Kameelah L. Martin was raised in a military family and has lived all over the United States including Omaha, Nebraska; Little Rock, Arkansas; North Hollywood, California; Atlanta, Georgia; as well as Okinawa, Japan. She completed high school in Albany, Georgia then entered Georgia Southern University as a first generation college student. Graduating (cum laude) with a BA in English in December (2000); her fear of the corporate workforce compelled her to pursue a career in higher education following her undergrad years.
She went on to earn a Master’s degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of California Los Angeles in 2003. Moving directly into a doctoral program, Dr. Martin earned her final degree in English from Florida State University in 2006. Her area of focus is twentieth century African American literature with an emphasis in folklore and, more specifically, the African American conjuring tradition. Her dissertation earned the FSU Department of English J. Russell Reaver Award for Outstanding Dissertation in American Literature or Folklore
Dr. Martin’s research explores the lore cycle of the conjure woman, or black priestess, as an archetype in literature and visual texts. In 2013, Palgrave McMillan published her first monograph Conjuring Moments in African American Literature: Women, Spirit Work, & Other Such Hoodoo which engages how African American authors have shifted, recycled, and reinvented the conjure woman figure primarily in twentieth century fiction. Dr. Martin is also the author of Envisioning Black Feminist Voodoo Aesthetics: African Spirituality in American Cinema (Lexington 2016) which explores the treatment of the priestess figure in American cinema.
Other areas of interest include the evolution of 20th century black folk heroes, the fiction of Tina McElroy Ansa, Gullah Geechee heritage and culture, African American genealogical research and the writing of family histories. Dr. Martin is a member of the College Language Association, Modern Language Association, and the African American Historical and Genealogical Society.
She has served as Assistant Editor of the College Language Association Journal and has published in Studies in the Literary Imagination, Black Women, Gender, & Families, as well as the African American National Biography. She has edited special issues of Genealogy, South Atlantic Review, a forthcoming special issue of Hypatia on Conjure Feminism. She is co-editor, with Kinitra D. Brooks of The Lemonade Reader and working on an edited collection for the University Press of Mississippi, Conversations with Filmmakers: Julie Dash. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the mother of a precocious son, Isaiah, and recently, a daughter–named for the youngest sister in Ntozake Shange’s Sassafras, Cypress, & Indigo. She has held faculty positions at Georgia State University, the University of Houston, and Savannah State University. She served as Director and Professor of African American Studies at the College of Charleston, before being appointed Dean of the Graduate School in 2021.