Samuel Coale

Professor of English, Emeritus


Ph.D., Brown University
B.A., Trinity College


Having received my Ph. D. from Brown University in American Civilization–my focus was literature in a historical, social and cultural context—I came to Wheaton to teach courses in American literature from postmodernism to poetry, senior seminars that included Hawthorne, Faulkner, Dickinson, DeLillo, Didion, Morrison and others, and, like everyone in the English Department, taught courses at all levels from First-Year Writing to survey courses.  These included courses on nature’s role in fiction and film, various topics, and at one point a course on the films of Elizabeth Taylor, perfect to look at gender, racial and social roles in the late 1950s and 1960s.  Four books on Hawthorne clearly revealed my focus, until I branched out into quantum theory, conspiracy theory and mysteries. I also wrote individual works on John Cheever, Anthony Burgess, Paul Theroux, and William Styron.

At the moment I’m writing a book on the Big Bang Theory, the form of origin stories, and the post-World-War-One philosophies of Heidegger and Wittgenstein.  I intend to explore their influence on popular fiction, such as mysteries, and the postmodern novel.
I will be teaching a senior seminar on Don DeLillo in Fall 2022 at Wheaton.



Pursuing the Sublime in the Digital Age (New York: Peter Lang, 2019).

Nathaniel Hawthorne in the College Classroom, Second Edition (Brighton: Edward Everett Root Publishers, 2018).

Teaching Hawthorne:  Nathaniel Hawthorne in the College Classroom, a collection of essays co-edited with Christopher Diller (AMS, 2016).

 Articles in Books

“DeLillo and Modernism:  The Sentence And/As The Soul” and/or ”DeLillo and (Post)Modernism: Rites and Reasons” in Don DeLillo in Context (New York: Cambridge, 2022).  This will be published in May, 2022, and I’m not sure which title was chosen.

“The Scarlet Letter Casts Its Shadow” in Critical Insights: The Scarlet Letter (Grey House Publishing.).  Publication pending.

“Conspiracy, Paranoia and Hashslingz” in Thomas Pynchon in Context (Cambridge, 2019).

“Hawthorne, Mesmerism and Pseudo-Sciences,” Nathaniel Hawthorne in Context (Cambridge, 2019).

Papers Read/Panels/Conferences

“Death, Dualisms and Distance: Poe, Hawthorne, and the Trance” at the Fifth International Edgar Allan Poe Conference in Boston, April 8-11, 2022.

Moderator for The Great American Novel Series:  Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Zoom, September 7, 2021, with Chuck Baraw, Monika Elbert and Brenda Wineapple, hosted by the National Association of Scholars

“On Hawthorne” at the International Poe and Hawthorne Conference in Kyoto, Japan, June 21-24, 2018.

Teaching Interests

This fall semester I taught an English 101 course on conspiracy theory, English 346 on quantum theory, and a Senior Honors Seminar on William Faulkner, one of my first great loves that sent me to Mississippi when writing my dissertation at Brown. In 101 we read such writers as Joan Didion, Tim O’Brien, Paul Auster, Denis Johnson, and Don DeLillo. DeLillo, Auster, Didion, and Thomas Pynchon played major roles in 346.

I enjoy teaching first-year courses on mysteries, gothic fiction, postmodern fiction–once on the films of Elizabeth Taylor–upper-level courses on all periods of American literature, and the English Romantic poets, courses in fiction, single-author senior seminars on Toni Morrison, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Don DeLillo, and independent studies and theses on fiction, graphic novels, music blogs, and single authors. I served as Department Chair for one year, 2009-2010, while the real chair vanished on a much-needed sabbatical. I hoped to double faculty salaries, add a wet bar to the faculty dining room, and write a comic opera featuring willing members of the department. I failed in all respects but kept the machinery well oiled and running.


Student Projects

Resident Director for 28 Wheaton students abroad in the United Kingdom and Ireland at the Universities of Sussex and Edinburgh, Oxford, the London School of Economics, the University College of Cork, and the BU Internship Program in London: August – December, 2004. A terrific time, living on “The Street” in “Kingston Near Lewes” near the University of Sussex in East Sussex, about twenty minutes north of Brighton. This is part of Wheaton’s rapidly expanding Global Education program.

Recent projects have included independent studies and Senior Honors Theses on American poets, short stories, Faulkner, American and Japanese postmodern novels, Heavy Metal interpretations of American Literature, original fiction, quantum theory and Pynchon and Auster, working with two students on writing this last spring, and others. It’s a good deal for both student and teacher, and this kind of independent study thrives at Wheaton.