Dr. Kurtz is a comparatist whose expertise is in the field of postcolonial literatures, with an emphasis on the literatures of East Africa. He has particular interest in the region’s early nationalist period and in the connection of its liberation movements with literature and culture. He has worked at four universities, offering courses ranging from first-year writing to graduate seminars, and he is the recipient of multiple teaching awards.
Dr. Kurtz’s publications address topics ranging from Joseph Conrad’s influence on the Singaporean novelist Lloyd Fernando, to the nature of the Kenyan urban space and its literary representation, to contemporary trauma theory. His work appears in journals such as Conradiana, the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Research in African Literatures, The Nairobi Journal of Literature, ARIEL, the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, and the Journal of African Cultural Studies.
His first book, Urban Obsessions, Urban Fears: The Postcolonial Kenyan Novel (James Currey/Africa World Press, 1998), is a study of the Kenyan novel. His second, Nyarloka’s Gift: The Writing of Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (Mvule Africa Publishers, 2005), examines one of Kenya’s leading writers. Trauma and Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2018) addresses literary trauma theory, and Writing Wrongs: Trauma and Transformation in African Literature (Routledge, 2021), explores the relevance of trauma theory in the African context.
Dr. Kurtz has twice received Fulbright fellowships (once to Kenya, and once to Ethiopia), and has twice been awarded major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Dr. Kurtz is presently head of the Drexel’s Department of English and Philosophy. Previously, at SUNY Brockport, he chaired three different academic departments: English, Anthropology, and African and African American Studies.