College of Arts and Sciences selects new associate dean

Contact: Melissa Priebe

Dr. Nicolas Witschi

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Nicolas Witschi has been named associate dean of humanities and social sciences in Western Michigan University’s College of Arts and Sciences. A professor of English, he previously served as interim associate dean for the college.

"I am delighted that Dr. Nicolas Witschi has accepted the position of assistant dean," says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "He brings a wealth of experience from his prior work as interim associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and from his previous work as the chair of the English department. I am confident that he will excel in this leadership role at Western Michigan University."

As  professor of English, Witschi teaches courses in film interpretation, U.S. literature and culture and environmental literature. His research interests include the literatures and cultures of the American west, film history and criticism, American literary realism and naturalism, and detective fiction.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is uniquely poised to adapt and grow in what are challenging times throughout all of academia,” he says. “I look forward to helping the college continue to provide a wide variety of amazing, specialized programs in the context of its ongoing excellence in providing a solid educational grounding for all students at WMU.”

Witschi received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon after receiving an Master of Arts in English from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and television from New York University.

He has written several books, including "Traces of Gold: California's Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American Literature" and "Alonzo 'Old Block' Delano," an installment in the Western Writers Series. He also co-edited with Dr. Melody Graulich the scholarly collection "Dirty Words in Deadwood: Literature and the Postwestern."

He has published many articles and essays on Mary Austin, Mark Twain, John Muir, Sinclair Lewis and Henry James; and he served as the editor of "A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West." He also contributed for 11 years to the Late-19th-Century Literature chapter in "American Literary Scholarship: An Annual," published by Duke University Press.

Currently, he is working on a book-length study of the contributions of autobiographical writings by famous gunfighters to the development of the western as both a cultural phenomenon and a literary genre, as well as on an edited collection focused on the various Wests depicted in the works of Taylor Sheridan.

Witschi has taught as a Fulbright Junior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Regensburg in Germany, and he has participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on the Redemptive West in 2005. He has also received a Dean's Faculty and Staff Appreciation Award from WMU and fellowships-in-residence at the Huntington Library and the Houghton Library at Harvard University. He previously served as the co-president of the Western Literature Association, and he currently serves on the editorial board of the journal, Western American Literature.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.