Thomas Ruys Smith

Thomas Ruys Smith


  • 1.40 Arts

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Thomas Ruys Smith is Professor of American Literature and Culture.

His primary field of research and teaching expertise is nineteenth century literature and culture, both American and Transatlantic. Frequently, his research is focused around the life and culture of the Mississippi River. His first book, River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain (Louisiana State University Press, 2007) was an interdisciplinary examination of the different roles played by the Mississippi in antebellum American culture. His second book, Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century (Continuum, 2011), was an exploration of the life and culture of one of America's most fascinating cities during a crucible period in its history. His latest monograph, Deep Water: The Mississippi River in the Age of Mark Twain (LSUP: 2019), is the first book to provide a comprehensive narrative account of Twain's intimate and long-lasting creative engagement with the Mississippi. Deep Water also details the thriving cultural life of the river in this period, from roustabouts to canoeists, from books for boys to blues songs, and highlights a diverse collection of voices each telling their own story of the Mississippi and its place in American life.

He is also the editor of Blacklegs, Card Sharps and Confidence Men: Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories (Louisiana State University Press, 2010); with Prof. Sarah Churchwell, Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers, from Charlotte Temple to The Kite Runner (Continuum, 2012); and with Ross Hair, Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music: America Changed Through Music (Ashgate / Routledge, 2016).  

He is the co-editor, with Rachael McLennan, of the journal Comparative American Studies

At present, he is working on a special issue of Comparative American Studies focussed on rivers, an anthology of nineteenth century American Christmas stories for Louisiana State University Press, and a new book project about Walter Scott and the development of American Literature.

He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Twitter: @thomasruyssmith


American literature, history and culture (with an emphasis on the 19th century); Mississippi River, history and culture; New Orleans, past and present; American music.