Michael D. Butler

Michael D. Butler
  • Associate Professor Emeritus

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My connected narrative or autobiographical memory started up in a small, isolated town sitting on the line exactly between desert to the east and mountain forest to the west; afterward I led a very nomadic childhood and youth which ranged through all regions in the nation and to some outside.   Probably because of that, I have always been interested in how questions of identity and belonging play out and are mapped in literature and language.  That led to my early specialization in 19th-century American literature as well as my studies in historical narrative, regional writing, and popular literature.  I’m now studying the same subjects in Australian literature, focusing my research particularly on the contemporary experiments in diverse forms of historical narrative by writers who seek to address a troublesome past and remap or rewrite it as well as the people and places of Australia—writers like Peter Carey, Kate Grenville, Richard Flanagan, Richard King, Gail Jones, Matthew Condon, Delia Falconer, and, especially, Alexis Wright.


Australian literature; 19th century American literature; regional literature; recent popular literature.

Selected Publications

Contributing bibliographer since 1974 for “Annual Bibliography of Midwestern Literature,” edited by Robert Beasecker and published in MidAmerica, the annual yearbook of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.

Articles on 19th Century American and Far-Western American writing

"Sons of Oliver Edwards; or, the Other American Hero," Western American Literature, 12 (May 1977): 53-66.

"Narrative Structure and Historical Process in The Last of the Mohicans," American Literature, 48 (May 1976): 117-139.                               

 “Overland: J. W. DeForest versus the Conventional West, a Study in Literary Failure,”Southwestern American Literature, 5 (1975): 88-99

Various literary encyclopedia articles/entries on American humorists, Western writers and literary magazines, among them: Owen Wister, Orpheus C Kerr, Thomas Morton, Frances Whitcher, Jubilee DaysHumbug.