James A Schiff
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Jim Schiff received his B.A. from Duke University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. He is the author or editor of five books on contemporary American fiction, including John Updike Revisited, Understanding Reynolds Price, Updike's Version: Rewriting The Scarlet Letter, and Updike in Cincinnati. He was named by the John H. Updike Literary Trust to edit a volume of Updike's letters, which will be published in 2022. His essays and interviews have appeared in American Literature, Critique, Missouri Review, Southern Review, South Atlantic Review, Studies in American Fiction, Tin House, and elsewhere. He reviews books for newspapers, magazines and journals, and serves as the editor of the John Updike Review as well as a consulting editor of Critique and Philip Roth Studies. He has served on various boards, including the Duke University Trinity Board of Visitors, the University of Cincinnati Foundation, The Seven Hills School, the Community Learning Center Institute (CLCI), WCET-TV, and the Mercantile Library.
Ph.D., 20th-Century American Literature: New York University 1990
M.A., English, Creative Writing: New York University 1985
B.A., English, cum laude: Duke University 1981
History of the Novel
- Professor of English , University of Cincinnati, 1989 -,
John Updike: Selected Letters (2022).
Updike in Cincinnati: A Literary Performance (Athens: Ohio UP, 2007).
John Updike Revisited (New York: Twayne, 1998).
Critical Essays on Reynolds Price (New York: G. K. Hall, 1998).
Understanding Reynolds Price (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996).
Updike’s Version: Rewriting “The Scarlet Letter” (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1992).
Books reviewed in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, American Literature, Vanity Fair, Booklist, The Southern Review, Mississippi Review, Critique, American Literary Scholarship, Modern Fiction Studies, Duke Magazine, Spectator Magazine, Christianity & Literature, Choice, North Carolina Libraries, American Studies International, and elsewhere.
Essays and Book Chapters:
Approximately 30 essays in such journals as: American Literature, Critique, The John Updike Review, South Atlantic Review, Southern Review, and Studies in American Fiction; and in such books as The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists, The Cambridge Companion to John Updike, Critical Insights: John Cheever, New Essays on Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth in Context, Updike and Politics: New Considerations.
Sample of essays:
“Philip Roth on Philip Roth,” Philip Roth in Context, edited by Maggie McKinley (Cambridge University Press 2020).
“Updike and the American Presidency,” Updike and Politics: Due Considerations, edited by Matthew Shipe and Scott Dill (Lexington Books 2019): 11-25.
“John Updike and David Foster Wallace: Of Binaries, Sports Writing, and Transcendence,” Critique 59.1 (2018): 15-26.
“Robinson and Updike: Houses, Domesticity, and the Numinous Quotidian,” This Life, This World: New Essays on Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home, edited by Jason W. Stevens
(Brill/Rodopi Dialogue Series 2016): 237-53.
“John Updike,” The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists, edited by Timothy Parrish (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 250-59.
“Reading and Writing on Screen: Cinematic Adaptations of McEwan’s Atonement and Cunningham’s The Hours,” Critique 53.2 (2012): 164-73.
“Updike, Film, and American Popular Culture,” The Cambridge Companion to John Updike (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), ed. Stacey Olster, 134-48.
“Rewriting Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway: Homage, Sexual Identity, and the Single-Day Novel by Cunningham, Lippincott, and Lanchester,” Critique 45.4 (Summer 2004): 363-82.
"'The Pocket Nothing Else Will Fill': Updike's Domestic God," John Updike and Religion (Eerdmans, 1999), ed. James Yerkes, 50-63.
"Contemporary Retellings: Smiley's A Thousand Acres as the Latest Lear," Critique 39.4 (Summer 1998): 367-81.
“Fathers and Sons in the Fiction of Reynolds Price: ‘A Sense of Crucial Ambiguity,” Critical Essays on Reynolds Price (G. K. Hall, 1998), 261-78. A revised and much expanded version of an essay which appeared earlier in Southern Review.
"Updike Ignored: The Contemporary Independent Critic," American Literature 67.3 (September 1995): 531-552.
8 Interviews with George Saunders, John Updike, Michael Cunningham, Jonathan Lethem, Margot Livesey, Chang-rae Lee, Julian Barnes, Jeffrey Eugenides in Tin House, Southern Review, Missouri Review, et al.
3 Bibliographies, including "John Updike" in the Oxford Bibliographies Online: American Literature (Oxford UP 2015).
The John Updike Review. Founding editor. Edit two issues per year, beginning Fall 2011.
Boyce Teaching Award, Nominated by student letter: 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015
Boyce Teaching Award, Runner-Up, 2003
Boyce Teaching Award, 2015
“Evening with a Great Professor,” Recipient, 2006
Nominated for Barbour Teaching Award in 2001
Conference Papers, Invited Presentations and Lectures, Public Interviews:
“Updike and the American Presidency,” Fifth Biennial Updike Society Conference, Belgrade, Serbia, June 2018.
“A Conversation with Zadie Smith,” 30th Annual Niehoff Lecture, Cincinnati, OH, November 2017.
Panelist, roundtable discussion of Philip Roth’s Kepesh Novels and The Professor of Desire, American Literature Association, Boston, MA, May 2017.
“’That a marriage ends is less than ideal’: Revisiting Updike’s Maples Stories,” American Literature Association, Boston, MA, May 2017.
“Novelist as Sportswriter: David Foster Wallace and John Updike,” Fourth Biennial Updike Society Conference, Columbia, SC, October 2016.
“‘Rabbit Remembered’ and Its Various Intertexts,” American Literature Association, Boston, MA, May 2015.
“The Future of Updike Studies,” Third Biennial Updike Society Conference, Reading, PA, October 2014.
Keynote Event, Panelist, Coalition for Community Schools National Convention, Cincinnati, OH, April 2014.
“Updike and Other Writers,” Updike in Boston: Second Biennial Updike Society Conference, Boston, MA, June 2012.
“A Conversation with Nicholson Baker,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, May 2011.
“Resources for Teaching ‘A & P,’ ‘Pigeon Feathers,’ and ‘Separating,’” Pedagogical Session, Updike in Pennsylvania: The First Biennial Updike Society Conference, Reading, PA, October 2010.
“Resistance to Rabbit Is Rich,” Updike in Pennsylvania: The First Biennial Updike Society Conference, Reading, PA, October 2010.
“Updike Abroad,” panel chair, American Literature Association, San Francisco, CA, May 2010.
“Breaking the Rules,” panel on “John Updike: Fifty Years of Influence,” American Literature Association, Boston, MA, May 2009.
“Remembering John Updike,” Remembering John Updike, Reading Public Library, public memorial for John Updike, Reading, PA, April 5, 2009.
“John Updike on God, Sex and Witches,” The Spirit of Things, ABC National Radio, Australia, March 1, 2009.
“The Death of John Updike,” BBC, United Kingdom, January 27, 2009.
“Lessons in Paying Attention,” invited speaker and panelist, “Reynolds Price Jubilee,” Duke University, Durham, NC, January 2008.
Keynote Speaker and honoree, “Evening with a Great Professor,” University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, September 2006.
“A Conversation with Chang-rae Lee,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, May 2006.
“A Conversation with Margot Livesey,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, April 2006.
“A Conversation with Julian Barnes,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, January 2006.
“A Conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, April 2005.
“A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem,” an interview, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, March 2005.
Keynote Speaker, Cum Laude Society Dinner, Seven Hills School, Cincinnati, OH, April 2005.
Academic and Community Service:
University of Cincinnati, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature
Undergraduate English Society, Advisor, 2014-16
Chair, Contemporary Anglophone Fiction Search, 2013-14
Graduate Studies Committee, 2011-12
Fiction Writer Search Committee, 2010-11
Visiting Fiction Writer Search Committee, 2010
Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2006-07, 2008-10
Undergraduate Studies Committee, 2004-10, 2012-14
Chair, Undergraduate Studies Committee, 2006-07, 2008-10
Undergraduate Advisor, 2004-14
Steering Committee, 1998-2002, 2003-04, 2006-07, 2008-10
Headship Search Committee, 2006-2007
Short Story Festival, Conference Organizer & Co-Director, 2001
(Received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council)
Fiction Search Committee, 2001-2002
Visiting Poet/Fiction Search Committee, 2001
Fiction Search Committee, 2000-2001
Ropes Lecture Committee, 1999-2007
Taft Dept. Enhancement Grant Committee, 1999-2000
Boyce Teaching Award Committee, 1998, 2016
Special Events Committee, 1997-2014
Special Events Committee, Chair, 2010-11
Development and Grants Committee, 1997
General Education Course Development, 1995
Literary Prize Committees, 1989-91, 1997-,
University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati Foundation Board, Trustee, 2008-20
Development Committee, Foundation Board, 2008-17
Trustees & Governance 2014-16, 2017-20
Herschede Society, 2020-
Campaign Leadership Committee, 2007-13
Judge, Midwestern Assoc of Graduate Schools Thesis Competition,
Distinguished Alumni Prize Committee, 2000
Future Search, 1997
Consultant/Introduction, Evening with a Great Teacher Award, 1997-99
Consulting Editor, Philip Roth Studies, 2011-
Editor, John Updike Review, 2009-
Consulting Editor, Critique, 2003-
Outside reader of manuscripts and essays:
The Ohio State University Press
University of Missouri Press
University of Florida Press
University of Kansas Press
Ohio University Press
Lehigh University Press
Journal of American Studies
Studies in American Fiction
Religion & Literature
South Atlantic Review
Christianity & Literature
Philip Roth Studies
The John Updike Review
Papers on Language and Literature
Book Magazine, 2000-2003
Duke University, Trinity College Board of Visitors, 2007-14
Board Chair, 2011-13
Undergraduate Life Committee, 2007-11
Undergraduate Life Committee, Chair, 2010-11
Duke University, Trinity College, Dean’s Search Committee, 2014-15
Duke University, Braxton Craven Society, Co-Chair, 2013-15
Duke University, Duke Forward Capital Campaign Steering Committee, 2013-17
The John Updike Society
Community Learning Center Institute
Board Member & Vice-Chair, 2009-
Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation
Robert C. and Adele R. Schiff Foundation
The Seven Hills School, 1998-
Advisory Council, 2010-
Board Member, 1998-2010
Board Chair & President, 2004-09
Executive Committee, 2002-09
Governance Committee, 2002-09
All Board Committees, ex officio, 2004-09
Diversity Coordinator Search Committee, 2005
Upper School Design Review Committee, 1998-2001
Land Use Committee, 1998-2001
Books for Lunch, Author Selection, 1998-2000
Diversity Review Committee, 1999-2000
Parent Leadership Committee, Capital Campaign, 1999-2002
Educational Policy and Values Committee, 2000-2004
ISACS Steering Committee, 1999-2000
Strategic Planning Steering Committee, 2001-2002
Strategic Planning Diversity Committee, Chair, 2001-2002
Strategic Planning Governance Committee, 2001-2002
Head of School Search Committee, 2002
Head of School Search Committee, 2008
Summerbridge Ad-Hoc Committee, 2002-2003
Evaluation Sub-Committee, 2003-07
CET-TV, formerly WCET-TV or Channel 48
Board Member, 1993-99
Executive Committee, 1996-99
Nominating Committee, 1996-98
Development Committee Chair, 1993-99
Strategic Planning Committee, 1997-99
Capital Campaign Planning Committee, 1998-99
Cincinnati Preservation Association
Board Member, 1993-1994
Judge, Cincinnati Magazine Short Story Contest, 1993
Cincinnati Mercantile Library
Board Member, 1991-2002
Nominating Committee Chair, 1997-99
Executive Committee, 1996-2002
Literary Events Chair, 1991-2002
Development Committee Chair, 1997-99
Collection Committee, 2000-2002
Cincinnati Association for the Blind
Development Committee, 1991-1993
Languages: French, Spanish
Professional Organizations: John Updike Society, National Book Critics Circle, Modern Language Association,