Jim Farrell is Professor of History, American Studies, Environmental Studies and American Conversations. As an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher, Jim's teaching has been weird, if not innovative, including courses on Environmental History, the Mall of America, Nuclear Weapons and American Culture, and Walt Disney's America. Despite this record, Jim was chosen as St. Olaf's first Boldt Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, proving that Norwegians have a rich and refined sense of humor. As "John Cummins," Jim performs a one-man Chautauqua show based on the life of a nineteenth-century Minnesota pioneer. As "Dr. America," he is also curator of the magnificent (but wholly imaginary) American Studies Museum, where he gives weekly radio tours on National Public Radio station WCAL. Recently, he chaired St. Olaf's We(e) Committee, which collaboratively wrote St. Olaf 2000: Identity and Mission for the 21st Century.
Jim holds a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola University in Chicago (1971), and both an M.A. in History (1972) and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Illinois (1980). His books include Inventing the American Way of Death 1830-1920 (Temple University Press, 1980), The Nuclear Devil's Dictionary (Usonia Press, 1985), and The Spirit of the Sixties: Making Postwar Radicalism (Routledge, 1997). His essay on "Introducing American Studies" is widely read, and he often serves as a consultant to American Studies programs. He is past president of the Mid-America American Studies Association; his presidential address on "Shopping: The Moral Ecology of Consumption" appeared in American Studies (Fall 1998). Currently, he is working on a book called Malls of America: Shopping for American Culture, which will be published in 2003 by Smithsonian Institution Press.
Born in Washington, DC, Farrell grew up in Danville, Illinois, where he came to appreciate the sublimity of corn fields. He and his wife Barb, who is appropriately a risk manager, reside in Eden Prairie. They have two sons, John and Paul. John is a graduate of St. Olaf. Paul, however, is wisely keeping his distance from his Dad at Augsburg College.