Profile: James Goodman

Distinguished Professor

Department of History, Graduate Program in American Studies, MFA in Creative Writing


Research, Teaching, and Writing: U.S. history; African-American history and race relations; historical writing; creative non-fiction; history as fiction; fiction as history; what history is and why it matters


James Goodman teaches history and creative writing. His passion, as a writer, as a teacher, and as the U.S. editor of the journal Rethinking History, has been to take literary form seriously in the reading and writing of history and every other form of non-fiction.  He believes that all writing (humanities scholarship no less than the fiction, poetry, and drama that humanists study) is creative writing.  His issues of Rethinking History feature the work of historians, scholars in other fields, creative writers inside and outside academe, and graphic artists struggling to find the forms—the literary structures, the perspective(s), the images, the voice(s), the words, the pace--that do their subjects the most justice.  His first book is  a narrative history of the Scottsboro Case and controversy written from many different points of view. His second book, Blackout, is a quick-cutting, kaleidoscopic recreation of the the blackout and blackout looting in NYC in the summer of 1977.  For his most recent book, he wandered far afield, exploring the long and twisted life of one of the most famous and infamous Hebrew bible stories, Genesis 22.  But Where Is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac was published by Schocken Books in 2013.   He has received fellowships and awards from NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and Stories of Scottsboro was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Courses Taught

    Graduate Courses

    Reading and Writing Narrative History

    The Poetics of History

    U.S. History in Fiction and Fact

    Writing American History

    Non-Fiction Writing Workshop


    Undergraduate Courses

    The History and Literature of Fact

    U.S. History in Fiction and Fact

    Contemporary U.S. History

    U.S. History in the Courtroom

    Race and Politics Since Reconstruction

    Reading and Writing About War



  • Education

    Princeton University, Ph.D., 1990
    New York University, M.A., 1983
    Columbia University, School of the Arts, Workshops in Poetry and Non-Fiction, 1980-81

  • Publications

    Abraham and His Son (UK edition of But Where Is the Lamb?, Sandstone Press, 2015).

    But Where Is the Lamb?: Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac (Schocken Books, 2013).

    "Fictional History," Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice 9 (June/September 2005): 237-253.

    Blackout (North Point Press, 2003, North Point Press, 2005).

    "Telling the Stories of Narrative History," Chronicle of Higher Education 44 (14 Aug. 1998): B4-5.

    "For the Love of Stories," Reviews in American History 26 (Mar. 1998): 255-274.

    Stories of Scottsboro (Pantheon, 1994, Vintage, 1995).


  • Awards

    Hosford Scholar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Newark  2011-2012

    Society of American Historians, elected 2009

    U.S. Editor, Rethinking History, 2007-

    Rutgers University Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, May 2005

    Shelby Cullom Davis Center Fellowship, Princeton University, 2000-2001.

    John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 1997-1998. 


  • Expertise

    The Writing of History
    History as Literature
    Literature as History
    Race Relations and Politics in U.S. History
    Modern U.S. History
    Popular Historiography

  • 307 Conklin Hall
    175 University Ave.
    Newark, NJ 07102

  • Weekdays, by appointment, at a time that works for you.