Jason Arthur, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English, Chair of English Department English


Office: Arrupe Hall 240

"But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in."
-The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, 2008, Junot Díaz

  • B.A., Rockhurst University, 1999
  • M.A., Creighton University, 2001
  • Ph.D., University of Missouri, 2007

Dr. Arthur teaches and writes about twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture. He also coedits the Journal of the Midwest Modern Languages Association.


His first book, Violet America: Regional Cosmopolitanism in U.S. Fiction Since the Great Depression (University of Iowa Press, 2013) is a literary history of resistance to cultural polarization. Beginning with the Federal Writers’ Project and extending to Oprah’s Book Club, Violet America tracks a spirit of social welfare in post-Depression U.S. fiction and finds that, despite the rise of neoliberalism and drop in participatory democracy, a reconciliatory “regional cosmopolitan” sensibility persists.


His current book project, Missing the Blackout: Seventies Nostalgia in Twenty-First-Century Fiction and Film, examines the efficacy of nostalgia for the 1970s, a decade wherein U.S. culture failed to articulate a counter-ideology to neoliberalism but that, in the process of failing, produced artifacts that trigger longing for the experience of life in a pre-neoliberal world. Such nostalgia can ignite dormant impulses toward solidarity and civic duty, toward commitment to the idea that we are never free from one another.


Select Scholarly Publications:

  • Violet America: Regional Cosmopolitanism in U.S. Fiction since the Great Depression (University of Iowa Press 2013)
  • “The Rise of the Elsewheres.” Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 48.1 (2015): 7-18.
  • “The Chinatown and the City: Kingston, Kerouac, and the Bohemian Bay Area.” Modern Fiction Studies 58.2 (2012): 239-260.
  • “‘Our Business is Going in the Hole’: Russell Banks and the Self-Destruction of New England Fiction.” College Literature 39.3 (2012): 106-128.
  • “Allen Ginsberg’s Biographical Gestures.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 52.2 (2010): 227-246.
  • “Revising the Great Depression.” the minnesota review 71-72 (2009): 277-283.

Select Public Writing:

  • “Sweet Bitterness: Why We Need More Novels About Work” The Millions (July 2016)
  • Rev. of Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam The Rumpus (June 2016)
  • “The Human Deep Within the Machine” The Millions (March 2016)
  • “Craig Finn on His New 9/11-Themed Solo Album and Whether the Hold Steady Will Return” Slate (July 2015)
  • “Good Riddance to the Goodbye-to-New-York Essay” The Rumpus (Nov 2014)