News Room

Dean Eric Carl Link's Biography

Meet the Dean

The new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Eric Carl Link, was born in Oklahoma, but was raised in the metropolitan Boston area. After graduating from Saugus High School just north of Boston, Link relocated to the Midwest, where he attended a small liberal arts college in Springfield, Missouri, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science in Communications (with a speech and theater communications emphasis) in 1988. He went on to earn a master’s degree in English from Southwest Missouri State University (now simply called Missouri State) in 1991. After graduating from SMSU, he moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, where he earned a Ph.D. in American literature from Purdue University in 1995. 

After graduating from Purdue, Link took a position as an assistant professor of American literature at North Georgia College (now called the University of North Georgia). In his second year at North Georgia, Link was given an endowed chair—the Hugh Shott Professorship in English—a title and position he would hold for the next decade. During his twelve years at North Georgia, Link served in a variety of administrative positions, including a period as head of the Department of Language and Literature. The Department of Language and Literature was the largest department on campus and featured programs in English, French, Spanish, German, and journalism. Link also served at different times as internship coordinator, director of graduate studies for the Department of English, and assessment coordinator.

In 2008, Link was awarded his first Fulbright Grant. He traveled to Lutsk, Ukraine, in the spring of 2008 and taught American literature and consulted on program development and curriculum design at Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University. Upon returning from Ukraine, Link relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where he served as chair of the Department of English for five years and as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for two years. During that span, he also received a second Fulbright Grant, which took him to Switzerland in 2011, where he taught American literature at the University of Fribourg. In addition, in 2012 Link was invited to give a series of guest lectures at two universities in Nanjing, China. 

As well as being a tenured full professor and an accomplished and respected administrator, Link is a prolific researcher, having written or edited nine books and over 50 articles and book chapters published in academic and scholarly journals and presses. Most of his research and teaching falls generally into two areas within American literary studies: late nineteenth-century American literature (specifically American literary naturalism) and science fiction. His first book, Neutral Ground: New Traditionalism and the American Romance Controversy (1999), examines certain debates revolving around aesthetic theory in the nineteenth century and some of the cultural and political implications of those controversies in the twentieth century. He followed up this study with The Vast and Terrible Drama: American Literary Naturalism in the Late Nineteenth Century (2004). This study looks at the emergence of the literary movement called literary naturalism in the second half of the nineteenth century. The literary naturalists were those authors in the late nineteenth century (including Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London, and Frank Norris) who wrote works of literature that were strongly influenced by new developments in science and philosophy after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859.

Link’s interest in the intersections of science, philosophy, and literature—which is what drew him to his ongoing work on American literary naturalism—also drew him to the teaching and study of science fiction. His 2010 book Understanding Philip K. Dick was a product of these interests, and at the University of Memphis he founded the Science Fiction Research Collective, an outlet for graduate students and faculty members to engage in ongoing dialogue about issues related to the critical study of science fiction. He is also the coeditor of the recently published Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction (2015), as well as the forthcoming Cambridge History of Science Fiction. He is also working on a book on science fiction author Octavia Butler.

In addition to the studies mentioned above, Link has edited several collections of essays, including Critical Insights: Herman Melville (2012), Critical Insights: The Red Badge of Courage (2010), Mark Twain: Taming the Bicycle (2009), and he is the coeditor (with Donald Pizer) of the Norton Critical Edition of The Red Badge of Courage (4th edition, 2008). He is the founder of the scholarly journal ALN: The American Literary Naturalism Newsletter and has served as its editor-in-chief since 2006. He is the president of the Frank Norris Society and serves on the board of directors of the Theodore Dreiser Society and the Jack London Society. He has also coauthored a writing-across-the-curriculum textbook titled Crosscurrents: Reading in the Disciplines (2012). 

His teaching and research have won multiple awards over the course of his career. In 2007 he was named the Distinguished Professor of Teaching and Learning at North Georgia, and in 2015 he was given the Distinguished Research Award in the Humanities by the University of Memphis. In addition, an essay Link wrote titled “Huck the Thief” won the 2000 Victor J. Emmett Memorial Prize for the best literary essay of the year. 

Dean Link is joined here at IPFW by his wife Laura, who is an assistant professor in the College of Education and Public Policy. They have four children: Sarah, who lives with her husband Scott in Memphis; Nathaniel, who is a junior at Clemson University studying computer science and philosophy; Natalie, a seventh grader who is attending Maple Creek Middle School; and Nolan, a fourth grader attending Cedar Canyon Elementary School.