Curriculum Vitae

Nicolas S. Witschi
Department of English
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331

work: 269-387-2604
fax: 269-387-2562

Academic Experience

  • August 2011 - present: Professor, Department of English, Western Michigan University
  • Jan. 2008 - June 2011: Associate Chair, Department of English, WMU.
  • August 2005 - July 2011: Associate Professor, Dept. of English, WMU.
  • August 2000 - July 2005: Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, WMU.
  • Sept. 1999 - July 2000: Fulbright Lecturer / Visiting Professor in American Studies, The University of Regensburg, Germany.
  • 1998 - July 1999: Postdoctoral Instructor, Department of English, University of Oregon.
  • 1994 - 1998: Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of English, University of Oregon.
  • 1993 - 1994: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of English, University of Oregon.
  • 1992 - 1993: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of English, University of Colorado.


  • Education

  • Ph.D. in English, 1998, University of Oregon. Dissertation: "Landscape Matters: Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American Literature." Dir: Suzanne Clark.
  • M.A. in English, 1993, University of Colorado.
  • B.F.A. in Film & Television, 1988, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.


  • Publications

    Books & Monographs:


    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2010, ed. David J. Nordloh (Duke UP, forthcoming 2012).
    • "Searching the Horizon: The Real American West, 1830-1920" [brochure essay accompanying a 2011-12 Bank of America-sponsored traveling art exhibition].
    • "Imagining the West" and "Detective Fiction," A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West, ed. Nicolas S. Witschi (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011): 3-10, 380-94.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2009, ed. Gary Scharnhorst (Duke UP, 2011): 263-80.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2008, ed. David J. Nordloh (Duke UP, 2010): 257-74.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2007, ed. Gary Scharnhorst (Duke UP, 2009): 281-300.
    • "'With Powder Smoke and Profanity': Genre Conventions, Regional Identity, and the Palisade Gunfight Hoax," Regionalism and the Humanities, ed. Timothy R. Mahoney and Wendy Katz (U of Nebraska P, 2009): 127-44.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2006, ed. David J. Nordloh (Duke UP, 2008): 251-72.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2005, ed. Gary S. Scharnhorst (Duke UP, 2007): 263-88.
    • “Introduction: Popular Entertainment and American Theater Prior to 1900,” Comparative Drama 40.4 (Winter 2006-07): 405-10. N.B. written as guest editor of this special issue.
    • "Late-19th-Century Literature," American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, 2004, ed. David J. Nordloh (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006): 271-93.
    • "Resource Management," American History Through Literature, 1870-1920, eds. Tom Quirk and Gary Scharnhorst (New York: Scribners, 2006): 980-84.
    • "Daisy Miller and Reception: Lessons Learned Teaching Henry James in Europe," Approaches to Teaching James's "Daisy Miller" and "The Turn of the Screw", eds. Kimberly Reed and Peter Beidler (New York: MLA, 2005): 88-93.
    • "California: Mountains and Deserts," A Companion to the Regional Literatures of America, ed. Charles L. Crow (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003): 363-78.
    • "Genre Fictions and Material Reconstructions of the Gold Rush: Writing the 'Real' California at the End of the Nineteenth Century," Sites of Memory in American Culture, ed. Udo J. Hebel (Heidelberg, Germany: C. Winter Universitätsverlag, 2003): 75-95.
    • "John of the Mines: Muir's Picturesque Re-write of the Gold Rush," Western American Literature 34.3 (Fall 1999): 316-43.
    • "'The Culture of the Northwest': A Newly Discovered Essay by Mary Austin," The North Dakota Quarterly 65.4 (Fall 1998): 80-90.
    • "Sinclair Lewis, the Voice of Satire, and Mary Austin's Revolt from the Village," American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 30.1 (Fall 1997): 75-90.

    Reference Entries:

    • "Bret Harte," Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, ed. Jay Parini (forthcoming 2003).
    • La Maravilla, by Alfredo Véa, Jr. "Reading Suggestions for 'Not-to-Be-Missed Contemporary Fiction of the American West, 1990-2000.'" Western American Literature 35.4 (Winter 2001): 448.
    • "David Graham Phillips," American National Biography, eds. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, 24 vols. (New York: Oxford UP, 1999) 17: 443-45.


    • The Sagebrush Anthology: Literature from the Silver Age of the Old West, ed. By Lawrence I Berkove, American Literary Realism, 1870-1930 (forthcoming).
    • Mark Twain and the American West, by Joseph L. Coulombe, Mark Twain Forum (24 March 2004) <>.
    • Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California, by David Wyatt, Western American Literature (Summer 2003): 204-05.
    • Roman Holidays: American Writers and Artists in Nineteenth-Century Italy, edited by Robert K. Martin and Leland S. Person, The Henry James Review 24.2 (Spring 2003): 193-95.
    • Performing the American Frontier, 1870-1906, by Roger A. Hall, Comparative Drama 36.1,2 (Spring/Summer 2002): 216-19.
    • Vintage Snapshots: The Fabrication of a Nation in the W.P.A. American Guide Series, by Petra Schindler-Carter, Amerikastudien/American Studies: A Quarterly 46.3 (Fall 2001): 473-74.
    • "Reading Flannery O'Connor" [review essay], Mississippi Quarterly LIV.3 (Summer 2001): 399-403.
    • Bret Harte: Prince and Pauper, by Axel Nissen, American Studies 42.2 (Summer 2001): 158-59.
    • "Marking Twain, from Beginning to End" [review essay], Mississippi Quarterly LIII.2 (Spring 2000): 291-99.
    • The Natural Contract, by Michel Serres, ISLE 4.1 (Fall 1997): 137-38.
    • Charles & Kathleen Norris: The Courtship Year, ed. Richard Allan Davison, Western American Literature 31.2 (Summer 1996): 189-90.
    • The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, English Language Notes 31.3 (March 1994): 83-4.



    Western Michigan University:

    • Film Interpretation (ENGL 210); Literatures and Cultures of the United States (ENGL 222); Our Place in Nature (ENGL 311 -- Honors section); American Literature I, Beginnings to 1880s (ENGL 320); American Literature II, 1880s-present (ENGL 321); Native American Literature (ENGL 410); American Realism & Naturalism (ENGL 522); Women and the Early 20th-century West (ENGL 522); 1925: The Cultural Legacies of an Amerian Year (graduate seminar, ENGL 622); Thoreau's Walden (graduate seminar, ENGL 622); Introduction to Graduate Studies (ENGL 630).

    Previous offerings:

    • . . . at the University of Regensburg: The American Realist Novel (graduate seminar); The California Gold Rush (culture studies seminar); Literature and Popular Culture in the American 1920s; Visual and Literary Politics of the 1930s; American Documentary Filmmaking; Understanding Walden: Texts, Contexts, Reception, and Criticism (graduate seminar).
    • . . . at the University of Oregon: Supermarket Fiction: Taking Popular Literature Seriously (Western, Romance, Detective, Science Fiction); Survey of American Literature, 1865 to present; British and American Modernism; Introduction to Shakespeare; Introduction to Literature: Fiction; Reading, Writing, Using the World Wide Web; College Composition III (Writing and Research Methodologies); College Composition II (Advanced Writing); College Composition I (Beginning Writing)


    Honors and Awards

  • Dean’s Faculty and Staff Appreciation Award, Western Michigan University, 2006-07.
  • Huntington Library, Los Angeles Corral of Westerners Research Fellowship, 2006-07.
  • Houghton Library, Houghton Mifflin Fellowship in Publishing History, Harvard University, 2006-07.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Institute on "The Redemptive West," Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, July - August 2005.
  • WMU Arts & Sciences Teaching and Research Award (ASTRA): March '02, October '02, October '03.
  • WMU PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology) website development grant, April 2001.
  • Finalist, Don D. Walker Prize for Best Article, Western Literature Association, 2000.
  • Fulbright Grant, Junior Lecturer in American Studies, at the University of Regensburg, Germany, 1999-2000.
  • Huntington Library Frank Hideo Kono Fellowship, 1997-98.
  • Finalist, Outstanding Teacher of Composition Award, University of Oregon, 1997-98.


  • Invited Lectures

  • "A Novella Runs Through It: Norman Maclean and Western Environmentalism," [American Literature, 2001], Rolling On the River: Waterways to Diversity in America, 2001 Fulbright Summer Institute in American Studies, Western Michigan University, 26 July 2001.
  • "The 1894 San Francisco World's Fair: 'The Fake' and the Representation of California," American Studies Department, Universität Mainz, July 2000.
  • "'The Realism of the Representation': (Re)Constructing the California Gold Rush at the 1894 San Francisco Midwinter Exposition," Sites of Memory Conference, University of Regensburg, 13 May 2000.
  • "Early Environmentalism in the American Southwest: Mary Austin's The Land of Little Rain," Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum/James F. Byrnes Institut e.V., Stuttgart, 26 April 2000.
  • "Forgetting the Gold Rush: John Muir Re-Writes Nature in the Mountains of California," University of Regensburg, 15 Feb. 2000.
  • "Of Jumping Frogs and Motherless Children: Mark Twain and Humor from the Gold Rush West," Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum/James F. Byrnes Institut e.V., Stuttgart, 1 March 2000; Deutsch-Amerikanishes Institut, Tübingen, 27 April 2000.


  • Selected Conference Presentations

  • “‘Off the Reservation with Forty Kinds of War Paint On’: Dime Novel Journalism, the Outlaw Henry Starr, and Native American Autobiography,” Western Literature Association (WLA), Tacoma, WA, 19 Oct. 2007.
  • “Rhymes with ‘muck’: Deadwood, Language, and the Re-imagining of the Hardboiled Urban Western,” American Literature Association (ALA), Boston, 25 May 2007.< /li>
  • "'I do not like newspaper notoriety': Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, The James Gang, and the Op-Ed Autobiography," Western Literature Association (WLA), Boise, ID, 26 Oct. 2006.
  • "When You Call Me That, Write It Down: Deadwood, Deadwood, and the Wild West Autobiography," American Literature Association (ALA), San Francisco, 25 May 2006.
  • "The Genre With No Name: The Gunfighter Memoir and the Making of the Popular American West," WLA, Los Angeles, 20 Oct. 2005.
  • "What We Still Talk About When We Talk About Region," Western Literature Association (WLA), Big Sky/Bozeman MT, 30 Sept. 2004.
  • "Shonash to Clayton to Eastwood: Back to the Future III, Naming the Land, and the Revisionist Westerns of the 1990s," ALA, San Francisco CA, 27 May 2004.
  • "The Pleasures of Expectations Met: Popular Genre Forms and the Making of a Sense of Region," Regionalism and the Humanities, Lincoln NE, 21 Nov. 2003.
  • "'Clint Eastwood? What kind of a stupid name is that?': Back to the Future III, Naming the Land, and the Revisionist Westerns of the 1990s," WLA, Houston TX, 31 Oct. 2003.
  • "'Cool, Purple Distance': How the Visual Has Come to Dominate our Understanding of California's Mountains," Modern Language Association (MLA), New York, 30 Dec. 2002.
  • Plenary Forum (organizer and participant), Transnationalism and Regional Literary Studies, Western Literature Association (WLA), Tucson, AZ, 11 Oct. 2002.
  • "One Author, Two Gold Rushes: Satire, Sentimentalism, and Regional Variation in California Gold Rush Journalism," American Literature Association (ALA), Long Beach, CA, 1 June 2002.
  • "A Novella Runs Through It, or, The Troubling Use of Fiction in the Fight to Stop a Gold Mine," WLA, Omaha, NE, 19 Oct. 2001.
  • "What if San Francisco Had Moved to Indiana? Satire, Sincerity, and Regional Variation in Alonzo Delano's Writings about the California Gold Rush," Pacific Northwest American Studies Association (PNASA), Lincoln City, OR, 20 April 2001.
  • "Hardboiled Nature: California Detective Fiction and the Limits of Representation," WLA, Norman, OK, 26 October 2000.
  • Workshop on Ecocriticism: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Trees: Nature Writing, Historicism, and the American West," European Association of American Studies (EAAS), Graz, Austria, 16 April 2000.
  • "Staging the American: Henry James and the tableau vivant of Realism," ALA, Baltimore, MD, 29 May 1999.
  • "The Theatre of Realism in Early Henry James," PNASA, Lincoln City, OR, 9 April 1999.
  • "Bret Harte (& his cabin) at the 1894 World's Fair: Gold Mining as Spectacle in Fin de Siècle San Francisco," WLA, Banff, Alberta, 15 October 1998.
  • "'Why, have you got the Atlantic Monthly out here?': William Dean Howells and the American West," PNASA, Coeur d'Alene, ID, 11 April 1998.
  • "Silver Men, Golden Dreams, and Bloody Massacres: Material Value in Twain's Nevada Hoaxes," Modern Language Association (MLA), Toronto, ONT, December 1997.
  • "John Nelder Meets John Muir: The Case of the Naturalist and the Disappearing Forty-Niner," WLA, Albuquerque, NM, October 1997.
  • "Hitching Together a Literary History: John Muir's Re-Write of Bret Harte's Gold Country," ALA, Baltimore MD, May 1997.
  • "Water, Wheat, and the Western, or, History According to Frank Norris's The Octopus," PNASA, Portland OR, April 1997.
  • "Of Human Value: Mark Twain, Journalism, and Natural Resources on the Comstock Lode," WLA, Lincoln NE, October 1996.
  • Organizer, Chair, and Presenter, panel workshop on "Ecocriticism," PNASA, Bend OR, April 1996.
  • "'The moulding realities of earth': A Study of Mary Austin's Literary Landscapes," WLA, Vancouver BC, October 1995.
  • "'Vistas Dear to the American Heart': Landscapes of the Imagination in Willa Cather's The Professor's House," Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Biannual Conference (ASLE), Fort Collins CO, June 1995.
  • "The Devil on Foot: Walking Through the West of the WPA's American Guide Series," WLA, Salt Lake City UT, October 1994.
  • "Helen Thurso's 'image making mind': Consciousness and Gender in 'Thurso's Landing'," Robinson Jeffers Assoc. Annual Meeting, Carmel CA, October 1994.

    Othe Conference Activity:

    • Chair, panel on "Can the West Be Narrated Anew?," WLA, Houston TX, 1 Nov. 2003.
    • Chair, panel on "Inscribing oneself On the West," WLA, Tucson AZ, 12 Oct. 2002.
    • Session Organizer and Chair, "Virgins and Dynamos: Medieval Modernity in Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century U. S. Culture," 37th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo MI, 2 May 2002.
    • Chair, panel on " The Reconstruction Era: An Archive of the Dilemmas of Citizenship," PNASA, Lincoln City OR, April 2001.
    • Chair, panel on "Contemporary Western American Literature," WLA, Albuquerque NM, October 1997.


  • Local Presentations

    Western Michigan University:

    • "Realism, Literature, and the California Gold Rush," Keynote Address, Winter Speakers Series, 4 Feb. 2002.

    University of Oregon:
    Colloquium Lectures

    • "Watered-down Thoughts: Mary Austin's California Realism," Mesa Verde 1998 Winter Colloquium Series, University of Oregon, February 1998.
    • "What We Talk About When We Talk About Trees: Some Thoughts on a Literary History of Natural Resources," Mesa Verde 1996 Fall Colloquium Series ("Literature, Environment, and Culture"), University of Oregon, October 1996.

    Annual UO Fall Composition Conference:

    • 1997 "Integrating Harvest with The Shape of Reason."
    • 1996 "Pedagogies of Argumentation."
    • 1995 "Teaching Gage's The Shape of Reason" [session chair and panelist].
    • 1994 "Collaborative Teaching."

    Selected Academic Service

    Departmental and University Responsibilities (WMU):

    • WMU-AAUP Association Council Representative (Fall 2004 – present)
    • Chair, Dept. Chair Search Committee, English (Fall 2005 – Spring 2006)
    • Lee Honors College Advisory Committee (Fall 2004 – Spring 2006)
    • Lee Honors College Late-Admissions Committee (Fall 2003 – Spring 2006)
    • University Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals committee, WMU (Fall 2003 – Spring 2006)
    • Faculty Senate, WMU (Spring 2001 – Spring 2004).
    • Policy Committee, English Department, WMU (served as Chair, 2002-04).
    • Programs & Speakers Committee, English Department, WMU (ongoing)
    • Graduate Committee, English Department, WMU (Spring 2001 – Summer 2003)
    • Chair, IT Committee, English Department, WMU.
    • WMU Committee to establish an interdisciplinary film studies minor (2000-01).
    • English Department webmaster (de facto; Spring 2001 – Spring 2006)

    Professional Service:

    • Co-President, Western Literature Association, 2007-08.
    • Editorial Board, Western American Literature, Fall 2003 – present
    • Executive Council, Western Literature Association (10/2000 - 10/2003).
    • Editorial Board, The Platte Valley Review, Fall 2000 – 2005.
    • Peer Reviewer, University of Utah Press, Broadview Press, Houghton Mifflin Co., Routledge.
    • Judge, Don D. Walker Award for best article or essay, Western Literature Association, 2003.
    • Judge, Thomas J. Lyon Award for best book-length study of western literature and culture, Western Literature Association, 2002.
    • Executive Council, Western Literature Association (10/2000 - 10/2003).
    • Editorial reader for Western American Literature.
    • Editorial reader for The Michigan Academician.
    • Selection Committee in the Humanities, Fulbright Kommission, German Program Unit (Berlin & Bonn), October 1999 -- conducted dossier evaluations and interviews of potential German graduate student Fulbright grantees to the United States.
    • Transcriber, Henry D. Thoreau's Journal, for The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, March 1995 to Aug. 1999.
    • Co-editor, Harvest: A Collection of Student Essays from the University of Oregon’s Composition Program (2nd edition). 1997 -- a textbook designed for and implemented by the University of Oregon's College Composition curriculum.
    • Program Committee, International Conference on Native American Literature, UO, 1997.
    • Founding Member, Mesaverde Colloquium Series, UO, 1995 to 1999
    • Editor, Scriblerus II: A Newsletter of the Univ. of Oregon English Graduate Students, 1996 to 1998.


  • Modern Language Association
  • American Literature Section
  • Western Literature Association