Peter Conn
Vartan Gregorian Professor of English
Fisher-Bennett Hall 313
215-898-5726

Peter Conn is Vartan Gregorian Emeritus Professor of English and Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and is also a member of the graduate groups in the history of art and American civilization, a member of the urban studies and Asian-American studies faculties, and an affiliated member of the Center for East Asian Studies. His publications include The Divided Mind: Ideology and Imagination in America, 1898-1917 (Cambridge University Press, 1983; paperback editions, 1988 and 2008), and Literature in America (Cambridge University Press, 1989), which was a main selection of Associated Book Clubs (UK). Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography (Cambridge, 1996; Paperback 1998), was chosen as a "New York Times Notable Book," was listed among the best 25 books of 1996 by Publishers Weekly and among the best books of the year by Library Journal, was included among the five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle award in biography, and received the Athenaeum Award.

Conn's The American 1930s: A Literary History, was published by Cambridge in 2009. His most recent book, Adoption: a Brief Social and Cultural History, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. He has published editions of Washington Square, by Henry James, Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, and Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. In 2009, The Teaching Company released Conn's video course on "American Best Sellers."

Conn's books and chapters have been translated into eight languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Romanian, and Korean. He has lectured at numerous American universities, and internationally in Ireland, England, Russia, Thailand, Romania, Japan, and China. He has also given talks at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other institutions, on a number of American artists, including Edward Hopper, William Christenberry, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Maxfield Parrish, Charles Sheeler, Wharton Esherick, and The Eight. In addition, he has published essays in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the job market in the humanities, China and American universities, and university and college accreditation. In 2011, under the pseudonym Zachary Peters, Conn edited and published the posthumous non-fiction novel, Who Killed Warren G. Harding? by the late, fictitious journalist, Timothy Wright.

A John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Conn has directed National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seminars for college and high school teachers, and was the recipient of an NEH Humanities Focus grant. He has received several awards for distinguished teaching, including the Ira Abrams award, the Mortarboard Award, and the Lindback Award, the university's senior teaching prize. Conn has served on the selection committee of the PEN Albrend award for non-fiction. He has received the Exemplary Leadership Award of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. From 1987 through 1995, Conn acted as senior consultant on curriculum development to the Philadelphia Superintendent of Schools.

Conn's teaching projects have included College 005: The Great Books; English 401: Teaching American Studies, which places undergraduates as teaching assistants in a Philadelphia high school; English 800, a graduate course that combines the study of literature and composition with teacher training; and, for the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, a course in children's literature. He has served as literary consultant on numerous television projects, including the Emmy-winning series, "The American Short Story," adaptations of novels by James Baldwin and Saul Bellow, and a video biography of John Dos Passos. He served as principal literary advisor to "Oprah's Book Club" for The Good Earth

Since 1993, Conn has served as visiting professor at the University of Nanjing, in the People's Republic of China. He has been appointed a Fulbright Specialist scholar. In 2011, and again in 2013, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, Conn lectured for several weeks in West China on topics in American studies. 

Conn has served as Dean of the College, executive director of the Philadelphia Committee for College Placement, chair of the graduate groups in American Civilization and English, Faculty Master of Robert Hill College House and Community House and deputy and interim provost. He was the founding Faculty Director of Civic House, the university's center for community service, and the co-founder and director of the Urban Education minor program. Currently, he chairs the Major Gifts committee of the Pennsylvania/Delaware chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Peter Conn and his wife Terry have four children, Steven, David, Alison, and Jennifer, and (at last count) eight grandchildren.

last updated 2014/09/09

Publications

Awards

1996 Penn Mortar Board Alumni Association Award For Outstanding Teacher
1989 Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching
1973 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching

News & Events

2013/04/03    ADOPTION: A BRIEF HISTORY

Courses Taught

Spring 2015

English
286.301

Spring 2014

English
486.640

Fall 2011

English
260.301

Fall 2010

English
044.001

Spring 2010

English
104.401
English
401.401

Fall 2009

English
359.301
English
593.301

Fall 2007

English
401.401

Spring 2007

Fall 2006

Fall 2002

English
386.301

Fall 2001

Fall 2000

English
401.401

Fall 1999

English
401.401

Fall 1998

English
401.401

Spring 1998

English
104.401
English
588.640

Fall 1997

English
401.401

Fall 1996

English
401.401

Spring 1996

English
588.301

Fall 1995

English
401.401

Fall 1979

English
094.001

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