Ohio State University
Born in Flushing, NY, James Phelan received his BA from Boston College (1972) and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1977). He began as an Assistant Professor at Ohio State in 1977, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1983 and to Professor in 1989. He served as Department Chair from 1994-2002; in 2004 he was awarded the University's Distinguished Scholar Award.
Phelan's work focuses on theoretical issues or problems in narrative. He has written about style in Worlds from Words; about character and narrative progression in Reading People, Reading Plots; about voice, character narration, ethics, and audiences in Narrative as Rhetoric; and about the rhetoric and ethics of character narration in Living to Tell about It. He has also published the autobiographical journal Beyond the Tenure Track and has edited, with Peter J. Rabinowitz, Understanding Narrative, and, with Gerald Graff, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Case Study in Critical Controversy, and The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy.
Since 1992, Phelan has been the editor of Narrative, the journal of the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature and winner of the 1993 CELJ Award for Best New Journal. Since 1993, he has been co-editor, with Peter J. Rabinowitz, of the Ohio State University Press series on the Theory and Interpretation of Narrative.
Essays in Partial Answers
The Beginning and Early Middle of Persuasion; Or, Form and Ideology in Austen's Experiment with Narrative Comedy
Volume 1, Number 1, January 2003
Literature and Ideology
The English Novel
Judgment, Progression, and Ethics in Portrait Narratives : The Case of Alice Munro’s “Prue”
Volume 4, Number 2, June 2006
Narrative as a Way of Thinking