Faculty Profile

American Studies Faculty

Robert Niemi, PhD

English Department Chair, Professor of English

M.A., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst
M.S. Columbia University
B.A. University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Areas of Expertise:

American Studies; American literature and cultural history; film studies; critical theory; popular culture studies

Courses I Teach:

  • Advanced film courses
  • American literature surveys
  • Critical Theory
  • Genres: Film

Most of my research and publishing is in American Studies areas (i.e., contemporary literature, film, cultural studies and critical theory), which makes for a close and lively reciprocity between my research and teaching.

One of my recent books, History in the Media: Film & Television — a major reference work covering over 350 films — was published by ABC-Clio in 2006. My fourth book, The Ultimate, Illustrated Beats Chronology, was published by Soft Skull Press in 2011. I also have a major critical-biographical essay on Depression-era poet Genevieve Taggard coming out in Scribner’s American Writers series in 2011.


Robert James Niemi, Saint Michael's College professor of English, received the Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award, presented in ceremonies held September 28 at the annual Saint Michael's College Academic Convocation in McCarthy Arts Center. Professor Niemi was selected by his faculty colleagues, and the citation was read by last year’s recipient of the award, mathematics professor Joanna Ellis-Monaghan, who also gave the Convocation Address, "Math and the World."

The citation:

In his 22 years at Saint Michael's College, Bob Niemi has become one of the most prolific scholars in the English Department and the College.  Though quiet and modest, Bob works with ferocious dedication, discipline, and intellectual passion.  His acumen as a literary critic is grounded in humanistic values and social justice.

From Emily Dickinson to Jimi Hendrix

Bob's scholarship is notable for its breadth, spanning the fields of film studies, 19th and 20th C. American fiction and poetry, Naturalism and Existentialism, critical theory, music and literature, popular culture, Marxist analysis and working class writers.  He speaks with authority about Robert Musil and Robert Johnson, Emily Dickinson and Jimi Hendrix. 

Though strongly grounded in American Studies, he is cosmopolitan in his tastes.  He synthesizes fields in original ways, and routinely assimilates his research into his teaching.  A sampling of course titles indicates his far-reaching interests:  Melville and Pynchon, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick, Film Noir, the Horror Film, Literature of the American Dream, Literature of the Great Depression, Madness and Modernism, the Life and Art of Bob Dylan, The Beat Generation.  Enlivened by his work as a scholar, such courses have been popular with students and have greatly enriched the English major curriculum.

Niemi's books

The sheer quantity of Bob's peer-reviewed scholarship is reason enough for recognition.  He has published four books:  Russell Banks (1997), The Bibliography of Weldon Kees (1997), History in the Media: Film and Television (2006, revised 2013), and The Ultimate, Illustrated Chronology of the Beats (2011).  He has written over 40 articles, book reviews, and encyclopedia entries and gives several conference presentations a year. His writing is of great service to other scholars and is widely cited.

Trained as a librarian as well as a literary critic, Bob's scholarship is meticulous and his writing is elegant.  He has a particular commitment to the work of recovering lost and overlooked but important American writers, contributing to the important work of enlarging the literary canon.  His work always attends to the complex dynamics of race, class, and gender as they play out textually and in literary history. 

His colleagues can be inspired by Bob's strong work ethic and commitment to the life of the mind.  In recognition of his accomplishments, we, the faculty of Saint Michael's College, are proud to present the 2012 Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award to Professor Robert James Niemi.

See the repeat in vermontbiz.com.

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