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James Plath

R. Forrest Colwell Endowed Chair and Professor of English


Office Number:
CLA 143
James Plath

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1988
M.A.,  University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1982
B.A., California State University at Chico, 1980

Courses Frequently Taught:
Gateway 100: Sitcoms & Society
Film 110: Film Aesthetics
English 101: Introduction to  Creative Writing
English 110: The Short Story
English 170: Middle Age Crazy (Carver, Beattie & Updike)
English 170: New Views of the Old West
English 201: Writing Fiction
Journalism 211: Newswriting & Reporting
Journalism 212: Editorial Writing & Reviewing
English 301: Seminar in Creative Writing (fiction)
Journalism 315: Seminar in Public Relations
Film 320: Film Theory & Criticism
Journalism 325: Feature Writing & In-Depth Reporting
Journalism 335: Internship in Professional Writing
English 355: Native American Literature 
English 370: Hemingway & Fitzgerald
English 480: Senior Seminar (American Magical Realism)

Illinois Wesleyan University Award for Teaching Excellence (Pantagraph Award, 2004)
Illinois College Press Association Meritorious Service Award (1999)
Fulbright Scholar, University of the West Indies, Barbados (1995)
Graduate of the Last Decade Award, UWM Alumni Association (1992)
Editor’s Award, the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses  (1990)

Selected Publications:
— Critical Insights: Conspiracies. Amenia, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2020.
The 100 Greatest Literary Characters  (with Gail Sinclair and Kirk Curnutt). Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 
Everything Shapes Itself to the Sea (poetry chapbook). Georgetown, Ky.: Finishing Line Press, October 2017.
John Updike’s Pennsylvania Interviews. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh Univ. Press, 2016.
Critical Insights Film: Casablanca. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2016.
Critical Insights: Raymond Carver. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2013.
Historic Photos of Ernest Hemingway (USA Book News “Best Books 2009” Award in Biography, Historical Category). Nashville: Turner Publishing Co., 2009.
Remembering Ernest Hemingway (with Frank Simons). Key West, Fla.: Ketch and Yawl Press, 1998.
Conversations with John Updike. Jackson, Miss.: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Courbet, on the Rocks (poetry chapbook). Fox River Grove, Ill.: White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 1994.

Journals and Anthologies:

—"A Scientific Explanation: The Physics of Marriage and Divorce in Updike's 'Here Come the Maples,'" with Thushara Perera. The John Updike Review 8:2 (Spring 2021): 9-26. 
—"Pearls, Marlin, and Small Tragedies: Steinbeck's The Pearl and Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea." Critical Insights: John Steinbeck's The Pearl. Ed. Laura Nicosia and James Nicosia. Amenia, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2019. 45-58.
—“In the Manner of Michelangelo: John Updike’s The Poorhouse Fair.” The John Updike Review 6:2 (Fall 2018). 53-78.
—“Walt Disney (1901-1966): When You Wish Upon a Star.” Shapers of American Childhood: Essays on Visionaries from L. Frank Baum to Dr. Spock to J.K. Rowling. Ed. Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark West. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Books, 2018. 44-62.
—“Photos and Portraits.” Hemingway in Context. Ed. Suzanne del Gizzo and Debra Moddelmog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 65-75.
—“Plattdeutsch.” City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry. Ed. Ryan Van Cleave. Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press, 2012. 104-05.
—“Barking at Death: Hemingway, Africa, and the Stages of Dying.” Hemingway and Africa. Ed. Miriam B. Mandel. Melton, England: Camden House, 2011. 299-319.
—“My Lover the Car: Ann Beattie’s ‘A Vintage Thunderbird’ and Other Vehicles.’” Short Story Criticism. Vol. 130. Ed. Jelena Krstovic. Farmington, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2010. 11.
—“Jive-Ass Aficionado: Why Are We in Vietnam? and Hemingway’s Moral Code.” The Mailer Review 4:1 (Fall 2010): 194-207.
— “DVD Town presents an Exclusive Interview with Michael Moore.” DVD Town. Posted 9 March 2010.
—"In an Odd Light: Kipling's Maisie and Fitzgerald's Daisy." The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review 6 (2007-08). 95-104.
—"Updike, Hawthorne, and American Literary History." The Cambridge Companion to John Updike. Ed. Stacey Olster. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 122-33.
—"21 Tweaks to a Better Tale." The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing. Ed. Meg Leder and Jack Heffron. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 2002. 228-34.
—“What's in a Name, Old Sport?: Kipling's The Story of the Gadsbys as a Possible Source for Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby." Journal of Modern Literature 25: 2 (Winter 2001-02]. 131-40.
—"Poetic Leaps & Movements." With Zarina Mullan Plath. The Writer's Handbook 2001. Ed. Sylvia K. Burack. Waukesha, Wis.: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2001. 344-48.
—“Shadow Rider: The Hemingway Hero as Western Archetype.” Hemingway and the Natural World. Ed. Robert Fleming. Moscow: Univ. of Idaho Press, 1999. 69-86.
—"Verbal Vermeer: Updike's Middle-Class Portraiture." Rabbit Tales: Poetry and Politics in John Updike's "Rabbit" Novels. Ed. Lawrence R. Broer. Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1998. 207-230.
—"The Sun Also Rises as 'A Greater Gatsby': 'Isn't it pretty to think so?'" French Connections: Hemingway and Fitzgerald Abroad. Ed. Jackson Bryer and J. Gerald Kennedy. New York: St. Martin's, 1998. 257-75.

Faculty Status:
Tenured, at IWU since 1988; on sabbatical spring 2017, next sabbatical 2023-2024

Professional and Personal:
Since 1988 I have taught the journalism sequence, supervised writing internships, and served as faculty advisor to the campus newspaper. I write everything — poetry, fiction, journalism, reviews, literary criticism, and creative non-fiction — and I encourage my students to do the same. In previous lives I was a feature writer for a short-lived Milwaukee newspaper, director of the Hemingway Days Writers’ Workshop & Conference in Key West, editor-publisher of the award-winning arts journal Clockwatch Review, and a member of the literature panel of the Illinois Arts Council. Now I write movie reviews and I’m a member of the Online Film Critics Society. I also remain active in Hemingway and Updike scholarship, and was elected president of The John Updike Society, which organized in May 2009 at the American Literature Association conference in Boston.  Among my numerous interests are reading, writing, movies, classic TV shows, antiques, art, gardening, home improvement,  Ping-Pong, billiards, travel, cooking, wines, fishing, Chicago sports teams and spending time with family.