Wayne Franklin has long been associated with American Studies, first at the University of Iowa, whose long established program he joined in 1980, becoming its chair in 1990. His work at Iowa centered on early American subjects, as well as on material culture, vernacular architecture, and landscape. He was also one of the founders and faculty members in Iowa’s American Native/Native Studies program. In 1994, he became Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University. He came to UConn in 2005 to serve as director of its relatively new American Studies program, which he expanded and extended to UConn’s other campuses. In 2009, he was chosen head of the UConn English department.
He is the author of books on early American travel writing (Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers, 1979) and the frontier fiction of Cooper (The New World of James Fenimore Cooper, 1982), as well as in the field of material culture (A Rural Carpenter’s World, 1990) and cultural geography (Mapping American Culture, 1992, co-edited with Michael Steiner). He founded the University of Iowa Press’s American Land and Life series in 1990, eventually editing some thirty books in it, and from 1994 to 2015 he was one of the editors of the Norton Anthology of American Literature. Most recently, he has published a two-volume definitive biography of Cooper (JFC: The Early Years, 2007; The Later Years, 2017, both from Yale). In American Studies at UConn, he has taught courses in Memory and the American Revolution and The Making of the New England Landscape. He is also now active in the UConn Environmental Studies Program.