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Martha Nell Smith

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Professor, English

(301) 405-8878

3238 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise

Film Studies and Cultural Studies
LGBTQ Studies
Literary Theory
Postmodern and Contemporary
Textual and Digital Studies
Transatlantic Studies
Women's Literature and Feminist Theory

Martha Nell Smith is Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, Professor of English, and Founding Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH at the University of Maryland.

The feature film Wild Nights With Emily has been made based largely on her work. Her numerous print publications include seven singly and coauthored or coedited books—Emily Dickinson, A User’s Guide (2019); Everywoman Her Own Theology: Essays on the Poetry of Alicia Suskin Ostriker (2018); I Dwell in Possibility: Collaborative Emily Dickinson Translation Project, edited with Professor Baihua Wang, Fudan University (2017); Companion to Emily Dickinson (Jan 2008); Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Dickinson (1998; Choice); Comic Power in Emily Dickinson (1993; Choice); Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson (1992; Hans Rosenhaupt First Book Award Honorable Mention, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation)—and scores of articles and essays in journals and collections such as American Literature, Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture, Textual Cultures, ESQ, Studies in the Literary Imagination, Journal of Victorian Culture, South Atlantic Quarterly, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Profils Americains, San Jose Studies, The Emily Dickinson Journal, ESQ, Journal of Victorian Culture, and A Companion to Digital Humanities. Most recently, working with Professor Baihua Wang of Fudan University (Shanghai), Smith has edited sections on Dickinson for three different international journals—Comparative Literature, World Literature, Cowrie: A Journal of Comparative Literature and Culture, and the International Journal of Poetry and Poetics. At present she is completing The Muse of Emily Dickinson: Susan Huntington Dickinson, and Life Before Last: Martha Dickinson Bianchi's Memoir (ed. with Jane Wald, Executive Director of the Emily Dickinson Museum). 

Smith is also Coordinator and Executive Editor of the Dickinson Electronic Archives projects at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia ( Smith co-edited Emily Dickinson’s Correspondence: A Born-Digital Textual Inquiry (2008; published by Rotunda New Digital Scholarship, University of Virginia Press, and worked in the early stages on the Mellon-sponsored data mining and visualization initiative, NORA (2003-2007), which grew into MONK (Metadata Offer New Knowledge; Smith also serves on the Advisory Board of Harvard University Press’s Emily Dickinson Archive ( The recipient of numerous awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Mellon Foundation, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) for her work on Dickinson, American literary history, and in new media, Smith is a founding board member of the Emily Dickinson International Society (EDIS), for which she has served as President since August 2013. On the editorial board and steering committee of NINES (Networked Interface for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship;, she serves in an advisory capacity for C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, and is on numerous advisory boards of digital literary projects such as The Poetess Archive and the Melville Electronic Library (MEL).  A leader in innovations in academic publishing, Smith served on the Executive Council of the Association for Computers in the Humanities (2001-2004), co-chaired the Modern Language Association (MLA)’s Committee on Scholarly Editions (CSE, 2004-2008), and chaired the University of Maryland’s Library Council (2008-2011). Through January 2018, Smith served upon and then chaired the MLA Forum Executive Committee on Sexuality Studies (formerly Gay Studies in Language and Literature).

For outstanding scholarly achievement and innovative leadership in which diversity inheres in any definition of excellence, Livingston College at Rutgers University awarded Smith its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, the highest honor that the college bestows upon its former students.  In 2010, Smith was named a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, and in 2011 she was appointed ADVANCE Professor in the College of Arts and Humanities as part of a NSF-funded project to cultivate inclusive excellence, and in 2012 was appointed an ADVANCE Fellow.  In May 2011, Smith was voted Chair-Elect of the University of Maryland Senate, and became Chair for the 2012-2013 term.