James McKusick is Founding Dean of the Honors College and Professor of English at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. He completed his B.A. at Dartmouth College, and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. at Yale University. Before coming to UMKC, he was a faculty member in the English Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1984-2005), where he also served as Chair of the English Department (1998-2002) and Director of the Honors College (2002-2005). He also served as Dean of the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana (2005-2015). His research and teaching interests include British Romanticism, literary theory, environmental studies, and the history of science.
Over the last two decades, his scholarly work has pioneered the development of a new kind of literary criticism, known as eco‑criticism. This interdisciplinary approach to the study of British and American literature seeks to uncover the intellectual roots of the modern environmental movement in the poetics of nature in earlier periods. In his book, Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology, McKusick contends that the English Romantic poets created a new, holistic way of perceiving the natural world, an essentially ecological understanding of nature, which profoundly influenced the later history of science and culture.
McKusick is the author of two scholarly monographs: Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology (2000, paperback second edition 2010) and Coleridge’s Philosophy of Language (1986). He is co-editor of Faustus: From the German of Goethe, translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (2007) and Literature and Nature: Four Centuries of Nature Writing (2001).