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Robin Gray Nicks

Robin Gray Nicks

Robin Gray Nicks

Distinguished Lecturer

1108A McClung Tower


Dr. Nicks specializes in antebellum American literature, with a particular interest in the ways fairy tales influenced sensation fiction, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Recent scholarly projects use psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypes to explore the ways that 20th and 21st century novels, TV shows, and movies have appropriated and reinvented fairy tales and to what ends. Co-chair of the Fairy Tales Area of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, she also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Culture.

Dr. Nicks has taught the following courses:

  • Women in American Literature (English 332): traces the development of literature by women in America from Anne Bradstreet through more recent authors like Louise Erdrich. Our focus is the manner in which texts express developing views on gender roles, as well as the different approaches that each writer has in offering criticisms of her culture.
  • Twisted Fairy Tales (English 254): focuses on the original literary versions of fairy tales and 19th, 20th, 21st century revisions. Many of the revisions, and the tales themselves, would be colloquially called “twisted” since they veer from the Disney sanctioned versions with which most of us are familiar. Texts may include the Grimms, Perrault, Basile, Poe, Southworth, Carter, Willingham (Fables graphic novels), de Lint, Gaiman, Pan’s Labrynth, Hanna, recent TV adaptations, and others.
  • Public Writing (English 255):  focuses on rhetorical strategies for effective communication about public issues. Students learn to write for multiple audiences and may be asked to participate in collaborative writing projects with business, academic, or political organizations.
  • Inquiry into Folk Knowledge and Wisdom (English 102): examines common folk tales and discuss types of tales, ranging from fairy tales to urban legends; we also discuss a range of folk knowledge, passed through the generations. We conduct qualitative research, interviewing/surveying others about their own folk knowledge and observing the incorporation of folkways into museums. Our archival research involves visits to archives to investigate relics of other times. Students also conduct traditional, academic research into the evolution and importance of folk tales within a particular culture and region.
  • Introduction to Fiction (English 253): Examines fiction from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, with an emphasis on the novel, and teaches the critical tools necessary for judging varieties of fiction.American Literature through 1865 (English 231):  teaches students how to analyze and appreciate literary texts, write critical arguments about literary texts, and employ literary devices in their own writing. Focusing on the Colonial era to the Civil War, this course provides opportunities to work with a variety of literary genres, as we explore the cultural contexts in which each work was produced by examining the sociopolitical climate and the culture of the time

Research Interests: Antebellum American Literature, Women’s Studies, Fairy Tales, Speculative Fiction


  • Ph.D., University of Florida
  • M.A., University of Kentucky
  • Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, University of Kentucky
  • B.A., University of Kentucky

Professional Service

  • FYS Discussion Leader
  • FYS 101 Instructor
  • Lecturer Representative to Planning Committee
  • Lecturer Representative to Lecturers’ Committee
  • Lecturer Voting Representative

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • Participant in the UT Summer Teaching Institute, 2012
  • Finalist, Composition Teaching Award, University of Tennessee, 2012
  • Finalist, Composition Teaching Award, University of Tennessee, 2009
  • John C. Hodges Better English Course Reduction Award