James Caron


My research and teaching center on two broad areas. The first is American literature, especially from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Under this heading I have special interests in popular culture, comic writers in general and Mark Twain in particular, as well as Realist and Modernist novelists.  The second broad area includes the tradition of comic forms of literature in the West as well as non-literary comic arts in a variety of cultural settings. This second interest has lead me beyond literary criticism and aesthetics to study what other disciplines--such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, and medicine--have to say about the phenomenon of laughter, its value to a social group as well as to an individual, and the various cultural practices and arts which express a comic attitude.  As well as theories about comic art and comic laughter, I also have an interest in literary theory, particularly reader response theory. My publications include essays on the tall tale; on the role of evolution in comic laughter; antebellum comic writers in general as well as antebellum comic writers George Derby and George Washington Harris in particular; Mark Twain; Frank Norris; Hunter S. Thompson; Charlie Chaplin, and Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes.  Several of my articles can be accessed here, and a review of my book, Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter, can be accessed here.

Areas of Interest

19th-century American Literature, Mark Twain, comic art and literature, popular culture, realism and modernism, literary theory


College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature Excellence in Teaching Award, 2012


BA, Loyola University, Los Angeles MA, PhD, University of Oregon


Spring Semester 2018
  • ENG-735S: Seminar in Early American Literature: The American Renaissance Revisited

Fall Semester 2017
  • ENG-337: American Literature Mid-19th to Mid-20th Century
  • ENG-369: The Novel

Spring Semester 2017
  • ENG-491: Senior Honors Seminar: Contemporary Satire

Fall Semester 2016
  • ENG-320: Intro to English Studies
  • ENG-360: Prose Fiction