Paul Collins, Ph.D.

Paul CollinsProfessor

Stratford Hall Room 101 | 503-725-3521 |

Website: The Literary Detective

Twitter: @thelitdetective

B.A. 1989 University of California, Davis 
M.A. 1993 College of William and Mary 
Ph.D., 2016 CUNY Graduate Center

On the PSU faculty since 2006

FIELDS: Creative nonfiction and magazine writing


Paul Collins is an author specializing in science writing, magazine writing, history and memoir; his nine books have appeared in ten languages. In addition to appearing regularly on NPR's Weekend Edition as their “literary detective” on odd and forgotten old books, he edits the Collins Library imprint of McSweeney's Books, and is the recipient of an Oregon Book Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His recent freelance work includes articles for The New York Times, Slate, and New Scientist.


LA Review of Books (2014)
Librarything Interview, July 2013
Full Stop interview, September 2011
California Literary Review interview, July 2009
Identity Theory interview, by Robert Birnbaum, September 2005
Tin House interview, by Paul Durica, Winter 2004
To The Best of Our Knowledge, PRI radio interview with Jim Fleming, March 2003
The Onion interview, by Andy Battaglia, September 2001


Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living (New Harvest, 2014)
Duel With the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery (Crown, 2013)
The Murder of The Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Crown, 2011)
The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World (Bloomsbury, 2009)
The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine (Bloomsbury, 2005)
Not Even Wrong: A Father's Journey Into the Lost History of Autism (Bloomsbury, 2004)
Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books (Bloomsbury, 2003)
Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World (Picador, 2001)
Community Writing: Researching Social Issues Through Composition (Erlbaum, 2001)


Read Harder, ed by Ed Park and Heidi Julavits (2014)
Best American Essays 2012, ed. by David Brooks
The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir (2008)
The Better of McSweeney's, ed. by Dave Eggers (2005)
Bookmark Now, ed. by Kevin Smokler (2004)
The Norton Reader, 11th edition (2003)
The All-Music Guide to Rock, 2nd ed. by Stephen Erlwhine et al. (2002)
The Rough Guide to Rock, 2nd ed. (1999)


Blood & Ivy (W.W. Norton)


The Rector and Rogue, by W.A. Swanberg. McSweeney's Books, 2011
Curious Men, by Frank Buckland. McSweeney's Books, 2008
The Lunatic at Large, by J. Storer Clouston. Intro. by Jonathan Ames. McSweeney's Books, 2007
The Riddle of the Traveling Skull, by Harry Stephen Keeler. McSweeney's Books, 2005
Lady Into Fox, by David Garnett. McSweeney's Books, 2004
To Ruhleben and Back, by Geoffrey Pyke. McSweeney's Books, 2003
English as She is Spoke, by Jose Da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino. McSweeney's Books, 2002


"An Unintentional Scottish MasterpieceNew Yorker, 5 October 2015
"How to Pitch a Magazine (in 1888)New Yorker2 September 2014
"Poe Debut, Hidden in Plain Sight?" New Yorker, 7 October 2013
"The Original War on Christmas.Slate, 13 December 2012
Rhyme and Reason: The Victorian Poet Scientists.” New Scientist, 30 December 2011
The Fickle Needle of Fate.” The Believer, July/August 2011
Murder off Miami.” Tin House, Spring 2011
The Case of the First Mystery Novelist.” New York Times, 9 January 2011
Vanishing Act.” Lapham's Quarterly, Winter 2011


"Miles Jupp and the Plot Device" BBC Radio 4. 31 Dec. 2015
The St. Nicholas LeagueNPR Weekend Edition With Scott Simon. 21 December 2013
Autism and Humanity.” On Being, 14 July 2011 rebroadcast
How a New York Murder Sparked the Tabloid Wars.” NPR Weekend Edition, 25 June 2011
Who Wrote the First Detective Novel?” NPR Weekend Edition, 8 January 2011
Barbara Newhall Follett, Disappearing Child Genius.” NPR Weekend Edition, 18 December 2010
Fingering Shakespeare's First Drafts.” NPR Weekend Edition, Nov. 28, 2009