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Dr. Timothy Bintrim

Timothy Bintrim 2015

Title: Department Chair, Associate Professor of English and Environmental Studies
School: Arts & Letters
Academic Department: Environmental Studies
Academic Department: Literature and Languages
Phone: 814-472-3116
E-mail: tbintrim@francis.edu
Office Location: Scotus Hall 306


  • B.A. and M.A., Slippery Rock University (1988 and 1990)
  • Ph.D. in American Literature, Duquesne University (1996)


“The Internet is wonderful, but much of our collective past will never reach the Web unless researchers do the preliminary digging (even around toppled gravestones).” - Tim Bintrim

My teaching and publications stress real-world applications of archival research. For example, my first-year composition students profile a historic place that is in some way connected with their home, family, or passions. Many discover local histories, interview elders, and take original photographs of their site, all of which makes this first project significant. One student found his eighth great-grandfather, a colonel in the British Army, had directed the building of Fort Ligonier. Another wrote about his hunting spot marked by sinkholes from underground mine fires. The smoke rising from the earth, he thought, linked him to several generations of coalminer ancestors. My own research into century-old newspaper articles caused the gravestone of a once-famous American illustrator, Charles Stanley Reinhart, to be raised and remounted at Allegheny Cemetery of Pittsburgh. The Internet is wonderful, but much of our collective past will never reach the Web unless researchers do the preliminary digging (even around toppled gravestones).

Since 2007, I have developed courses in Western Pennsylvania Women Writers, Environmental Literature (team-taught on campus and at Juniata College’s Raystown Field Station), and Literature and Medicine. A founder of SFU’s biennial literary retreat on Western Pennsylvania Women Writers, I continue researching Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh decade (1896-1906). With other faculty, I have taken students off campus for a literary tour of Pittsburgh, a senior capstone course at the Harmonist village at Economy, PA, historical tours of the Mount Assisi Gardens built by steel-master Charles M. Schwab, and three overnight kayak trips to Raystown Lake. I am co-advisor with Lane Loya of the Environmental Action Society.

Academic & Professional Specializations

  • Willa Cather's Pittsburgh decade
  • American literature
  • environmental literature
  • archival studies
  • medicine in literature

Teaching Interests

  • literature and medicine
  • the politics of food
  • western Pennsylvania women writers
Conference Coordination
In June 2017, I will co-direct the Cather International Seminar in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University with colleagues and students from Saint Francis University, Duquesne, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, the Cather Foundation in Red Cloud, NE, and the Cather Project at University of Nebraska- Lincoln. The week-long seminar attracts two hundred scholars from across the United States.

In 1996, with fellow graduate student Ellen Foster, I proposed, developed, and directed Cather's Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh's Cather, a three-day commemoration of the centennial of Willa Cather's arrival in Pittsburgh, held Sept. 6-8, 1996, at Duquesne University. The conference was noticed by regional papers and nationally through the Associated Press. More than ninety persons from thirteen states enjoyed the walking tours, scholarly papers, a dramatized reading, and a concert of Cather's friend Ethelbert Nevin's music, later released on audiocassette.

At Saint Francis University, I have been an organizer and presenter at three biennial summer literary retreats on Western Pennsylvania Women Writers, the first of which featured Cather, Dillard, and Davis.
  • “Cather’s ‘Rosary’ and Nevin’s Legacy in April Twilights (1903).” Willa Cather Newsletter & Review 56.2 (Spring 2013): 28-33. 
  • “Exit Smiling: The Case for Paul’s Dandyism.” Essay in the peer-reviewed book collection, Willa Cather and Aestheticism. Ed. Sarah Cheney Watson and Ann Moseley. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2012. 17-28.
  • Review of Willa Cather: A Writer’s Worlds. Cather Studies 8. Edited by John J. Murphy, Françoise Palleau-Papin, and Robert Thacker. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010. Western American Literature (Spring 2011): 101-102. 
  • “George Gerwig’s Double Tragedy and Willa Cather’s ‘Double Birthday’” (co-written with Kari Ronning) Willa Cather Newsletter & Review 53.3 (Spring 2010): 78-84.
  • “Gathering by Moonlight: Another Prototype for the Russian Wolf Story in My Ántonia.” Teachin Cather [published by Utah State University] Ed. Steven Shively and Virgil Albertini. 10.2 (Spring 2010): 10-17.
  • Contributing researcher and photographer for the Cather Scholarly Edition of Youth and the Bright Medusa, ed. by Mark Madigan. U of Nebraska P, 2009. My contributions are noted on pages 307, 309, 322-330, 366, photographs 17 and 20, 428, 452.
  • "From Larceny to Suicide: The Denny Case and 'Paul's Case.'" (co-written with Mark Madigan). Essay in the peer-reviewed book collection, Violence, the Arts, and Cather (2007) from Fairleigh Dickinson UP, edited by Merrill Skaggs and Joe Urgo. 109-123, illustrated.
  • "Cather as Illustrator." Essay in peer-reviewed book collection, Willa Cather: New Facts, New Glimpses, Revisions. Ed. Merrill Skaggs and John Murphy. Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2008. 65-84 with 12 illustrations.
  • "Cather's Little-Known Friendships: J. R. Henry: The Cumberland Minister.” (co-written with Kari Ronning, research editor of the Cather Scholarly Edition) The Mowers’ Tree (Journal of the Cather Colloquium at U of Nebraska-Lincoln) Fall/Winter 2004): 4-7, 12-14, illustrated.
  • “A Note about Spelling Cather’s Pittsburg.” Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 46.3 (Winter/Spring 2003): 52-53.
  • “A Palm for Stanley: Reinhart’s Grave Restored Through Cather’s Writing.” (co-written with Mark Madigan) Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 45.4 (Fall 2002): 35-38.
  • "The Chinese Connection: Cather and Pittsburgh’s Chinatown” (co-written with Li Zhu.) Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 42.1 (Summer 1998): 1-5. (illus).
Student Advising

Directed Student Presentations/Independent Studies for:

Senior Capstone

  • “Investigating Rebecca Harding Davis’s ‘The Harmonists’: Was there harmony in Harmony?” (attended by 24 seniors)

Independent Study

  • American Literature Survey II
  • Palliative Comedy in American Fictions of War (Senior Honors Project)
  • Brochure on the History of the Charles M. Schwab Gardens (Environmental Literature class project)

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