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William Decker

Regents Professor

Address: 211A Morrill Hall
Phone: 405-744-8949
Message: 405-744-9474 


BA, Denison University


Areas of Interest & Expertise
  • American literature colonial to contemporary

  • Ethnicities and color lines

  • Critical Race Theory

  • Literature of travel and migration

  • Autobiography, memory, epistolarity

Recent Courses Taught
  • ENGL 6220, Slave Narrative Tradition: Past, Present, Future 

  • ENGL 5660, Whitman and Dickinson

  • ENGL 5480, American Expatriates: Henry James to James Baldwin

  • ENGL 4520, Remembering the Sixties

  • ENGL 4300, Exotic Destinations

  • ENGL 3200 (Cambridge, UK), Traveling and Telling: Mobility and the Art of Narrative

Selected Publications


Edited Volumes:

  • Daisy Miller (Introductions, annotations, bibliography). Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 2013.

  • Henry Adams and the Need to Know, co-edited with Earl N. Harbert. Massachusetts Historical Society and University of Virginia Press, 2005.

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • "Dynasty, Declension, and the Endurance of the House of Adams." Reviews in American History 49:2 (June 2021). 

  • "Autobiography, Education: Henry Adams and the Definition of a Genre." a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 33.1 (Winter 2018). 

  • "Longing in Long-Distance Letters: Nineteenth Century and Now," in Celeste-Marie Bernier, Judie Newman, Matthew Pethers ed., The Edinburgh Companion to Nineteenth Century American Letters and Letter-Writing. Edinburgh University Press, 2016.  

  • "'Who Aint a Slave?' Moby-Dick and the Slave Narrative Tradition." Literature in the Early American Republic, 2009.

  • "Americans in Europe: Henry James to the Present," in Alfred Bendixen, ed. The Cambridge Companion to American Travel Writing Cambridge University Press, 2008.

  • “'Surely Cora Was Not Forgotten’: Remembering Africa in the Leatherstocking Tales,” in Jeffrey Walker, ed., Reading Cooper, Teaching Cooper AMS Press, 2007.

Recent Talks and Conference Presentations
  • “Henry Adams: The Many Faces of the Many and the One.” Colloquium: Henry Adams and Les Mémoires de Ariitaimai. Université de la Polynésie Française, February 27-March 1, 2023, Papeete, Tahiti.  

  • “Freeway Dystopia: On the Road with Lauren Oya Olamina.” Université Catholique de Louvain Virtual Talk, April 21, 2022.

  • “’Twas Not Long Since I left My Native Shore”: Phillis Wheatley’s Celestial Cartography.” Massachusetts Historical Society Virtual Talk, February 17, 2022. 

  • "Cartographies of Fugitivity, Heterotopias of Revolt: Martin Delany to Alexandra Bell." American Studies Association Meeting, San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 12, 2021.

  • "Henry Adams: Knowledge and Neglect." Society for US Intellectual History, Chicago, Illinois, November 8, 2018. 

  • "Fugitive Geographies: The Slave Narrative and the Myth of American Space." Universität Erfurt, June 7, 2017. 

  • "Autobiography, Education: Henry Adams and the Definition of a Genre." Modern Language Association Convention, Austin, Texas, January 9, 2016.

  • "Geography, Empathy: Octavia Butler and the Perils of Sharing." American Studies Association Meeting, Toronoto, Ontario, October 8, 2015. 

Awards and Recognition
  • OSU Regents Distinguished Research Award 2016

  • DAAD Visiting Professor, Universität Paderborn, Germany, May-July, 2012

  • Fulbright Lecturer, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2008-2009

  • Fellow, Massachusetts Historical Society 2005

  • OSU Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty Research Award 1999

  • Modern Language Association Prize for Independent Scholars 1990 

Current Research

Book in progress: Writing Distance: Genres of Travel and Separation.   

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