Campus Box 1077
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
William Acree received his BA from Berry College and his PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research in the fields of Latin American literary and culture studies has a strong historical focus centering on the late colonial period and the nineteenth century. A good example of this approach can be found in his first book, Everyday Reading: Print Culture and Collective Identity in the Río de la Plata (1780-1910) (Vanderbilt University Press, 2011, recipient of the Southern Cone Studies Section 2013 Humanities Book Award of the Latin American Studies Association). His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a J. William Fulbright Scholar award, a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, and grants from the Mellon and Tinker Foundations.
Acree’s interest in the quotidian and the lasting impact of what are often ephemeral cultural products, inform his current research for a book on the Creole circus in parts of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Just what was this “Creole” circus? Traveling performers put on short plays at circus shows (usually consisting of acrobatic tricks and music) in the countryside, small towns, and later port capitals. Almost as soon as they began, this popular theater with native-son characters became the main attraction of the circus, and one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the late 1800s.
For more on the Creole circus and Creole dramas, check out the Hold That Thought episode on the Good Gaucho Gone Bad.
Primary research areas:
- popular and material culture
- cultural flows across the Americas
- Afro-Latin American studies
- nation, nationalism, identity, and cultural production
- performance history
- the cultural history of print
Collaborative work has resulted in the edition of the first English translation of Eduardo Gutiérrez’s page-turner The Gaucho Juan Moreira: True Crime in Nineteenth-Century Argentina, translated by John Chasteen (Hackett, 2014); and the co-edited volumes Empire’s End: Transnational Connections in the Hispanic World, with Akiko Tsuchiya (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016); Jacinto Ventura de Molina: los caminos de la escritura negra en el Río de la Plata, with Alex Borucki (2nd rev. ed. Iberoamericana / Vervuert, 2010); and Building Nineteenth-Century Latin America: Re-rooted Cultures, Identities, and Nations, with Juan Carlos González Espitia (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009).
Representative journal articles include: “The Creole Circus and Popular Entertainment in 19th-Century Argentina and Uruguay,” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History; “Hemispheric Travelers on the Rioplatense Stage” (Latin American Theatre Review); “Divisas and Deberes: Women and the Symbolic Economy of War Rhetoric in the Río de la Plata, 1810-1910” (Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies); “Jacinto Ventura de Molina: A Black Letrado in a White World of Letters, 1766-1841” (Latin American Research Review); “Luis Pérez, A Man of His Word in 1830s Buenos Aires and the Case for Popular Literature” (Bulletin of Spanish Studies); and “‘El primer negro de el mundo en la carrera de las letras’: Raza, revolución y el vocero de la ‘república nigro-literaria’ en el Río de la Plata” (Afro-Hispanic Review).
At Washington University in St. Louis his classes include surveys of Spanish American literature and culture, seminars on Latin America and popular culture, “The Argentine Experience” freshman FOCUS course, and a graduate research writing and methodology practicum. He is particularly interested in the writing process and working with students to cultivate strong reading and writing skills. Prior to joining WU Acree taught Latin American literature at San Diego State University and was the coordinator of the Languages Across the Curriculum program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.