Giles Gunn

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Office Location

SSMS (room pending)


Global Theory and Culture

Global Ethics;

Cosmopolitanisms in a World of Global Absolutisms;

Globalizing the Humanities;

American Literary, Cultural, Intellectual, and Religious Studies


Amherst College, B.A.

University of Chicago, M.A. and Ph.D.


Giles Gunn is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Global Studies (Chair, 2005-13) and of English (Chair, 1993-97) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  A graduate of Amherst College (1959), he received his M.A. and Ph.D. 7) from the University of Chicago (1963;1967) and has held appointments principally at three institutions:  the University of Chicago in both the Divinity School and, from 1972, the Department of English (1966-1974); the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in both Religious Studies and American Studies (1974-1985); and the University of California, Santa Barbara in English and, from 1999, in Global Studies (l985 to the present).  He has also held shorter appointments at Eckerd College (1965-66), Stanford University (1973), and the University of Florida (1984-85). In addition, he has held appointments as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion at Carlton College (1977), the William R. Kenan Visiting Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the College of William and Mary (1983-84), Humanities Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1989), and Eric Voegelin Distnguished Visiting Professor of the Human Sciences at Ludwig Maximillian University, Munich (1994-95).  He also served in 2000-01 as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Distinguished Lecturer.  Giles Gunn is the author of 7 books, the editor of 13 volumes, and has written over 200 articles and reviews.   

He has held various fellowships and grants, including a Edward John Noble Leadership Grant (1959-64), an Amherst-Dochisha Fellowship (1960-61), a Kent Fellowship (1963-65), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (1977-78), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1990), a University of California President's Research Fellowship in the Humanities (1990), and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship (2010).  He has been a director of 7 summer seminars for school teachers sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, 3 summer seminars for college and university teachers sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and 2 summer institutes for international professors of American literature sponsored by the United States Information Agency.


Books Authored:

The Pragmatist Turn:  Religion, the Enlightenment, and the Formation of American Literature  (The University of Virginia Press, 2017)

Ideas To Life For:  Toward a Global Ethics (University of Virginia Press, 2015)

Ideas To Die For:  The Cosmopolitan Challenge (Routledge, 2013)

Beyond Solidarity: Pragmatism and Difference in a Globalized World (University of Chicago Press, Spring 2001)

Thinking Across the American Grain: Ideology, Intellect, and the New Pragmatism (University of Chicago Press, 1992)

The Culture of Criticism and the Criticism of Culture (Oxford University Press,1987)

The Interpretation of Otherness: Literature, Religion, and the American Imagination (Oxford University Press, 1979)

F.O. Matthiessen:  The Critical Achievement (The University of Washington Press,1975)





Books Edited:

Global Studies:  A Historical and Contemporary ReaderRev. Ed. (Kendall-Hunt Publishing, 2018)

America and the Misshaping of a New World Order, with Carl Gutierrez-Jones (University of California Press, 2010)

A Historical Guide to Herman Melville (Oxford University Press, 2005)

War Narratives and American Culture, with Carl Gutierrez-Jones (American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, 2005)

Global Studies 1 (Kendall-Hunt Publishing Co., 2003)

Globalizing Literary Studies, Special Issue of PMLA (116/1, January 2001)

William James, Pragmatism and Other Writings (Penguin,2000)

Early American Writing (Penguin, 1994)

Redrawing the Boundaries: The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies, with Stephen Greenblatt (Modern Language Association, 1992)

Church, State, and American Culture (University of North Carolina Press,1984)

The Bible and American Arts and Letters (Fortress, 1983)

New World Metaphysics: Reading on the Religious Meaning of the American Experience (Oxford University Press, 1981)

Henry James, Senior: A Selection of His Writing (American Library Association, 1974)

Literature and Religion (Harper and Row, 1971)


Numerous essays on American and modern literature, critical theory, and American intellectual and cultural history, and global issues, including most recently:

“The Transcivilizational, the Intercivilizational, and the Human: The Quest for the Normative in the Legitimacy Debate,” Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs, ed. by Richard Falk, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Vesselin Popovski (Oxford University Press, 2012)

"Cultural Models and Rethinking Secularism," The Immanent Frame

"Global Ethics," Encyclopedia of Global Studies, ed. Helmut K. Anheier and Mark Juergensmeyer (Sage Publications)

"Global Literature," Encyclopedia of Global Studies, ed. Helmut K. Anheier and Mark Juergensmeyer (Sage Publications)

"Is There a Pragmatist Approach to Literature?," Complutense Journal of English Studies, 2014, (Vol. 22)


  • Theories of Inter- and Cross-Cultural Understanding
  • Global History, Culture, and Ideology
  • Culture and Global Ethics
  • Global Literatures
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Human Rights and Literature
  • Globalizing American Studies
  • Literature and Modern Terror 
  • American Literature and Otherness
  • Herman Melville
  • Early American Writing
  • Democracy and Modern American Literature