Peter Olson

Peter Olson



320-491-7908 Department of English
P.O. Box E
Mississippi State, MS 39762


  • Ph.D in Literary and Cultural Studies (2013)—University of Memphis.
  • Graduate Certificate in African-American Studies (2007)—University of Memphis
  • M.A. in English literature (2006)—University of Memphis.
  • M.A. in music theory (1992)—University of Minnesota.
  • B.M. in bass performance (1987)—University of Minnesota.

Recent Courses



Peter B. Olson teaches as a Lecturer in the Department of English at Mississippi State University. His teaching assignments include English Composition 1 & 2—online (EN 1103/1113-501), Writing for the Workplace—online (EN 3313-501), World Literature before 1600—online (EN 2273-501), Introduction to Literature (EN 2203-501), and other survey courses. He has also taught at Montana State University, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Olson specializes in American studies, the philosophy of literature, rhetoric and composition, literary theory, and musicology. His dissertation is titled American Romanticism and the Politics of Negative Originality: The Dark Passages of Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. He was awarded the Scharff Graduate Award in English at the University of Memphis. (2009). During the spring of 2011 Olson completed CTL 101, the Center for Teaching and Learning's course in distance-learning best practices. He subsequently developed Writing on the Web (4990/6990) as a pilot course, offered through AOCE. Olson has also studied musicology and Southern regional music at the University of Memphis (ABD 2003) after serving as a research assistant to folklorist Charles K. Wolfe at Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of English (2001). Received a grant for Online Instructor Training, UW-La Crosse (January 2109). Received a grant to create and design an online syllabus for ENG 215, African American Authors, UW-La Crosse (2019). Designated Certified Writing Emphasis Instructor, UW-La Crosse (Fall 2018). He has written for the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Crossroads, A Journal of Southern Culture, and the Journal of the Society for American Music. He is currently working on a book on Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Publications and Presentations

  • “Robert Pirsig, Romantic Science and Post-War Culture: A Chautauqua on Axiological and Aesthetic Theory.” Rocky Mountain MLA, Annual Conference. (October 2019, El Paso, TX).
  • “Robert Pirsig—Reading in the Humanities for Writers.” MN Writing & English Conference (April 2019).
  • “Robert Pirsig and Wallace Stegner: Crossing to Safety.” UW-La Crosse English Department Symposium, April 2019
  • “Robert Pirsig, the ‘Wizard of Bozeman’: Lost Borders, Divine Madness, and the Vision.” Western Literature Association Conference, St. Louis, MO. 25 October 2018. Panel Chair, 13F: Transmotion, Transgression: Epistemologies Across Borders
  • “Ecocomposition as Inquiry: Sustaining eco-SoTL in the First-Year Writing Environment.” CCCC Regional Conference, Denver, CO. 21 July 2018
  • “Inquiry and an Ecology of Writing: Opening Space for eco-SoTL and eco-Composition.” UW-La Crosse, Center for Advanced Teaching and Learning (CATL)
  • Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning, Poster Session. 28 August 2018. “Inquiry and an Ecology of Writing: Opening Space for eco-SoTL and eco-Composition,” OPID Spring Conference, Madison WI. 13 April 2018.
  • “Teaching the Literary Pastoral Using Digital and Open Educational Resources.” UW System Spring Conference on Teaching and Learning, La Crosse, WI (April 21, 2017)
  • “Modeling Cross-sector Innovation in the Arts: The Case of Berklee City Music.” Stout Summit. UW-Stout (2016).
  • “Implementing the RSD Framework to Build Discourse Community Knowledge.” UW System Spring Conference on Teaching and Learning, Green Lake, WI (April 14, 2016).
  • “Literature, The Humanities, and Humanity, by T. Steinberg, a review.” SUNY. Minneapolis, MN: Open Textbook Library, 2016.
  • “’To The Public’: Poe’s Stylus and ‘Outraging the Right’.” Conference paper given to the 4th International Poe Conference, 2015.
  • “Web Writing in the University Community: Problem Solving through Collaboration and Convergence.” POMPA: Publications of the Mississippi Philological Association, 31, 2014. Also in Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning, “Open-Review Edition.” Trinity College Center for Teaching & Learning, 2013.
  • “The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating: Melville, Parkman, Emerson and the American West as Singular Form.” Revise and Resubmit, Journal of American Culture. 2014.
  • Participant in the Lewis & Clark College Scholarly Writing Retreat in Portland, Oregon, July, 2013/14. Assistance from the Dept. of English, Mississippi State University.
  • Chair, American Literature 1 Panel, the 35th annual Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, February 19 - 22, 2014 in Albuquerque, NM. Assistance from the Mississippi State University Foundation.
  • “The Creative Class: The Arts, Communities, Collaborations, Convergences.” University of North Alabama, March 14, 2014.
  • Subvention awarded by Trinity College Center for Teaching & Learning in support of an essay chosen for an ebook titled WebWriting: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning (2013).
  • "Edward Albee's Great Society: The Post-War Program to Demystify the American Dream," The University of North Alabama English Department 3rd Annual Regional Graduate Student Conference, The American Dream (2011).
  • His paper "Prairie Home Companion in Nashville: Valentine’s Day 2003" was presented at the National Communication Association conference (Boston 2004).

Faculty & Staff