MacArthur Fellows Program

James A. McPherson

Writer | Class of June 1981

Charlottesville, Virginia
38 at time of award
July 27, 2016

James McPherson is a teacher and a writer whose work explores the relation of African-American and American cultures.

With compassion, subtlety, and humor, McPherson’s fiction depicts the lives of ordinary characters who face universal, human struggles and maintain a sense of dignity despite their sometimes desperate situations.  His essays and literary studies are concerned with the history of American ideas, technology, and law.  His many books include Hue and Cry (1969), Railroad (1976), his short story collection, Elbow Room (1977), Crabcakes (1998), Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men (co-editor, 1998), and A Region Not Home: Reflections from Exile (2000).  His essays and stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and in such publications as the Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, the New York Times, and the Iowa Review.

McPherson is the F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Iowa.  He taught English previously at the University of Virginia, Harvard University, Morgan State University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

McPherson received a B.A. (1965) from Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Georgia, a J.D. (1968) from Harvard University’s Law School, and an M.F.A. (1971) from the University of Iowa.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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