Faculty Biography

James Elliott

James P. Elliott, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita of English and Senior Research Scholar

Department of English
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

phone: 508-793-7152
email: jelliott@clarku.edu

Curriculum Vitae



B.A. Stanford University, 1966
Ph.D. Indiana University, 1971

Brief Biography

Trained as a textual editor in the field of American literature, Professor Elliott has been associated with the Edition of the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper for more than 30 years. Besides editing The Prairie and co-editing The Spy, he has contributed much collaborative writing and editing to the project. His scholarship has resulted in the development of reliable texts of Cooper’s works, and the historical/cultural/bibliographical research involved provides contexts for examining 19th-century American literature. He has been moving toward a more cultural basis in his teaching and writing, looking at how contemporary theoretical concerns interact with issues of race, class, gender and historicism in both 19th- and 20th-century arenas. Most recently, he has been looking at blogs to theorize the uses of narrative in that popular forum.

Current Research and Teaching

In over thirty years I have spent in the Clark English Department, I don't know who's changed more: the students or myself. Trained at Indiana University in textual criticism, I spent over twenty years as Chief Textual Editor of the Edition of the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper, collaborating in the production of 18 reliably edited volumes of Cooper's work, including the Leatherstocking Tales. As that project wound down, I began to re-examine my own scholarly and theoretical outlook, noticing that, though I was educated in the decade of the 1960s, "a period of cultural revolution," my academic training and work was thoroughly grounded in conventional New Critical principles of textual meaning. In the last ten years, then, I have been shifting my scholarly interest towards a more cultural focus, examining effects of identity politics on late nineteenth-century canonized and non-canonized works. I have shifted from an emphasis on authorial intention to New Historically inflected Cultural Criticism which explores the historical moments of the publication and subsequent receptions of these works, but returns to authorial intention by offering constructions of their authors that can engage us today.

My seminars include Visions of Representation, which looks at canonized and non-canonized post-Civil War American authors with an eye toward issues of race, class and gender; Contemporary Literary Theory, which tries to give an overview of the various philosophical, social, linguistic and literary theories of interpretation, particularly identity formation; and Studies in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, which most recently has taken a New Historical approach towards such works as Huckleberry Finn, The Country of the Pointed Firs, The Turn of the Screw, and The Awakening. I also pinch-hit in Major American Writers and offer a lower-division "hinge course" in the Short Story, as well as yearly editions of "Introduction to Literature and Composition." I am also initiating a first-year seminar on "The Literature of Baseball."

Selected Publications

My recent writing includes essays on Huck Finn, The Country of the Pointed Firs, and E.D.E.N. Southworth's The Hidden Hand, aiming at a book of interconnected essays that bring a cultural perspective to the various publications and continuing receptions of nineteenth-century American works. To summarize other projects: I am also editing a book of short community baseball stories, the proposal for which is circulating among New York publishers; a miscellany of poems, essays and stories submitted to a publisher in Minnesota; a projected series of "memory moments' based on personal experience, the first of which, "Aunt Ruth," appears in a volume of essays and a novel, KnitLit.

"Aunt Ruth," in Knitlit. New
York: Crown Publishing Group, 2002.

KnitLit Too
"A Good Fit," in Knitlit Too:
Stories from Sheep to Shawl
...and more Writing about
. New York: Three Rivers
Press, 2004.