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William Decker

Regents Professor of English



William Merrill Decker earned his BA at Denison University and PhD at the University of Iowa. Specializing in American literature, autobiographical genres, and critical race studies, he has taught at OSU since 1994 and has served as Graduate Studies Director and Department Head. His single-author books include The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams (University of North Carolina Press, 1990), Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America before Telecommunications (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood (Syracuse University Press, 2012), and Geographies of Flight: Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler (Northwestern University Press, 2020). Additionally, he is an editor of and contributor to Henry Adams and the Need to Know (University of Virginia Press, 2005) and his articles have contributed to the scholarship of James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Margaret Fuller, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Henry James. Professor Decker has held appointments as Fulbright Scholar (Université catholique de Louvain, 2008-2009) and as DAAD Guest Professor (Universität Paderborn, 2012), and has taught in OSU’s summer Cambridge Scholars Program. In 1998, he received the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty Research Award and in 2016 the Regents Distinguished Research Award. In 2005, he was elected Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


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William Decker


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