Dee James

Professor & First-Year Writing Program, Literature and Language
209 Karpen Hall, CPO 2130

“Anything you have the imagination to dream up and the energy to carry out, someone at UNC Asheville will let you do.” That truth has made my life at UNC Asheville, even during my undergraduate days here, rich, challenging and sometimes frustrating, but always fascinating and full.

My interest in stories—yours, mine, ours—is at the heart of my teaching. I believe that searching for and giving expression to our stories will help us discover and better understand ourselves and others. As a teacher of writing, I try to help my students give voice to the stories they are a part of as well as the stories they find around them. I believe that searching out those stories and using them to communicate ideas is an effective means for developing analytical skills as much as creative skills. My training and interest in ethnography has underscored the importance of the relationship between academic inquiry and story. In the effort to search out stories and to craft them, my students also refine their skills of observation and communication. My work as a teacher of writing and literature is further shaped by my commitment to the liberal arts, seeking out connections in unexpected places, alert to complexity and contradiction. Likewise my scholarship and service to the department and the university are driven by my goals as a teacher and informed by my understanding of a liberal arts education.

A significant part of my understanding of liberal arts drives my participation in developing and helping sustain an inclusive community. My intellectual interests are mirrored in the work I do here. Besides teaching in the Department of Literature and Language, I am the director of the first-year Writing Program and an instructor in the Africana Studies Program, directed by Dr. Agya Boakye-Boaten.

Want to join us in Ghana this summer? Contact me at if you are interested.


  • B.A., UNC Asheville
  • M.A., Clemson University
  • Ph.D., University of South Carolina

Recent Teaching

  • Language 120: Foundations of Academic Writing
  • A variety of composition courses
  • Humanities 324
  • Arts and Ideas
  • African American Literature courses: drama, poetry, fiction, surveys
  • African American Poetry
  • Major Authors Seminar: Toni Morrison
  • Introduction to the Literature and Art of West Africa(Diversity Intensive)
  • Senior Seminar in Literature (the undergraduate thesis course)
  • MLA Scholarly Inquiry Seminar


  • “Alienation in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple,” Bloom’s Literary Themes Series, Eds. Harold Bloom and Blake Hobby. InfoBase, 2010.
  • “Emancipating Phillis Wheatley,” Blooms Literary Themes: Enslavement and Emancipation.Eds. Harold Bloom and Blake Hobby. InfoBase, 2010.245-253.
  • “James Baldwin,” The Student Encyclopedia of Great American Writers (1945-1970), Facts on File, 2010.
  • “Robert Hayden,” The Student Encyclopedia of Great American Writers (1945-1970), Facts on File, 2010.
  • “Death and Dying in Toni Morrison’s Beloved,” Bloom’s Literary Themes: Eds. Harold Bloom and
  • Blake Hobby. InfoBase, 2010.
  • “Resistance, Rebirth, and Renewal in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God,”
  • Bloom’s Literary Themes Series, Facts on File/Chelsea House, 2009.
  • “Sustaining Writing Programs” Carolinas Writing Program Administrators Conference (CWPA), Wildacres, NC, 2009.
  • “Exploring the Ghanaian Culture.” Led a UNCA sponsored NEH faculty study abroad experience (with Dr. Charles James, Department of Chemistry) including Dr. Eric Gant, (Department of Foreign Languages) Reid Chapman, (Department of Education) and Dr. Ellen Pearson (Department of History). Summer, 2009.
  • “Teaching Toni Morrison’s Love Trilogy: Exploring Race, Class, and Gender.” (Presentation) Midwestern Modern Language Association Conference. Cleveland, OH, 2007.
  • “Assessing Writing Programs: Annotated Bibliography, CWPA Conference Wildacres, NC, 2007.
  • “Learning to Be Heard: Portrait of Teacher Sister Dolorosa, O.S.P.” In Praise of OurTeachers: A Multicultural Tribute to Those Who Inspired Us. ed. Gloria Wade.Gayles, 2003.
  • "Out of the Rough: Women’s Poems of Survival and Celebration," ed. Dorothy PerryThompson; Assistant to the editor Deborah James. Novello Press: Charlotte, NC, 2001.
  • "A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of William Shakespeare’s Othello." Series Editors: W. Geiger Ellis and Arethea S. Reed, 1997.
  • “A Good Catholic Woman: Reflections on Conflict and Continuity In the Nineties.” In "Moving In My Heart: African American Women’s Spirituality." ed. Gloria Wade Gayles,1995.
  • “Talkin’ Bout Willie Mae” short story In Negative Capabilities, 1995.
  • “Deborah James and P.B. Parris Reply to Ann Buhman Renninger,” (w. P. B. Parris) In "Global Voices: Culture and Identity In the Teaching of English." Eds. Carol A. Pope and Joseph A. Milner. Urbana: NCTE, 1994.
  • “Reading Multiculturally” an essay In the Isaac Dickson Multicultural Summer Research Team Project: August, 1992
  • “Teaching In the Center.” (with V. Perdue). Writing Lab Newsletter. June, 1990.