Northwestern English professor to be published

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Northwestern English professor to be published

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Richmond B. Adams, assistant professor of English, wrote an article that will be published this month in the 2.1 (April 2015) edition of the online journal “Ethos: A Digital Review of Arts, Humanities and Public Ethics.” The title of his article is "All Code is Local: Irvin Cobb’s 'The Mob from Massac' and the Edging Shifts in Post-Bellum American Culture.”

In the article Adams discusses Irvin Cobb, a Kentucky writer in the early part of the 20th Century. Cobb based most of his work around the relationship between his principal character of Judge William Pittman Priest and his fellow townspeople of Fairfield, a small hamlet along the Ohio River. While a well-known figure throughout American life in the first three decades of the last century, Cobb has almost been completely forgotten since his death in 1944 for reasons that have to do with a basic misunderstanding of his fiction. Instead of lauding the Lost Cause, a southern American cultural movement after the Civil War that commemorated the Confederacy, as so many other white southern writers did from 1880 through at least 1940, Cobb created a narrative that undercut the Lost Cause's ideological framework while apparently still supporting it.

“I came to Mr. Cobb's fiction quite by accident when I took a graduate class on the films of the American director John Ford eight years ago,” Adams said. “One of the films seen by our class was based upon three of Mr. Cobb's stories, including ‘The Mob from Massac,’ which is subsequently one of Cobb's best examples of how the relationship between literature and history can explore broader cultural issues such as race, gender and class.”

Adams said in preparing this article he discovered that Cobb and Ford were friends for more than 20 years and that they had collaborated on several projects including the 1934 film “Judge Priest” starring Oklahoma's own Will Rogers.

Adams earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and joined Northwestern last fall. For more information about the article, please contact Adams at or (580) 327-8428.