Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Bruce Michelson

Professor of English and Center for Global Studies

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Research Interests

Based on lectures I gave in Germany in 2011, I am writing two essays on the evolving predicament of biographical and autobiographical narrative, the verbal reconstruction of personal identity, in a context where the inscription and and collation of electronically-gathered data, on nearly every aspect of public and private life, poses an unprecedented challenge – an immense and ever-accumulating alternative biography, possibly accelerating beyond our own agency, as subjects and interpreters, to edit or escape. For the American Humor Studies Association, I am preparing a more-conventional essay called “Humor Studies, Humor Research,” which describes and differentiates these scholarly practices, addresses the habit of using these terms interchangeably, and advocates for a stronger relationship between our study of the comic and our broader critical and theoretical discourses. At the University of Rochester in Spring 2012 I gave a paper called “American Realism in the First Virtual Age,” describing how technological and aesthetic developments in the middle of the 19th century posed an ontological challenge for young American authors taking up the realist project.

Selected Publications


  • Teaching with the Norton Anthology of American Literature: A Guide for Instructors. WW Norton, 2007.
  • Printer's Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution . University of California Press, 2006.
  • Literary Wit. University of Massachusetts Press , 2000.
  • Mark Twain on the Loose: A Comic Writer and the American Self. University of Massachusetts Press , 1995.
  • Wilbur's Poetry. University of Massachusetts Press , 1991.

Book Contributions

  • "The Mind-Sciences in the Humanities Classroom." he Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
  • "Mark Twain’s Mysterious Strangers and the Motions of the Mind." Centenary Reflections on Mark Twain’s No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009.