Wayne Fields is a nationally known expert on American literature, non-fiction prose, rhetoric and American political argument. He received a bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy from Augustana College and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago. Fields is currently the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English, American Literature and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined Washington University in 1968 in the department of English, later serving as department chair and then as dean of University College and the director of its Master of Liberal Arts Program. He was also the driving force behind the establishment of the American Culture Studies Program, a multidisciplinary program that incorporates humanities, social sciences, arts and architecture and natural sciences. Fields served as the inaugural director of American Culture Studies until 2008.
His book, Union of Words: A History of Presidential Eloquence (1996) examines the use of rhetoric in presidential speeches, from declarations of candidacy to nomination acceptances, inaugural addresses, state-of-the-union speeches, declarations of war, executive farewells and other special addresses. His opinions are frequently sought by the national media to help interpret political speeches. He has served as a commentator for National Public Radio, Radio Free Europe and various television and radio network programs, and for five years wrote a regular column, "Close to Home," for St. Louis Magazine. Other books include James Fenimore Cooper: A Collection of Critical Essays (1979); What the River Knows: An Angler in Midstream (1990), a highly acclaimed non-fiction book about fly-fishing, the mysteries of rivers and the uncertainties of life's second half; and The Past Leads a Life of Its Own (1992), a collection of pieces about American boyhood. His essays include "One Hundred Years of Solitude and New World Literature," "The American Adams," and "To Redeem from Ignorance: Jefferson and the Liberal Arts."
Fields has also received several teaching awards including the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Interfraternity Council's Excellence in Teaching Award, and he has won fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Institute, the Ford Foundation and the National Humanities Institute.
The Wayne Fields Papers includes extensive draft materials toward his books and essays. Also included copies of publications featuring essays by Fields, a small amount of correspondence, clippings, and other ephemera.
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