Bray, Robert C. 1944–

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Bray, Robert C. 1944–


Born October 7, 1944, in Pittsburg, KS; son of Galen (a steamfitter) and Lorena Bray; children: Madeleine T., Christopher L. Education: Pittsburg State University, B.A., 1966; University of Chicago, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1970. Politics: ‘Left-Liberal.’ Religion: ‘Atheist.’ Hobbies and other interests: Book collecting, fine printing, photography.


Home—Bloomington, IL. Office—Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL 61701-2900. E-mail—[email protected].


Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, professor, 1970—. Read Illinois, member, 1983-92, chair, 1988-92; Illinois Humanities Council, member, 1985-92; Illinois Center for the Book, member, 1988-92.


Abraham Lincoln Association, Haitian Studies Association.


Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1966-71; Saddlebag Award, best book on Methodist history, Historical Society of the United Methodist Church, 2006, for Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher.


(Editor, with Paul E. Bushnell) Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 1978.

Rediscoveries: Literature and Place in Illinois, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1982.

A Reader's Guide to Illinois Literature, Office of the Illinois Secretary of State (Springfield, IL), 1985.

(Editor and author of introduction) Francis Grierson, The Valley of Shadows: Sangamon Sketches, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1990.

Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2005.

The Seven Liberal Arts (poetry chapbook), DeSaubray Design, 2006.

(Coauthor) Lincoln's in Town! (play), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.


Robert C. Bray told CA: ‘Teaching my entire professional career at a liberal arts university, I have inevitably moved far from any graduate school specialty I may have brought with me from the University of Chicago. In retrospect, I am very glad of this widening of my literary and critical horizons. Today I write on a number of topics that I knew nothing about ‘way back then,’ including Abraham Lincoln and the Haitian Revolution. And, as I have continued to write what is commonly called literary criticism, I have increasingly become committed to the ‘writerly’ dimension of the craft of nonfiction prose.

"This shows in the biography Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher, in which I have labored to remain true to the canons of scholarship—careful research and analytical rigor—while at the same time carrying the story of this fabulous preacher's life along through what Van Wyck Brooks termed ‘modulations of style and tone.’ I sincerely hope that subsequent books will extend not only my scholarly authority, but my writerly voice.

"Finally, I am a closet poet, almost unpublished, though I deeply admire poetry and am occasionally pleased with the poems I manage to write. As a long-term amateur photographer, I have accumulated a ‘cellar’ of images over the years; some of these I have written verse for (or in accompaniment to), calling the new medium (rather woodenly, I'm afraid) photo-texts. I do dream of one day gathering the best of my photo-texts into a high-quality, limited edition book. But that's as may be. Indeed, my closet status may never change; nonetheless, I am confident that what I do in this precinct is both appreciated by my friends and colleagues and has contributed at least its monitory eye to the composition of my other books."