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Harold K. Bush, Ph.D.

Department of English


M.S., Indiana University, 1986
M.A., Indiana University, 1991
Ph.D., Indiana University, 1994

Research Interests

American Literature and American Studies, Historical Approaches to Literature, Cultural Studies, Mark Twain, the Profession of English, Christianity and Literature

Publications and Media Placements

  • Regular contributor to Christian Century, Books & Culture, The Cresset, and other popular publications
  • Continuing Bonds with the Dead: Parental Grief and Nineteenth-Century American Authors.
    This project considers how the loss of children has been a surprisingly constructive source of cultural power for nineteenth-century American authors. Theoretical premises derive from recent psychological discussions of generativity and "redemption sequences" (Erikson, McAdams), parental bereavement narratives (Klass, Neimeyer, Valentine), as well as recent theological considerations of hope (Moltmann, Ricoeur). Major authors under consideration include Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, W. D. Howells, Mark Twain, and W. E. B. Du Bois.
  • The Mark Twain -- Joseph H. Twichell Letters. Co-edited and co-written with Peter Messent, University of Nottingham, UK.
    (under contract with the University of Georgia Press; forthcoming in Fall 2017)
    This project consists of a chronological publication of the known and extant correspondence of Mark Twain with one of his best friends, the Rev. Joe Twichell of Hartford, covering a long period of almost 40 years. The volume will include extensive contextual commentary and other apparatus, written by the co-editors, and will represent the first major new volume of the correspondence of Mark Twain with one of his three closest friends in over 20 years.

  • Above the American Renaissance: Continuing the Legacy of David Reynolds. Co-edited and introduction co-written with Brian Yothers, University of Texas-El Paso.
    This project consists of a volume of essays on the spiritual and religious elements "above" the work of this important period of American literature, roughly 1835-1865. This volume will also present a further rethinking of David Reynolds's achievements in Beneath the American Renaissance, particularly as major innovator within the mode that has come to be known as "cultural biography." The list of contributors features many of the field's top scholars, including Reynolds.

  • Lincoln in His Own Time (University of Iowa Press, 2011)
    More than any other American before or since, Abraham Lincoln had a way with words that has shaped our national idea of ourselves. Actively disliked and even vilified by many Americans for the vast majority of his career, this most studied, most storied, and most documented leader still stirs up controversy. Showing not only the development of a powerful mind but the ways in which our sixteenth president was perceived by equally brilliant American minds of a decidedly literary and political bent, Lincoln in His Own Time provides some of the most significant contemporary meditations on the Great Emancipator's legacy and cultural significance.

  • Mark Twain and the Spiritual Crisis of His Age (University of Alabama Press, January 2007)
    This book focuses on Mark Twain's knowledge of and engagement with nineteenth-Click Here For Amazon Linkcentury Christianity, the Social Gospel, and more generally, as the title suggests, with the spiritual crises that peppered his major period as a writer. It includes extensive treatment of Twain's deep friendship with his pastor in Hartford, Joseph Twichell‹a topic of great concern (though generally neglected) in any attempt to come to terms with Twain's views of the Bible, religion, and the Christian life throughout his major period. This book constitutes a major addition to recent work on Mark Twain, particularly in its attempt to historicize the religious milieu of the period, as reflected in Twain's achievement and thought. It includes selections from Twichell's personal papers, thus making available to scholars heretofore unpublished documents. The upshot of the volume is a full reconsideration of Twain's immersion in, and often sympathy with, the religious cultures of his era.

  • American Declarations: Rebellion and Repentance in American Cultural History. (University of Illinois Press, 1999)
    Significant moments in American literary history, such as public speeches that generate considerable reaction, are widely publicized precisely because they strike a powerful resonance within the American public sphere as manifestations of key cultural conflicts. Moreover, such public performances have frequently drawn upon such key mythic models as the Declaration of Independence and the act of Christian repentance. American Declarations clarifies how public debate has served to define, defend, and reshape the regnant myths of America and considers how both major and minor literary figures have participated in such debate. Figures studied include Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Robert Frost.

Articles and Review Essays:

  • "Continuing Bonds and Emmett Till's Mother," Southern Quarterly 50.3 (Spring 2013): 9-27.
  • "Christianity, Literature, and American Empire," Christianity and Literature 62.3 (Spring 2013): 275-96.
  • "A Moveable Feast, Contemporary Neuroscience, and 'One True Sentence,'" forthcoming in Moveable Feasts: New Essays on Hemingway's Posthumous Works (Kent State UP, 2015).
  • "Nakeder than Adam and Eve": Theodicy, Empire, and 'Systemless System' in the New Edition of the Autobiography of Mark Twain," Hokkaido American Literature 29 (summer 2013): 2-27.
  • "Travels with Dan Brown." The Christian Century (Sept. 9, 2013): 36-8.
  • "Finding the Face of Jesus: Studies in Race, Religion, and the American South." The Cresset (April. 2013): 51-4.
  • "What the Historians Think About Spielberg's Lincoln." Cineaste (March 2013): 22-33.
  • "Abraham Lincoln and Spiritual Crisis." In The Cambridge Companion to Abraham Lincoln,ed. Shirley Samuels, Cambridge UP, 2012: 126-40.
  • "'The Pandemonium That Went On': An Unpublished Letter by Jean Clemens." American Literary Realism 44.1 (Fall 2011): 68-73.
  • "Kissing the Bricks and Fly-Fishing for God: Teaching Literature as Spiritual Discipline." Renascence (Spring 2010): 237-53.
  • "'Transfigured by Oratory': Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Mark Twain, and American Civil Religion." Co-authored with Joe Webb. Mark Twain Annual (Fall 2009).
  • "The Prophetic Imagination, the Liberal Self, and the Ending of No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger," in Centenary Essays on No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger, eds. Joe Csicsila and Chad Rohman, University of Missouri Press, 2009.
  • "Whitman's Café: Reviving the American Conversation." The Cresset (Fall 2009): 17-25.
  • "Rereading Old Books: Symbol Drain and 'The West Wing.'" The Cresset (Spring 2009): 60-65.
  • "The Real Deal: The Words of Barack Obama." The Cresset (Fall 2008): 30-36.
  • "Rereading Old Books: Baldwin's The Fire Next Time." The Cresset (March 2008): 29-32.
  • "The Measure and Style of Acceptance: A Conversation with Richard Ford." Co-authored with Fred Arroyo. Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 2008).
  • "Mark Twain's Interviews: Supplement Two." Co-authored with Joe Webb. American Literary Realism 40.3 (Spring 2008): 272-80.
  • "Grief Work: After a Child Dies." The Christian Century (Dec. 11, 2007): 36-9.
  • "Cradling Lives in Our Hands: Towards a Theory of Cultural Biography."Christianity & Literature 57.1 (Fall 2007): 119-38.
  • "Mark Twain's Lincoln as 'Man of the Border': Religion, Freethinking, and the Civil War." In There Before Us: Religion, Literature, and Culture from Emerson to Wendell Berry, ed. Roger Lundin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007. 141-71.
  • "Writing's 'Privileged Gesture': An Interview with Richard Ford." Co-authored with Fred Arroyo. Indiana Review 28.2 (Winter 2006): 89-106.
  • "Searching for Home." (Review essay on Richard Ford's trilogy). Southern Review 44 (Spring 2007): 461-66.
  • "Wendell Berry, Seeds of Hope, and the Survival of Creation." In a special issue devoted to Berry. Christianity & Literature 56.2 (Winter 2007): 297-316.
  • "'Hunting for Reasons to Hope': A Conversation with Wendell Berry." In a special issue devoted to Berry. Christianity & Literature 56.2 (Winter 2007): 214-234.
  • "'A Passion for the Impossible': Richard Rorty, John Okada, and James Baldwin." In The Gift of Story: Narrating Hope in the Postmodern World, eds. Emily Griesinger and Mark Eaton (Waco: Baylor UP, 2006): 171-86.
  • "The 'Metaphysics of America' and the 2004 Presidential Election,"Integrite 3.2 (Fall 2004): 65-71.
  • "Mark Twain's American Adam: Humor as Hope and Apocalypse," Christianity & Literature, 53.3 (Spring 2004): 291-314.
  • "Ecclesiastes and Revelation: The Embodiment of Authentic Hope in the Classroom," Integrite 1.2 (Spring 2003): 5-16.
  • "Christ as Telos: 'The End' of the Christian University," The Heithaus Forum (Spring 2003). 
  • "Harriet Beecher Stowe." Commissioned essay for the Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Ed. Timothy Larsen (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003). 641-4.
  • "'Broken Idols'": Mark Twain's Elegies for Susy and a Critique of Freudian Grief Theory," Nineteenth-Century Literature 57.2 (Sept. 2002): 237-68.
  • Notes for Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. Modern Library edition, Winter 2002.
  • "'A Moralist in Disguise': Mark Twain and American Religion," chapter for The Oxford Historical Guide to Mark Twain, ed. Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Oxford University Press, 2002). 55-94.
  • "Personally Speaking: Mark Twain and the 'Autobiographical Critic,'" in Mark Twain Among the Critics, ed. by Richard Hill & James McWilliams (Whitson 2002).
  • "Politics," in The Robert Frost Encyclopedia, ed. by Nancy Lewis Tuten and John Zubizarreta (Greenwood Press, 2001): 283-87.
  • "Demythologizing Adam: Mark Twain and the Nature of Man," in Critical Essays on the Myth of the American Adam, eds. Viorica Patea & Maria Eugenia Diaz (University of Salamanca Press, 2001): 147-62.
  • "Emerson, John Brown, and 'Doing the Word': The Enactment of Political Religion at Harpers Ferry, 1859," in The Emerson Dilemma: Essays on Emerson and Social Reform, ed. T. Gregory Garvey (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2001): 197-217.
  • "Hope, Eschatology, and Literary Studies: Prospects for a New Millennium," Religion & Literature 33.2 (Summer 2001): 97-110
  • "The Outrageous Idea of a Christian Literary Studies: Prospects for the Future & A Meditation on Hope," Christianity & Literature 51.1 (Autumn 2001): 79-103.
  • "Our Mark Twain? or, Some Thoughts on the 'Autobiographical Critic.'" The New England Quarterly 74.1 (March 2000): 101-22.
  • "The Declaration of Independence and Uncle Tom's Cabin: A Rhetorical Criticism Approach," in Approaches to Teaching Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, ed. by Elizabeth Ammons and Susan Belasco (MLA, 2000): 172-83.
  • "'Absorbing' the Character: James Whitcomb Riley and Mark Twain's Theory of Performance." American Literary Realism 31.3 (Spring 1999): 31-47.
  • "Richard Henry Dana, Jr.," in the Dictionary of American Biography: Travel Writers, 1800-1865 (Gale Research, 1998), pp. 78-89
  • "'Our Great Confused West': Further Attempts to Define Mark Twain."College English (Spring 1998): 192-201
  • "Acting Like Mark Twain: Performance in Nineteenth-Century American Culture," American Quarterly (June 1997): 404-13.
  • "Structural America: The Persistence of Oppositional Paradigms in American Literary Theory." College Literature 23.2 (June 1996): 181-88
  • "The Mythic Struggle Between East and West: Mark Twain's Speech at Whittier's 70th Birthday Celebration and W. D. Howells's A Chance Acquaintance." American Literary Realism 27.2 (Winter 1995): 53-73
  • "Robert Frost Writing the Myth of America: Rereading 'The Gift Outright.'" The Robert Frost Review (1995): 45-55.
  • "Re-Inventing the Puritan Fathers: George Bancroft, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Birth of Endicott's Ghost." ATQ: American Transcendental Quarterly 9.2 (June 1995): 131-52.
  • "Poststructuralism as Theory and Practice in the English Classroom." ERIC Digest (1995).
  • "A Brief History of PC, With Annotated Bibliography." American Studies International (Apr. 1995): 42-64.
  • "Reader Response Theory: Reading, Writing, and Literature Practices in Classrooms." Reading Research and Instruction 33.4 (Summer 1994): 326-30.
  • "'Beating Back the Monsters': George Orwell and the Morality of Fictions." Christianity & Literature 42.2 (Winter 1993): 333-41.
  • "Using Television Commercials To Help Students Discover Their Audiences." Exercise Exchange 39.1 (Fall 1993): 9-13.

Community Work and Service

Chairman of the board for New Covenant Legal Service, a local non-profit offering legal advice for the poor and the displaced.