Joseph Csicsila

A photo of Joseph Csicsila

Professor and Department Head

English Language and Literature

612 Pray-Harrold


[email protected]


  • Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Interests and Expertise

Joseph Csicsila joined the Department of English at Eastern Michigan University as an assistant professor in 2000. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Auburn University and the University of Nevada. Professor Csicsila teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature and literary criticism. In 2002 he received Eastern Michigan University's highest honor, the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching.

Csicsila's research focuses generally on American literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries. His principal interests include Mark Twain, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett and William Faulkner. In addition, Csicsila studies the ways that American writers have been taught in our nation's universities throughout the 20th century and how these pedagogical trends have impacted each author's place in the American literary canon as it has evolved over time. This line of inquiry is the subject of his first book, Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies, published in 2004 by the University of Alabama Press. In 2007 he was invited to join the six-person editorial team of The Prentice Hall Anthology of American Literature.

Csicsila's work on the treatment of American writers in the college classroom also led to his development of a groundbreaking course for literature and teaching majors at Eastern Michigan University called "Mark Twain for Teachers." In June 2002, Csicsila traveled with twenty undergraduate and graduate students from Eastern Michigan to Quarry Farm, Mark Twain's summer home in Elmira, New York, where he taught an intensive summer class that dealt primarily with the handling of Twain's best-known and oftentimes controversial writings in high school and college literature courses. In April 2017, he taught the course for a second time.

Professor Csicsila has delivered presentations around the country, including at the International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the Modern Language Association national convention, the American Literature Association annual conference and the College English Association annual meeting, to name a few. He has lectured at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Historical Society and the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York, where he has been a three-time scholar in residence fellow (1996, 2010 and 2015). Csicsila currently serves as editor of the Mark Twain Annual.


  • Mark Twain for teachers
  • Graduate studies in American literature
  • LITR 421 Studies in the American Novel
  • American Women's literature
  • LITR 160 African American Literature
  • Irish literature

Publications and Presentations

  • Heretical Fictions: Religion in the Literature of Mark Twain (University of Iowa Press, 2010)
  • Centenary Reflections on Mark Twain's No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (University of Missouri Press, 2009)
  • Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies (University of Alabama Press, 2004)
  • Co-editor, Prentice Hall Anthology of American Literature (2007, 2011)
  • Editor, The Gilded Age (The Modern Library, 2005)
  • "Life's Rich Pageant: The Education of August Feldner in Mark Twain's No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger"
  • "Religious Satire to Tragedy of Consciousness: Mark Twain's No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger"
  • "Louisa Ellis and the Unpardonable Sin: Alienation of Mary Wilkins Freeman's 'A New England Nun'"
  • "The Storm-Tossed Heart of Man: Echoes of 'Nausicaa' in The Sound and the Fury"
  • "An Old Southwesterner Abroad: Cultural Frontiers and J. Ross Brown"
  • " 'Isn't It the Stupidest Thing You've Ever Heard?': Human Struggle in Brian Friel's The Freedom of the City"
  • "Numerological Structures in 'The Memorandum of Martha Moulsworth' "