Biography and C.V.

Born and raised in Chicago, I attended public schools, and did my undergraduate work at the University of Chicago, taking a B.A. in English in 1959. I attended graduate school at Stanford, taking a Ph.D in English and American literature in 1963. After teaching at the University of New Mexico, I moved in 1966 to Northwestern University, where I chaired the English Department for six years, was named to the distinguished John C. Shaffer chair, and later served as Director of the Northwestern University Press. In 1991 I moved to the University of Chicago as the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English and Education, succeeding Wayne C. Booth as the holder of that chair. In January 2000, I moved to the University of Illinois at Chicago as Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a joint appointment in the English department and the College of Education, a position I served for three years, with responsibilities including curricular development and high school teacher education.

A Guggenheim Fellowship led to my 1987 book, Professing Literature: An Institutional History (U Chicago P), now a standard work on the history of academic literary study in America. In 1994-95 I was a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. My other books include Poetic Statement and Critical Dogma (Northwestern UP 1970), reprinted in 1980 by U Chicago P) and Literature Against Itself (U Chicago P 1979), reprinted in 1995 by Ivan Dee Inc. I am editor of Jacques Derrida’s Limited Inc (Northwestern UP, 1989), which contains an interview by me with Derrida that clarifies his major ideas.

In November 1992, W. W. Norton published Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. In this book and other writings, I urge the productive use of controversy in teaching, in order to give focus to the curriculum and make intellectual work more coherent and accessible to students. A Reader’s Subscription Book Club selection, Beyond the Culture Wars won a 1992 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and the 1992-93 Frederic W. Ness Award of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

In 1993, Garland Press published Teaching the Conflicts: Gerald Graff, Curricular Reform, and the Culture Wars, a collection of essays on my educational ideas edited by William E. Cain of Wellesley College. In the same year, Bedford Books of St. Martin’s published a textbook applying my ideas, Falling into Theory, edited by David Richter, with a preface by me. A 1995 textbook I co-edited with James Phelan, a “Case Study in Critical Controversy” edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, presents students with critical debates about the novel, including recent ones over charges of racism and the removal of the book from courses by some school boards. Phelan and I have also co-edited a second textbook in this “Critical Controversies” series, an edition of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest.

In 1991 with Gregory Jay, I founded Teachers for a Democratic Culture, an organization aimed at combatting conservative misrepresentations (as we saw them) of recent changes in the curriculum and the culture. I have lectured or consulted on curricular issues at over two hundred colleges and universities. In the 1980s I served on the Advisory Board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and contributed to an AACU report, The Challenge of Connected Learning.

In 1996 I became Director and principal designer of the interdisciplinary Masters of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Through my work in this program, which attracted high school teachers, I became active in secondary school education, developing a project in 1997 and 1998 in which a unit on critical controversies over Shakespeare in my college course at the University of Chicago was electronically connected and synchronized with courses at two Chicago area high schools. A published account of this project makes a case for broadening the use of such high- school/college collaboration in order to close the gap between academic and student discourse.

My “teach the conflicts” theory and practice has been the theme of several academic conferences, including one at Bard College in October 1997 and March 1998 and at UCLA in April 1998. In the summer of 1999, I served as Harry Jack Gray professor at the University of Hartford, doing a workshop for high school and college teachers. A session on my work, “Conflicts, Culture Wars, Curriculum: A Roundtable on Gerald Graff,” was held at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in December, 2001, with the papers to be published in 2003 in Pedagogy.

Since the early 80s I have lectured at over 200 universities across the United States.

In 1998-99, I received a grant from the Spencer Foundation to support the writing of a book, Clueless in Academe, on the problem of academic-intellectual discourse and how it can be addressed in classrooms and academic writing. This book, which was published in April 2003 by Yale University Press, will be the subject of a session at the December 2004 Modern Language Association of America convention in Philadelphia. The book argues that educational institutions can do far more than they have to close the gap between academic intellectual culture and that of students and other citizens. If there is a unifying thread that runs through my career and my writing, this is it.

 

C.V.

Recent Honors

2008
Served as President of the Modern Language Association.

 

2004
Three sessions on “Cluelessness,” inspired by Clueless in Academe, to be sponsored by the MLA
Division on the Teaching of Literature at the annual convention in Philadelphia in December.
One of these panels will be on the book, with Graff as a respondent.

 

2003
Selected to contribute the essay on the English doctorate– “The Ph.D. in English: Towards a New Consensus”–as part of the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate, by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. read essay

 

2003
Symposium, “Teaching the Conflicts at Twenty Years” (Steve Benton, Jane Tompkins, Jeffrey Wallen, Robin Valenza, David R. Shumway, Craig Stroupe, with a response by Graff), Pedagogy 3, no. 2 (Spring, 2003), pp. 245-73.

 

2001
Conference session on my work: “Conflicts, Culture Wars, Curriculum: A Roundtable on Gerald Graff,” Modern Language Association annual meeting, New Orleans, December, 2001.

 

2001
Essay “Taking Cover in Coverage” included in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Vincent Leitch, et. al., eds. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), pp. 2056-2066.

 

Education
1959    A.B. University of Chicago, (English)
1963    Ph.D., Stanford University, (English and American Literature)

 

Professional Experience
1963-66    University of New Mexico, Assistant Professor

 

1966-91    Northwestern University
Associate Professor, 1970
Professor, 1979-1991
John C. Shaffer Professor of English and Humanities, 1980-91

1974-75    Visiting Professor, University of California at Irvine

1980-81    Visiting Professor, University of California at Berkeley

1986         Visiting Professor, Ohio State University

1988         Hurst Visiting Professor, Washington University

1991-00    George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English and Education, University of Chicago

2000–    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
Associate Dean of Curriculum and Instruction 2000–03
Professor of English and Education
Administrative Experience

1977-83    Chairman of English Department, Northwestern University

1985-87     Director, Northwestern University Press

1982-85    Co- Director, Northwestern University Press

1996-99    Director, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, University of Chicago

2000-02   Associate Dean of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UIC

Service as Program Reviewer

University of Pittsburgh, English Department

University of Massachusetts at Amherst English Department

Carnegie Mellon English Department

Marquette University English Department

Queens College, N. Y. World Studies Program

University of Arizona English Department

Valparaiso University English Department (MLA/FIPSE Project)

Colgate University (twice)

Arizona State University

Arizona University

Columbia University

 

Honors and Awards

2003
Selected to contribute the essay on the English doctorate– “The Ph.D. in English: Towards a New Consensus”–as part of the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate, by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. read essay

 

2001
Essay “Taking Cover in Coverage” included in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Vincent Leitch, et. al., eds. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), pp. 2056-2066.

 

2001
One of three nominees for Second Vice-President (eventually President), Modern Language Association

 

2001
Conference session on my work: “Conflicts, Culture Wars, Curriculum: A Roundtable on Gerald Graff,” Modern Language Association annual meeting, New Orleans, December, 2001.

 

1999-2000
Spencer Foundation Research Grant

 

1994-95
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford California

 

1993
Frederick W. Ness Prize of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, 1993, for Beyond the Culture Wars

 

1992
NEH Fellow, Newberry Library, March-August, 1977
Beyond the Culture Wars chosen as a Reader’s Subscription
Book Club Selection, 1992
American Book Award for 1992 from the Before Columbus Foundation, for Beyond the Culture Wars

 

1990-
Elected to Modern Language Association Executive Council
Elected to MLA Division on Literary Criticism

 

1988-90
Executive Committee, Illinois Humanities Council
National Advisory Council, Association of American Colleges

 

1988-89
Fellow, Harvard University Center for Literary and Cultural Studies

 

1983-84
Board of Judges, Christian Gauss Award, Phi Beta Kappa Society

 

1983-84
John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Research Fellowship

 

1983
Named John C. Shaffer Professor of Humanities and English

 

1981
Illinois Arts Council Award for best essay by an Illinois writer for “Under Our Belt and Off Our Back,” TriQuarterly (Fall, 1981)

 

1980
Elected to MLA Division on 20th Century British Literature,Chairman of Division, 1983-84

 

1979
Pushcart Press Award for essay, “The Politics of Anti-Realism,” Salmagundi (Summer-Fall, 1978)

 

1979
Literature Against Itself (Chicago, 1979) named Readers’ Subscription Book Club Selection

 

1977
NEH Fellow, Newberry Library

 

1975
Illinois Arts Council Award for best essay by an Illinois writer in 1975, for “Babbitt at the Abyss,” TriQuarerly

 

Editorial Boards

TriQuarterly

Salmagundi

Works and Days

American Literary History

 

Major discussions of my work

2003
Symposium, “Teaching the Conflicts at Twenty Years” (Steve Benton, Jane Tompkins, Jeffrey Wallen, Robin Valenza, David R. Shumway, Craig Stroupe, with a response by Graff), Pedagogy 3, no. 2 (Spring, 2003), pp. 245-73.

 

2001
Essay “Taking Cover in Coverage” included in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Vincent Leitch, et. al., eds. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), pp. 2056-2066.

 

2001
Luchen Li, “Gerald Graff,” Twentieth-Century American Cultural Theorists: Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 246 (Columbia, S.C.: Bruccoli Clark Layman, Inc., 2001), pp. 1-10.

 

1989
George Levine, “Graff Revisited,” Raritan, VIII, 4 (Spring, 1989), pp. 121-33. William Cain, ed., Teaching the Conflicts: Gerald Graff, Curricular Reform, and the Culture Wars (New York: Garland Press, 1993).