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Department of English Language and Literature


David Cowart

Title: Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: HUO, Room 318

English Language and Literature
Curriculum Vitae [PDF]



PhD, Rutgers University
MA, Indiana University
BA, University of Alabama


    American Fiction After 1945 (special interest in Pynchon, DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy)
    Modern British and American Literature


   • ENGL 282    Fiction
   • ENGL 285    Themes in American Writing
   • ENGL 287    Introduction to American Literature
   • ENGL 288    Introduction to British Literature I
   • ENGL 289    Introduction to British Literature II
   • ENGL 385    Modernism
   • ENGL 386    Postmodernism
   • ENGL 413    Modern English Literature
   • ENGL 423    Modern American Literature
   • ENGL 425    Topics Courses on Modern American Novel, Encyclopedic Imagination
   • SCHC 450-60    Proseminars on Pynchon, Current Novels, Literary Symbiosis
   • ENGL 752    Modern American Fiction
   • ENGL 753    American Novel Since World War II
   • ENGL 840-850    Seminars in Literary Originality, Postmodernism, Immigrant Literature


   • Eugene Current Garcia Award ($5000 for a distinguished Alabama literary scholar), 2018
    Fulbright Specialist, 2013-2018, 2001-2006
    Board of Trustees Professor (University of South Carolina, 2006)
    Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, Japan, 2005
    SAMLA Studies Book Award for Don DeLillo: The Physics of Language ($1000 prize for best scholarly book by a SAMLA member), 2003
    NEH Fellowship 2002-2003
    Louise Fry Scudder Professor, 1998
    Chair in American Studies (Fulbright Distinguished Appointment), University of Odense, Denmark, 1996-1997
    University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Award, 1995
    Michael J. Mungo Award for Undergraduate Teaching, 1995
    Bicentennial Chair in American Studies (Fulbright Distinguished Appointment), University of Helsinki, 1992-1993
    NEH Summer Stipend, 1990 (for work on Literary Symbiosis)
    Department of English Outstanding Teacher, 1990
    Amoco Outstanding Teaching Award, 1987 (now the Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year Award)
    Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion cited among the Outstanding Academic Books of 1980 by the editors of Choice


In retirement, I try to keep my hand in as an interpreter of DeLillo and Pynchon.  At the same time, I aspire to a place at the Cormac McCarthy studies table, with an eye to an eventual monograph.  Scholarly journals and university presses continue to call on me to vet submissions.

One of the joys of retirement is the freedom to read as haphazardly as one did in one’s early years—so I’ve reread Moby-Dick and made my way through the first volume of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Then there’s Penelope Fitzgerald and Paulette Jiles and Amor Towles and even Andrus Kivirähk (The Man Who Spoke Snakish) and Yan Ge (Strange Beasts of China).

I’ve also had time to edit and publish my father’s World War II memoir: Green Bars: An American Bomber Pilot's Personal Story, 1942-1945, by Eugene G. Cowart (Bowker: 2021).    


   • “A Rose for Lester Ballard: Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God and Southern Mythmaking,” forthcoming in Memory and Literature: Essays in Honor of Zygmunt Mazur, ed. Michal Choinski and Monika Coghen (Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press, 2025).
   • “Cormac McCarthy’s Abendrot,” American Book Review 44.4 (Winter 2023): 175-179.
   • “Time and Loss: Don DeLillo and the Imagination of Archaeology,” The Edinburgh Companion to Don DeLillo and the Arts, ed. Catherine Gander (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023), pp. 413-426.
   • “‘Few Peers But Many Heirs’: DeLillo’s Literary Legacy,” Don DeLillo in Context,, ed. Jesse Kavadlo (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022), pp. 309-317.
   • “McCarthy, Cormac,” Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction 1980-2020, ed. Patrick O'Donnell, Stephen J. Burn, Lesley Larkin. Vol. 2, Ch. 98, pp. 1-7 (London: Wiley, 2022).
   “The Allusive Art of Cormac McCarthy’s The Orchard Keeper,” Arizona Quarterly 77.3 (Fall 2021): 27-54.
   • The Self-Reflexive Art of Don DeLillo, by Graley Herren” (review), Modern Philology 118.2 (November 2020): 144-146.
   • “History and Metahistory,” Thomas Pynchon in Context, ed. Inger Dalsgaard (London: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 104-111.
   • “Don DeLillo’s Zero K and the Dream of Cryonic Election,” Don DeLillo: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, ed. Katherine Da Cunha Lewin and Kiron Ward (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), pp. 143-157.
   • “Death and the Wastrel: McCarthy’s Suttree,” Modern Philology 115.3 (February 2018): 391-411.
   • “Prolonged Periodization: American Fiction after 1960,” Cambridge Companion to Postmodern American Fiction, ed. Paula Geyh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 28-46.
   • “‘Down on the Barroom Floor of History’: Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge,” Postmodern Culture 24, no. 1 (September 2013): 10055 words online.
   •  “Anger, Anguish, and Art: Palahniuk’s Choke,” Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, and Choke, ed. Francisco Collado-Rodríguez (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), 157-174.
   • “The Lady Vanishes: DeLillo’s Point Omega,” Contemporary Literature 53, no. 1 (2012):  31-50.


   • The Tribe of Pyn: Literary Generations in the Postmodern Period (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015), 258 pp.
   • Thomas Pynchon and the Dark Passages of History (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 250 pp.
   • Trailing Clouds: Immigrant Fiction in Contemporary America (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2006), 256 pp. 
   • Don DeLillo: The Physics of Language (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2002), 257 pp.  SAMLA Studies Book Award (2003).  Expanded paperback edition (274 pp.), 2003.
   • Literary Symbiosis: The Reconfigured Text in Twentieth-Century Writing (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1993), 232 pp.  Expanded, revised paperback edition (254 pp.), 2012.
   • History and the Contemporary Novel (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), 245 pp.
   • Arches and Light: The Fiction of John Gardner (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983), 227 pp.
   • Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980), 154 pp.  Second printing, 1982.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.