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JJ Butts

Associate Professor of English


B.A. English and Anthropology, Appalachian State University, 1995
M.A. English, Syracuse University, 1999
Ph.D. English, Syracuse University, 2006


I enjoy teaching a wide variety of courses in American literature, culture, and film, while specializing in modern, contemporary, and multiethnic literature.  Prior to joining the English faculty at Simpson in 2011, I worked at Wartburg College, Syracuse University, American University, and several schools in New York City, including Hunter College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  I have published articles on depictions of public housing in New Deal guidebooks and on urban collective novels, and an essay on African American documentary texts in the 1940s was just published in African American Review. My current book project, Building in the Valley of Ashes: Community and Development in New Deal Era Urban Literature, highlights the promotion of narratives of community, modernity, and development in New Deal documentary texts and literary responses by African American and Jewish writers from the 1930s to the 1950s.  I am one of the founding organizers of MUCH: The Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities and also serve as the book review editor for The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-45, a journal of interdisciplinary scholarship focusing on the period between the World Wars.

Outside my teaching and scholarly activities, I enjoy spending time with my family; pursuing outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and climbing; exploring Iowa’s cultural, culinary, and musical resources; and playing various stringed instruments (primarily the banjo).


Academia.edu Profile

MUCH: The Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities

The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-45