contemporary authors in academia?

Somehow I usually find myself answering questions instead of asking them, but not in this case. A friend of mine is working on his thesis which has to do with Tolkien, and we were discussing various aspects of this. He was wondering about authors, preferably alive and primarily of speculative or historical fiction, who also teach in related fields. Amazingly, I drew a blank on this (perhaps distracted by too many other things), so I thought I’d ask LJ-mind for suggestions….

36 responses to “contemporary authors in academia?

  1. This is not exactly what he’s looking for, but close–Sharan Newman (author of the historical mystery series about Catherine LeVendeur) doesn’t teach as far as I know, but she does hold a Ph.D. in medieval studies from I believe U of California at Santa-Barbara.

  2. Related fields as in English or writing?
    Off the top of my head and hoping that I don’t misunderstand the question… Dora Goss, John Kessel, Joe Haldeman, Jim Kelly.
    Um. It seems to help to have a name starting with J.

    • Or was that related fields as in related to the content of their work?

      • He wasn’t specific because I think he didn’t have much of a place to start. I’m assuming someone who wrote historical fiction and taught in a specialized historical era might also be the kind of thing he’s looking for. Since this thesis is centered on Tolkien and he became a professor at Oxford, I suspect that has something to do with the sort of thing sought. I think what he was looking for was how academia might influence writers, or something along those lines.

  3. Tim Powers, who primarily writes alternate-history speculative fiction, teaches creative writing at the Orange County High School of the Arts. James Blaylock, a friend of Powers’, is the Director of Creative Writing at OCHSA. I understand Powers also occasionally teaches at the college level as well.

  4. Diane Pharaoh Francis, who writes fantasy novels, teaches English, composition, and related courses at a Montana university. She’s online here at LJ, under the name difrancis (insert little head logo at your leisure…)

  5. Vernor Vinge, of course. Although he’s retired now.
    Hal Clement taught on the high school level.
    Suzette Haden Elgin taught linguistics, but she’s also retired.
    Rudy Rucker, /also/ retired.
    Cordwainer Smith… man, I can’t recall any who’re actually current. Cordwainer Smith taught Asian studies, anyhow, which is maybe not so related.

    • Although if your friend is looking for authors whose published work was affected or influenced by their academic work? Those five are prime material.

  6. What about Umberto Eco? He writes historical and fantastic stories, and is a professor of semiotics.

  7. authors
    The writers John Rowe Townsend and Jill Paton Walsh both teach children’s literature at that conference that alternates between Cambridge England, and a US location (Cambridge MA?). I couldn’t find the link, but John also has the book WRITTEN FOR CHILDREN which is a study of children’s literature and is basically the bible for the topic. They’re both friends of mine and very nice and accessible people (living in Cambridge). I bet they have something to say about Tolkien!

  8. Stuart Kaminsky taught at Northwestern, and James Gunn taught at Kansas.

  9. Travis S. Taylor is a Physics PhD who writes space opera’s that center around some fairly advanced theoretical physics. I know he does a bit of teaching. I can’t remember what college/university off the top of my head, but I know he teaches at at least one school. He’s also working on his Astronomy PhD at the moment, so he’s probably doing some teaching related to that as well.
    He also published a text book on planetary defense theory and is teaching a course in it as a special topic.

  10. John Gardner
    Not really contemporary since he died in 1982, but John Gardner was a professor of writing. I highly recommend his book Grendel. 🙂

  11. I believe PC Hodgell (she’s not that well known; she’s published through Meisha Merlin once every… oh, 3-5 years or so, although I think her first book was out with DAW) teaches.

  12. Kathy Reichs… she’s a Forensic Pathologist she also gives lectures on Forensic Pathology and writes the Temperance Brennan series about a Forensic Pathologist

  13. K.D. Wentworth just retired from teaching high school. English, I believe. A very new short story writer, Melissa Tatum, teaches law in Tulsa. I can’t remember the name of the school off hand, but I think it maybe the only law school there.

  14. Orson Scott Card teaches, but he teaches writing rather than stuff related to the subjects about which he writes…but you probably knew that 🙂 Plus, I’m not sure he’s still at a university — he might only do seminars at the moment.

  15. I’ll jump in before she can do it herself… *g* has a PhD in Medieval Studies from Yale, and taught writing for a while, back when she was my Medieval Latin prof at Wesleyan. (Now THAT was a fun semester. Hardest course I ever took in my LIFE. :})
    I would imagine it would be very easy to trace a positive impact upon the writing of historical fiction from academia. If nothing else, knowing how to do research properly and efficiently is of utmost importance!

  16. Tom Shippey teaches seminars on Tolkien, and has written books about him and his influence, if I recall correctly…

  17. She’s perhaps forgotten now since I believe much of her work is op, but SF writers Joan Slonczewski is a biologist and academic (and I think this shows in the work).
    Plenty of other SF writers who’re also academics: Susan Palwick, Joe Haldeman,
    And some academics who later publish fiction, too.
    Probably the best thing might be for your friend to investigate things like the academic group the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts (

  18. How about Eloisa James? She is a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University. Her real name is Mary Bly.

    • They aren’t speculative or historical, but Jennifer Crusie is an English prof if I’m remembering right and Kathy Siedel has a PhD in English Lit. I don’t know if Kathy has taught in a university setting, but she definitely draws on her academic background when discussing contemporary writing. There’s a fairly new author, Marliss Melton who wrote a couple of historical romances as Marliss Moon. She is an adjunct linguistics prof at William & Mary. She writes Navy Seal contemps now. I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I can pull out of the brain at the moment.

  19. contemp authors in academia
    Dr. Lee Tobin McClain teaches at Seton Hill University, and also directs the M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction program. She writes YA and romance.
    Shelley B.

  20. , aka Melissa Marr, was a lit professor until I think last year, when she decided to write full time. She’s HarperCollins children’s banner release this spring (Wicked Lovely, with more books to follow). The book is urban fantasy, and is related to her academic focus (myth, fairy tale, Celtic beliefs), from what I can tell.

  21. I seem to recall Barbara Hambly holding a PhD, which means she at least likely taught as a teaching assistant, but I don’t remember mention of her still teaching.

    • Note: I believe that the same is the case for Patricia Briggs, but she has no bio on her site, so I cannot confirm right now.

  22. Ooh! Ooh! Deborah Doyle!

  23. I would also add to the list Laurie J. Marks – she does some feminist-esque fantasy (Fire Logic/Earth Logic/Water Logic) and teaches at the University of Massachusetts – Boston.

  24. A “lecturer” actually (so not tenure track), but yeah.

  25. David Brin? Catherine Asaro?

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