Jake Mattox

Jake Mattox

Department Chair

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information

Office Location: Wiekamp Hall, Room DW3146
Office Phone: (574) 520-4408

Go Here for current Office Hours


Ph.D. Literature (University of California, San Diego, 2007)
M.A. Literature (University of California, San Diego, 2003)
B.A. English (Pitzer College [Claremont Colleges], 1992)

What I do

I teach a variety of periods of U.S. literature—mostly, though not entirely, pre–1900. I’m particularly invested in teaching U.S. literary production as a centrally multicultural endeavor, but that goes beyond simply an appreciation of different cultures and groups with their linguistic and cultural traditions. It also means considering “literature” broadly speaking as a terrain on which social and political struggle is waged. I also want to foreground the larger questions on which our study is based: what is literature and why does it matter?

In my research, I’m currently working on three projects. The first two are anchored in the 1850s, during the period of expansionism just after the U.S.-Mexico war and following the beginning of the Gold Rush. In my work, I consider how different forms of writing—such as journals and scientific essays—imagine and make claims to spaces not formally incorporated into the geographical United States. Fast-forwarding roughly seven decades, I am also interested in the Wolfson Press’s rediscovery of Buford Gordon’s The Negro in South Bend, a 1922 sociological study and appeal to local leaders to address the difficulties and racism faced by African Americans locally. I’m interested in how the text juggles both conciliatory and radical claims for reform, and I’m also exploring how the 2009 reissuance of this text works within a larger context of current forms of public memory in South Bend regarding race and justice


U.S. Literature and Culture, especially pre–1900
Literature and Empire
Critical Race Theory
Cultural Studies

Other Things

Shooting pool, backpacking, and telenovelas

Courses Recently Taught at IU South Bend

ENG-L 202: Literary Interpretation
ENG-L 207: Women and Literature: The Literatures of Protest
ENG-L 352: U.S. Literature 1865–1915
ENG-L 351: U.S. Literature 1800–1865
ENG-L 350: American Literature to 1800
ENG-L 460: Senior Seminar: Sports Matters
ENG-L 653: Optimism and Fear in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Culture
ENG-T 190: Literary and Intellectual Traditions: Myths of the U.S. West
ENG-T 390: Conquest, “Progress,” and the U.S. West

Service at IU South Bend

Chair, African American Studies Committee
American Studies Committee
Civil Rights Heritage Center Faculty Advisory Committee
CLAS Trustees' Teaching Award Committee
Campus Ally Network (CAN)

Honors and Awards

2008 Faculty Research Grant


"In Nicaragua with Martin Delany and the 'Cotton Americans,'" American Literature (forthcoming Sept. 2009)

"Cormac McCarthy," Blackwell Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Fiction (forthcoming)

"Kurt Vonnegut," Blackwell Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Fiction (forthcoming)

Review of Black Nationalism in the New World by Robert Carr, Mississippi Quarterly, 16.3 (Summer 2003): 445-448

Review of Buffalo Bill's Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History by Joy S. Kasson, Western American Literature 38.1 (Spring 2003): 88-90

Selected Papers and Presentations

"But Why Aren't We Reading American Literature in This Class?": Learning to Teach Multi-Ethnic U.S. Literatures," MELUS Annual Conference, April 2009 (Spokane, WA)

"'A Ghastly Pudding': Mobility, Resistance, and Dissolving Bodies in the Fiction of George S. Schuyler," The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, February 2009

“Dis/Claiming Panama: Women's Travel Writing and Antebellum U.S. Visions of America,” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, October 2007 (Philadelphia, PA)

"Providential Circulation: Antebellum Science, Manifest Destiny, and National Space,” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, October 2005 (Washington, D.C.)

“Popular Science, Popular Literature: The Antebellum Geographies of Matthew Maury,” Western Humanities Alliance Annual Conference, October 2005 (Tucson, AZ)