University of Oregon Professor Emeritus James W. Earl earned his PhD in medieval English literature at Cornell University in 1971. He taught at the University of Virginia and at Fordham University before joining the UO Department of English in 1987. He cofounded the UO Medieval Studies Program in 1990 and was its first director.
Most of his teaching and research have centered around Anglo-Saxon (Old English) literature, especially Beowulf, but he has also published and taught on a variety of topics in English and American literature, the humanities, religion and literature, psychoanalysis, and the literature of India. He is the author of three books: Thinking About Beowulf (Stanford, 1994); The World of Literature (Prentice Hall, 1999); and Beginning the Mahabharata (SASA, 2011); as well as many scholarly articles and essays.
Earl founded the UO Insight Seminars in 2003. Since then he has offered many month-long seminars on topics in the humanities ranging from Homer, Herodotus and the Bible, to Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Gandhi.