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W. Jack Hicks
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
JACK HICKS taught in the English Department at the University of California, Davis from 1971 until his retirement in 2016. He co-founded and served as Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program (1992–2001) and later as coordinator of the introductory undergraduate creative writing sequence, serving 450 students annually in 22 sections of writing fiction and poetry. His interests were in the literature of California and the American Pacific, literary and visual texts of place (wild, suburban and urban), the literature of nature/wilderness, the contemporary detective novel, and recent American fiction and creative nonfiction.
Hicks was Founding Director of "The Art of the Wild," a summer program on writing with nature, wilderness and the environment. Convening each July in the Sierra Nevada of California, the program attracted 600+ participants (from 30 U.S. states—including Hawaii and Alaska—and Canada, Guam, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Australia) between 1992 and 2001. It was featured on BBC-Worldwide Radio and TV and the subject of a one-hour PBS-TV video special.
He served as the Director of the Pacific Regional Humanities Center (PRHC) at UC Davis for 2002-2003. He was a member of the workgroup that won a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish the PRHC, serving California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and Pacific Islands, a Pacific Rim center for research and public programming. Hicks directed the Center’s two initial activities: "Digital Divides," in April 2002, a national conference on the impacts of digital technology, and the 15th annual California Studies Conference at UC Davis in April, 2003.He also directed the Nature & Culture Program at UC Davis and remained active on the advisory committee throughout the life of the program.
Jack Hicks received his PhD in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His publications include two critical books on contemporary fiction (Cutting Edges and In the Singer's Temple) and many articles and reviews. He also published dozens of articles on film, television, sports and popular culture, in magazines ranging from Nation to TV Guide.
Hicks was co-editor (with James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Al Young) of The Literature of California (University of California Press, 2000). This comprehensive anthology of California literature from Native American origins to the present was published to national acclaim, featuring on National Public Radio and winning the 2001 Commonwealth Club medal for the best book on California. He also co-edited California Poetry (Heyday Books, 2003) with Dana Gioia and Chryss Yost.
Hicks directed graduate theses and dissertations and undergraduate honors projects on the American West, visions of the American literary Pacific, John Steinbeck, California literary and cultural topics and novels and short story collections. He developed and taught courses on California crises and disasters, Los Angeles in film and prose, and the contemporary detective novel.