Chatham University

English Faculty and Staff

William Lenz

William Lenz
Pontious Professor of English and Dean for Undergraduate Innovation
Hometown : Haverstraw, NY
Joined Chatham : 1980

Academic Areas of Interest

Nineteenth-century American Literature, American Exploration, American Humor, Travel and Tourism, Popular Culture, Chatham Abroad, Chatham Scholars

Personal Areas of Interest

Travel, pug dogs, snorkeling and scuba


William E. Lenz is Pontious Professor of English at Chatham University and Dean for Undergraduate Innovation. A member of the English Department since 1980, Dr. Lenz has taught writing, critical thinking, and literary analysis at virtually every level of the institution. He had headed and taught in the First Year Seminar Program, offered American literature classes from surveys to upper-level seminars, directed the Chatham Scholars Program, and taught content courses in the graduate MFA program in Creative Writing. He has traveled on Chatham Abroad with students to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Belize and Guatemala, and to Hopital Albert Schweitzer for service-learning in Haiti. Dr. Lenz is the author of three books and numerous papers and articles on American literature and culture.


  • B.A., Amherst College (Amherst, MA), 1973
  • M.A., University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1974
  • Ph.D., University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1980


  • Ruins, Revolution, and Manifest Destiny: John Lloyd Stephens Creates the Maya. Peter Lang Publishing, 2013.
  • "Seeing the Maya in the American Parlor: Illustrations as a Parallel Text in John Lloyd Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America (1841)," Journal of Popular Culture 46 (June 2013).
  • “Some Lessons of Short-Term Study Abroad: Student Writing, Reflection, and Experiential Learning in Central America.” William Lenz and Joseph Wister, International Educator (2008).
  • "Confidence Men," in American History through Literature, 1820-1870, edited by Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006.
  • “Sut Lovingood,” in Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 165, eds. Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker, Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2006.
  • The Poetics of the Antarctic: A Study in Nineteenth Century American Cultural Perceptions. Garland Studies in Nineteenth Century American Literature. New York: Garland, 1995.
  • Fast Talk and Flush Times: The Confidence Man As A Literary Convention. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1985


  • Middle States Accreditation Evaluator


  • Charles and Ida Pontious Distinguished Professor
  • Jane Burger Excellence in Academic Advising Award (2011-2012)
  • NACADA Faculty Advisor of the Year Award Winner (October 2005)
  • Chatham nominee for 2002 Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning
  • Chatham nominee for CASE Professor of the Year (June 2000)



  • Project Director, NEH Focus Grant, "Environmental Issues and the Humanities" (1996)
  • Chatham Buhl Professor, 1997-98, 1993-94
  • Sears Roebuck Foundation1990-91 Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award
  • Chatham Irene Heinz Given Professor, 1985-88


  • "Objects of Desire," paper presented at the nation Popular culture Association convention, Chicago (April 2014)
  • "Beyond Souvenirs: From Memories to Mementos in Central America," paper presented at the Popular Culture Association national convention, Washington, D.C. (March 2013).
  • “Reading Frederick Catherwood’s Views of Ancient Monuments (1844).” Paper presented at the Popular Culture Association national conference, Boston (April 2012).
  • “Stealing from the Maya: John Lloyd Stephens as Explorer or Tomb-Raider?” Paper presented at American Literature Association Symposium, Savannah (September 2011).
  • “Illustrations as a Parallel Text in John Lloyd Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America (1841).” Paper presented at the International Society for Language Studies biennial conference, Oranjestad, Aruba (June 2011).