Dr BellBernard W. Bell is an award-winning emeritus research professor of American and African American literature, language, and culture in the Department of English, The Pennsylvania State University. A student, research assistant, colleague, and friend of the late Professor Sterling A. Brown, the Dean of African American Letters during his lifetime, Professor Bell received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Howard University and his Ph.D. in English with Phi Kappa Phi honors from the University of Massachusetts. He was a co-founder and Acting Head of the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1969-70, as well as the first Chairman of the Five College African American Studies Executive Committee (a consortium of Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire Colleges and the University of Massachusetts).

He is the author, editor, or co-editor of nine (9) books as well as the author of  more than seventy  (70) articles and reviews on Anglo-American and African American literature and culture.  He is the author of Bearing Witness to African American Literature: Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency (2012), a provocative,  “bracingly indispensable” collection of his selected lectures and essays from 1968 to 2008, and The Contemporary African American Novel: Its Folk Roots and Modern Literary Branches (2005), which has received four awards: an American Book Award (2005), the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award (2006), a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year (2006), and an American Library Association Selected Book, One of the Best of the Best from the University Presses (2006).  He is also the author of two other seminal studies: The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition (1987), the critically acclaimed, prize-winning theoretical and interpretive history of the African American novel that is generally recommended by specialists as the standard scholarly study in its field; and The Folk Roots of Contemporary Afro-American Poetry (1974). In addition, Bell is the editor of Clarence Major and His Art: Portraits of an African American Postmodernist (2001) and Modern and Contemporary Afro-American Poetry (1972).  He has also co-edited Contemporary Literature of the African Diaspora(1997), Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition (1997), and W. E. B. Du Bois on Race and Culture (1996).

His more than seventy articles and reviews on Anglo-American and African American literature and culture appear in such journals, periodicals, and media as AfropaediaThe Massachusetts ReviewMichigan Quarterly ReviewMark Twain Journal,College Language Association JournalPhylonAfrican American Review (formerly Black American Literature Forum), Black WorldAmerican DialogThe World and IComparative Literature StudiesCommonwealth: Images of Africa in the New World,American Book ReviewChicago Tribune Books, and Beijing Youth Daily. He also serves on the Board of Advisory Editors of “Writing Lives: The Craft and Politics of Biography,” Taller de Estudios NorteamericanoResources for American Literary Study,Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, and African American Review.

His many awards include five Senior Fulbright Awards (2006, 2004, 2003, 1996, 1982-83), College Language Association Creative Scholarship Book Award (2006), American Library Association Best of the Best at University Presses (2006), Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year (2006, 1989), American Book Award (2005), Howard B. Palmer Faculty Mentoring Award (2002), Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Award (2001), International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent (2000), ), the Du Bois/Garvey Pan African Unity Award (1999), Penn State University Distinction in the Humanities Award (1999), Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Certificate of Appreciation (1995), National Council of Teachers of English Certificate of Achievement (1995), Outstanding Educator Award (1990), College Language Association Creative Scholarship Book Award (1989), National Endowment of the Humanities Young Humanist Grant (1972-1973), and National Defense Education Act Fellowship (1968 and 1969).

As an international scholar and recipient of five Fulbright-Hays Lectureship and Senior Specialist Awards, he has taught or lectured at such teacher-training schools, international conferences, and prestigious universities as the following: in Germany in 1974-1975 at the Padagogische Hochschule, as well as at the Universities of Freiburg and Heidelberg; in France in 1975 and 1980 at the Sorbonne Nouvelle; in Nigeria in 1976 at the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture; in Portugal in 1982-1983 at the Universities of Coimbra, Oporto, and Lisbon; in Spain in 1996, 1999, and 2003 at the Universities of Salamanca, Valladolid, Alcala de Henares, and Bilboa; and in The People’s Republic of China in 2004 and 2006 at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Peking University, Southwest University of Science and Technology, and Sichuan Normal University; and in 2010 at the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil. He has lectured nationally at Universities ranging from Harvard to Morgan State and from the University of Chicago to the University of Connecticut.