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Idaho State University
Hal Hellwig

Hal Hellwig

Associate Professor of English

Office: LA 207-D



PhD in English (1985), University of California, Los Angeles

MA in English (1976), California State University, Fullerton

BA in English (1972), State University of New York, Buffalo


I delivered a paper “Venice: Mark Twain, A Vulgar Tourist Among the Phantoms of Poetry and Romance,” at the South Central Modern Language Association conference last November, 2016, in Dallas, Texas.

I have a book review on Faulkner and Film that will appear in the next issue of South Central Review: The Journal of the South Central Modern Language Association.

I gave a talk at the University of Venice, Italy, "Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad:  Among the Monuments of Time,” to both students and faculty, at the Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Culturali Comparati (Universita Ca’Foscari Venezia), on April 10, 2017.

I have some leftover Euros from my stay at the Vittore Branca Center, a residential center sponsored by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini (an educational/cultural institution based on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore), and I did most of my research at one of its library systems, Nuova Manica Lunga, with an extensive collection on art history, the culture of Venice, music, theatre, and literature.  I was in residence April 3 through April 26, and managed to visit a good number of the churches of Venice, along with the major art and historical museums of Venice.  I believe there are about 56 churches in Venice, though I only had time for the ones that American writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries frequented.  The churches of Venice have an impressive collection of art on their walls and ceilings.

I’ll be heading to Elmira, New York, August 3-5, where I'll be delivering a paper “Innocence at Home": Mark Twain's Italian Villa, Stormfield, and the Cultural Influence of Italy on Quarry Farm,” at Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, a conference at Elmira College, though a number of events occur at Quarry Farm. 

There’s a trend here: I’m on a sabbatical studying the influence of Italian culture on something like 40 American writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, figures including James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Mark Twain, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and many others.  A number of these writers went elsewhere in Italy, to be sure, but Venice proved a major focus for most.  The art of Italy is central, though I am most interested in the American artists John Singer Sargent and James McNeil Whistler, whose lengthy stays in Venice had important influences on some of these writers. 

In my spare time I am working to complete a separate book-length manuscript on the influence of American literature on film noir, something that I’ve been working on for a number of years.  (That explains the book review I’ve done on film studies.)

Courses Taught

I've taught at ISU since 1987, so I've an array of teaching interests. Time changes perspectives, so I've evolved. My teaching has included some of the following courses:


  • English 6666: Nineteenth Century Literature - Travel Literature
  • English 6627: Major Authors - Mark Twain
  • English 3353: The West in American Literature
  • English 3308: Business Communications
  • English 3307: Professional and Technical Writing
  • English 1126: Art of Film I
  • English 1102: Critical Reading and Writing


Research Interests

My research interests have evolved as well. I'm working on a book-length manuscript on the development of film noir from literature (primarily American). I continue to present on Mark Twain at various conferences, and have submitted a manuscript on Twain's domestic virtues from a phenomenological perspective. Because of my interest in travel works, and Twain's specifically, I have been working on digital edition theory; I hope to create a digital edition of Twain's Following the Equator at some point. And, also because of my interest in travel works, I've been working on the influence of Italy on American writers, including Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, and others.


Mark Twain's Travel Literature: The Odyssey of a Mind. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Press (2008).

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"William Blake's Jerusalem and the Los Angeles of Film Noir," Philosophy and Literature, 38 (2014), 223-241.

"Venice and the Decline of the West: Henry James, Mark Twain, and the Memorials of the Past," Henry James Today, John Carlos Rowe, editor, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014, 87-111.

"Mark Twain's Travel: Looking for an Identity in Fiction," Chapter Eight of Mark Twain's Travel Literature: The Odyssey of a Mind. Pages 144-162. Twentieth Century Literature Criticism, Gale Cengage Learning, 2012.

"As I Lay Dying and Features of Greek Tragedy," The Explicator, Volume 68, Number 3, July-September 2010.

Book Review: Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters From the North American Review. Second edition. Edited by Michael J. Kiskis. Foreword by Sheila Leary. University of Wisconsin Press, 2010. Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum, appearing on April 29, 2010.

Book Review: Mark Twain on the Move: A Travel Reader. Edited by Alan Gribben and Jeffrey Alan Melton. The University of Alabama Press, 2009. Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum, appearing on February 23, 2009.

Mark Twain and Teeth." Rendezvous: Journal of Arts and Letters, 2002-2003; 37 (2): 6-9.

The New Breed of Graduate Programs: Preparing for the Changing Market." ERIC Document 354 533 (1992).

"Job Interviewing: Process and Practice." The Bulletin of the Association for Business Communication, Volume LV, Number 2, June 1992.

"The Poet's Role in Rhetoric: George Herbert in the Service of the Lord." John Donne Journal: Studies in the Age of Donne. Volume 10.1-2 (1991).

"Changing Needs in a Composition Program." ERIC Document 333 418 (1992).

"Problems and Solutions in Parsing." Calico Journal, September 1987.