Cherene Sherrard was born in Los Angeles. She is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies and feminist theory. She earned her B.A. in English and American Studies at U.C.L.A. and her doctorate in English at Cornell University. Her research is primarily focused on black female representation in mid-nineteenth to early twentieth American literature and visual culture. She is the author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (Rutgers UP, 2007), an interdisciplinary study of representations of the “New Negro” woman as a mixed-race icon in the literary and visual culture of the Harlem Renaissance and Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color, (Rutgers UP, 2012) a 2013 BCALA honor book. She is the editor of A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley 2015), which brings together 28 established and emerging scholars to produce the most comprehensive anthology in Harlem Renaissance Studies.
Sherrard’s debut poetry collection Vixen was published by Autumn House Press in September 2017. Her second poetry collection Grimoire was published September 2020. A graduate of the Cave Canem Summer Workshops, her fiction and poetry have been published in numerous anthologies, including The Ringing Ear, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, and Gathering Ground, and literary journals such as Los Angeles Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, New York Times Magazine, Plume, The Journal, and Gulf Coast. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Water~Stone Review and Terrain.org.
She is the recipient of many fellowships and awards including a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant in poetry and a National Endowment for the Humanities Award and 2019 Outstanding Women of Color Award. Her essay “A Plea for Color: Nella Larsen’s Mulatta Iconography” (2004) was awarded the Foerster prize for best essay published in American Literature. Her poetry chapbook, Mistress Reclining (2010) won the New Women’s Voices Award sponsored by Finishing Line Press and Judged by Carol Hamilton. She is also the recipient of fellowships to Sewanee Writers Conference and the and Ragdale Foundation.