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James Ryan

James Ryan

Jean W. Liles Professor of English


Provost Liaison


James Ryan

Contact Me

9010 Haley Center

Office Hours

Monday, Wednesday 12:00 - 1:00 pm or by appointment

About Me

Jim Ryan's primary research fields are early American literature and interdisciplinary American studies. In particular, he studies ways that American writers and literary cultures have been shaped by transformative historical forces such as religion, politics, technology, and commercial media. A focus on the evolving role of print media in the representation of religious life led to his book, Imaginary Friends: Representing Quakers in American Culture, 1650-1950 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009).

He recently completed a long-term project on the rise and development of American Roman Catholic literature and its adaptation by non-Catholic writers. His latest book, Faithful Passages: American Catholicism in Literary Culture, 1844-1931 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), examines the development of Catholic literary evangelism in the United States and also investigates the ways that non-Catholic modernist writers responded to and adapted the Catholic literary tradition.

Students working with Professor Ryan have written theses and dissertations on a wide range of subjects in early and contemporary American studies, including mesmerism and health in the work of Margaret Fuller, cinematic representations of the nuclear age, archetypal analysis of Henry Thoreau's writings, family and gender identity in 19th-century American bestsellers, queer theory applied to the novels of Henry James, Quaker discourse in 18th-century novels by Charles Brockden Brown, religion and family life in the Oneida perfectionist community, racial and gender identity in Southern fiction, scientific discourse among American transcendentalists, and representations of masculinity in contemporary graphic novels.

Research Interests

early American literature, interdisciplinary American studies


  • Faithful Passages: American Catholicism in Literary Culture, 1844-1931. University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.
  • Imaginary Friends: Representing Quakers in American Culture, 1650-1950.  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.
  • “American Catholic Publishing to 1860.” Oxford History of Popular Print.  Eds. Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016.
  • “Friend on the Western Frontier: Charles Pancoast’s A Quaker Forty-Niner and the Problem of American Slavery.” Quakers and Abolition. Ed. Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014, pp. 149-164.
  • “Peking to Paris in 1907: Writing the Golden Age of Motoring.”  Studies in Travel Writing 17.2 (June 2013): 116-132.