T. S. McMillin

  • Professor of English


  • BA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1983
  • MA, Syracuse University, 1989
  • PhD, Syracuse University, 1992


T. S. McMillin received a Distinguished Teaching Award from Oberlin College for 2019–20 and was named Thomas J Klutznick Fellow in the Humanities for 2020–21. He is the author of a number of articles on literature and the environmental humanities, most recently “‘Strangers Still More Strange’: The Meaning of Rivers Bedeviled” (2021), “‘Songs to Affect and Balance the World’: Poetry, Place, Home” (2019), “Between the Disciplines & Beyond the Institution: Emerson in Pursuit of Relevance” (2018), and “The End of the Los Angeles River: A Paradox” (2018). His books include Our Preposterous Use of Literature: Emerson & the Nature of Reading (University of Illinois Press, 2000), The Meaning of Rivers: Flow & Reflection in American Literature (American Land & Life Series, University of Iowa Press, 2011), and an open-access digital book on the Los Angeles River, Strange Waters (2022). In 2016, he was a participating member in an initiative of the United Nations titled Harmony with Nature.

Along with teaching first-year seminars and courses in American literature, he has been singer and percussionist for The Original Crank, served as a floating/paddling educator for river trips (on the Green, the Gunnison, the Los Angeles, and the Pacolet), chaired the Department of English, appeared as The Orator in The Odditorium (an OC Circus event), officiated weddings (twice), and performed an original piece with the Josh Ritter Band (once). He was named the Only Flower of Meditation in the Wilderness by a fortune cookie from a local restaurant and has a Run for the Trees medal from the state of Michigan.

Spring 2023

Rivers in American Literature — ENGL 141
Nature and Transcendentalism — ENGL 366


Essay by T.S McMillin Published in the Review of International American Studies

October 18, 2021

An essay by Professor of English T.S McMillin, was recently published in the Review of International American Studies. His contribution, "Strangers Still More Strange": The Meaning of Rivers Bedeviled, is part of a special issue on Rivers of the Americas. A meditation on steamboats, rivers, and Herman Melville's The Confidence-Man, McMillin's article proposes that literature, and especially fiction, can play an important role in sorting out truth, even in a supposedly post-truth world.

T.S. McMillin Publishes Essay

September 18, 2018

Professor of English T. S. McMillin’s essay, “Between the Disciplines and Beyond the Institution: Emerson’s Environmental Relevance” just appeared in the book Approaches to Teaching the Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (eds. Mark C. Long and Sean Ross Meehan), published by The Modern Language Association of America. In their introduction, the editors write, “T. S. McMillin extends the lessons of ‘creative reading’ to the sciences, uncovering in Emerson’s writings on nature a perspective of ‘transdisciplinarity’ that highlights Emerson’s relevance for both English and environmental studies students and also makes Emerson a valuable field guide for instructors working in the environmental humanities.”

T.S. McMillin Publishes Essay

January 26, 2018

T.S. McMillin, professor of English, published an essay based on his ongoing research of the Los Angeles River. “The End of the L.A. River: A Paradox,” appeared in the volume Rivers and Society: Landscapes, Governance, and Livelihoods, edited by Malcolm Cooper, Abhik Chakraborty, and Shamik Chakraborty. The book is part of Routledge’s series on Earthscan Studies in Water Resource Management.