nineteenth-century American literature, U.S. Latinx literature, the transatlantic 19c, cultural history, feminist and gender studies, critical race studies, and intellectual history
Carrie Tirado Bramen is the author of American Niceness: A Cultural History (Harvard UP 2017), a study of the role niceness has played in configuring a democratic personality that is apparently free from Old World snobbery. Bramen explores the conflicting ways that niceness has figured in the nineteenth century from Native American hospitality, feminine niceness, and the rise of the nice Jesus to the significance of the slave’s smile in antebellum rhetoric. The book concludes with the emergence of the “democratic empire”—where the US occupation of the Philippines was claimed by some to be a kinder, gentler form of imperial dominance, epitomized in Civil-Governor William Howard Taft’s hearty laughter, firm handshake, and affable manner. This cultural history of the United States demonstrates the centrality of sociality for thinking about national and political cultures. Her essay, “Niceness in a Neoliberal Age,” appeared in Public Culture (May 2018).
Her first book, The Uses of Variety: Modern Americanism and the Quest for National Distinctiveness (Harvard UP 2000), was co-winner of the Thomas J. Wilson prize for best first book published by Harvard University Press. It explores how the language of ‘variety—a Victorian precursor to diversity—became synonymous with Americanism in the late nineteenth century from literary regionalism and biracial fictions to intra-urban walking tours and the emergence of the urban picturesque to religious pluralism and the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893. William James’s philosophy of pluralism frames this study of how to imagine “manyness-in-oneness,” where oneness offers little in the way of stability and security.
She is currently working on an essay about Harriet Beecher Stowe in Florida, and writing a book-length cultural history of astrology.
Bramen has written for the Washington Post, The Conversation, the Black Agenda Report, and the Political Theology Network.
The recipient of three teaching awards including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Bramen teaches courses in nineteenth-century American literature, American 1890s, US Latinx literature, travel writing and creative nonfiction.
Since 2017, she has been Director of the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender at the University at Buffalo (aka the UB Gender Institute). From 2007-2013, she served as Executive Director of the UB Humanities Institute. She was elected Program Chair of C19: Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (2016-2018).
August 4, 2021: GI Director Carrie Tirado Bramen reacting to NY Attorney General’s Report on Governor Cuomo. Radio Station WBFO
August 11, 2021: UB Gender Institute leader: Cuomo resignation a milestone in views on sexual harassment
Buffalo News Article
Syndicate Network: Book Forum on Kathryn Lofton’s Consuming Religion (Chicago UP 2017). Response from Carrie Tirado Bramen, “Varieties of Religious Experience from Justin Bieber to Beyoncé.”
“Happy Birthday, Mr. Clemens: How Buffalo defined Mark Twain’s Legacy.” Interview with Carrie Tirado Bramen on WBFO.
Black Agenda Report Book Forum: Suzy Hansen's "Notes on a Foreign Country" and Carrie Bramen's "American Niceness"
Carrie Tirado Bramen, “In the DACA debate, which version of America—nice or nasty—will prevail?” The Conversation (February 13, 2018)
Carrie Tirado Bramen, “Americans have always been nice. But is it just a sham?” Washington Post (June 30, 2017)
Thinking Aloud Podcast: Marcus Smith speaks with Carrie Tirado Bramen, a professor of English who has written a cultural history of American niceness. Join them as they discuss the often contradictory nature of national stereotypes.—Original airdate: 10/9/2017 http://www.classical89.org/thinkingaloud/archive/episode/?id=10/9/2017
Bramen named director of UB Gender Institute