Dr. Timothy Bintrim | Saint Francis University
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Dr. Timothy Bintrim

  • Timothy Bintrim

    Position: Professor of English

    Department: Literature & Languages, Francis Worldwide

    Office: Scotus Hall 306

    Email Dr. Timothy Bintrim


    About Dr. Timothy Bintrim


    • B.A. and M.A., Slippery Rock University (1988 and 1990)
    • Ph.D. in American Literature, Duquesne University (2004)


    My scholarship centers on the Pittsburgh life and writings of Willa Cather, a novelist best known for her prairie trilogy set in Nebraska, but who also set several of her best stories, such as “Paul’s Case” (1904) and “Double Birthday” (1929), in Pittsburgh.  

    Whenever possible, I like to involve students in research and conferencing (See highlights of their work under the Student Research tab). 

    I have published a dozen articles on topics such as homicidal wolves, office heists, bicycling ministers, newspaper- and clubwomen, Chinese missionaries, and dandies in Cather’s fiction, all with connections back to Pittsburgh. I have been known to dig for clues around gravestones in cemeteries as well as in regional archives and special collections. 

    Meeting philanthropist Stan Brock (the founder of Remote Area Medical) got me interested in America’s critical need for universal health care, especially dental care.  Each year I accompany SFU’s team of volunteers to a free clinic such as MOM-n-PA, Pennsylvania’s dental mission of mercy.  With Dr. Lane Loya, I co-advise the Environmental Action Society, SFU’s eco-club.

    At Open Houses and via telephone and email, I enjoy meeting potential English and Environmental Studies majors.  I also enjoy speaking to groups about Cather’s decade in Pittsburgh.

    Each semester, I teach several sections of WRIT 102, Research Writing, usually themed Science Writing, and a popular LIT 104 course themed Medicine in Literature.  Though the reading list for the latter varies, we usually read bestsellers by Atul Gawande and Paul Kalanithi, a selection of plays including Margaret Edson’s W;t, poems and essays by nurses such as Cortney Davis, and sample the “new poetry of disability” with a collection titled Beauty is a Verb. Occasionally I teach first year seminars on the politics of food and environmental utopias and dystopias.

    Academic & Professional Specializations

    • Willa Cather's Pittsburgh writings
    • American literature
    • Environmental literature
    • Archival studies

    Teaching Interests

    • Medicine in literature
    • Disability in literature
    • The politics of food
    • Western Pennsylvania women writers
    • Conference Coordination
    • Publications
    • Undergrad Research
    Conference Coordination

    In June 2017, I co-directed the International Willa Cather seminar in Pittsburgh, a week-long gathering of 92 people, including scholars from Taiwan, Canada, Japan, and a dozen states.

    Sixty academic papers, three walking tours around the Pittsburgh neighborhoods Cather frequented, evening performances of organ, orchestral, and operatic music, and a side trip to August Wilson’s birth home filled out the week.   WQED filmmakrer Rich Sebak delivered the keynote and returned to tape our North Side walking tour; that footage became part of his short documentary “People Who’ve Written Books around Here” in the series Nebby:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lKBp1kHn2w, around the 16- minute mark. In my small-screen debut, I’m being interviewed by WQED's Rick Sebak during our North Side walking tour on June 17, 2017.

     Tim QED

    The Seminar was a collaboration between SFU, California University of PA, Penn State Greater Allegheny, Duquesne University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Willa Cather Foundation, and was hosted by Duquesne University. 

    Currently, with Drs. Kimberly Vanderlaan and James Jaap, I am co-editing volume 13 of the series Cather Studies, containing 15 essays on Cather and Pittsburgh, expected from the University of Nebraska Press in 2020.


    • “Cather’s ‘Rosary’ and Nevin’s Legacy in April Twilights (1903).” Willa Cather Newsletter & Review 56.2 (Spring 2013): 28-33. 
    • “Exit Smiling: The Case for Paul’s Dandyism.” Essay in the peer-reviewed book collection, Willa Cather and Aestheticism. Ed. Sarah Cheney Watson and Ann Moseley. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2012. 17-28.
    • Review of Willa Cather: A Writer’s Worlds. Cather Studies 8. Edited by John J. Murphy, Françoise Palleau-Papin, and Robert Thacker. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010. Western American Literature (Spring 2011): 101-102. 
    • “George Gerwig’s Double Tragedy and Willa Cather’s ‘Double Birthday’” (co-written with Kari Ronning) Willa Cather Newsletter & Review 53.3 (Spring 2010): 78-84.
    • “Gathering by Moonlight: Another Prototype for the Russian Wolf Story in My Ántonia.” Teachin Cather [published by Utah State University] Ed. Steven Shively and Virgil Albertini. 10.2 (Spring 2010): 10-17.
    • Contributing researcher and photographer for the Cather Scholarly Edition of Youth and the Bright Medusa, ed. by Mark Madigan. U of Nebraska P, 2009. My contributions are noted on pages 307, 309, 322-330, 366, photographs 17 and 20, 428, 452.
    • "From Larceny to Suicide: The Denny Case and 'Paul's Case.'" (co-written with Mark Madigan). Essay in the peer-reviewed book collection, Violence, the Arts, and Cather (2007) from Fairleigh Dickinson UP, edited by Merrill Skaggs and Joe Urgo. 109-123, illustrated.
    • "Cather as Illustrator." Essay in peer-reviewed book collection, Willa Cather: New Facts, New Glimpses, Revisions. Ed. Merrill Skaggs and John Murphy. Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2008. 65-84 with 12 illustrations.
    • "Cather's Little-Known Friendships: J. R. Henry: The Cumberland Minister.” (co-written with Kari Ronning, research editor of the Cather Scholarly Edition) The Mowers’ Tree (Journal of the Cather Colloquium at U of Nebraska-Lincoln) Fall/Winter 2004): 4-7, 12-14, illustrated.
    • “A Note about Spelling Cather’s Pittsburg.” Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 46.3 (Winter/Spring 2003): 52-53.
    • “A Palm for Stanley: Reinhart’s Grave Restored Through Cather’s Writing.” (co-written with Mark Madigan) Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 45.4 (Fall 2002): 35-38.
    • “The Chinese Connection: Cather and Pittsburgh’s Chinatown” (co-written with Li Zhu.) Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and Review 42.1 (Summer 1998): 1-5. (illus).
    Undergrad Research
    • Wendy Bintrim at the 2018 EAPSU Conference at Shippensburg U of PAIn July and August 2019, three first-year students, Scott Riner, Katie Avery, and Wendy Bintrim, are accompanying me to the Sewickley Valley Historical Society to photograph a scrapbook made by Dorothy Slack in 1905, when Dorothy was thirteen and inspired a character in Cather’s long story “Uncle Valentine” (1925) that memorialized her next-door neighbor, composer Ethelbert Nevin. Famous for “Narcissus” and “The Rosary,” Nevin died at age 38 from a stroke brought on by alcoholism and what we now realize was bipolar disorder.  Our team is also seeking a missing page of a key letter of 1900 from Cather to John C. Slack, Dorothy’s father, which, if found, will be shared with scholars worldwide at the Complete Letters of Willa Cather project hosted by the U of Nebraska, Lincoln.
    • On March 23, 2019, sophomore Occupational Therapy major Liv Juliana presented “Spoken Word Poetry in the Classroom: Using Allen Minor’s “Thoughts” to Discuss Neurodiversity,” a revision of her term paper in my ENGL 104, themed Medicine in Literature, at the Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate English Conference at University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
    • In February 2018, senior Physician Assistant major Hayley Cottle had a revision of her course paper for ENGL 384: Literature and Disabilty, published in the Spring 2019 issue of the peer-reviewed SFU  undergraduate journal, Spectrum.  Hayley’s essay, “Poetry’s Invisible Disability: Hearing Poetry through my Ears,” discussed the experience of Dr. Ellen Smith, a poet and English professor from Pittsburgh, whose invisible disability, cookie bite hearing loss, Hayley shares.
    • On March 17, 2018, five allied health students from my Dis/Ability in Literature class presented papers at the Western PA Undergraduate Literature Conference, “The Body: Health and Disease,” at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Tori Kilcoin, sophomore PA, questioned whether psychiatric medications dampen poets’ creativity.  Hayley Cottle, sophomore PA, analyzed a poem by Pitt English Professor Ellen McGrath Smith, whose invisible disability--“cookie bite” hearing loss—Hayley shares.  Andrea Parrish, sophomore PA, advocated “becoming intimate” with Nancy Mairs’ writings about her husband’s infidelity--and how the Mairs marriage survived that and progressive illness.  Eilis Hagan, junior Psychology, defended Temple Grandin’s essays about autism as literature that is “different, not less.”  (Because Eilis was traveling with lacrosse, her paper was read by non-degree student Wendy Bintrim).  Nicole Neborg, first year Occupational Therapy, compared the brain–computer interface study that Jan Scheuermann discussed at SFU last fall with the neuromodulation research of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, author of When Breath Becomes Air (2016), a literary memoir written as the neurosurgeon was dying from lung cancer. 
    • My middle daughter, Wendy Bintrim, began presenting at academic conferences as a homeschooled, non-degree student taking classes at SFU.  She earned a minor in English literature by taking six courses with Dr. John Woznak. Several of her conference papers grew out of British texts she read in Dr. Woznak’s classes. Wendy will be attending Augsburg University in Minneapolis for Medieval Studies in fall 2019. 
    • April 5-6, 2019, "Some Cruces in 'The Wife's Lament,' a tenth-century elegy in Old English from the Exeter Book.” The Examined Life: An Undergraduate Conference in the Liberal Arts, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA.
    • March 23, 2019, “Chaucer’s Madame Eglantine: Anti-Semitism in Chaucer’s ‘The Prioress’s Tale,’” The Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Literature Conference at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, PA.
    • Nov. 15, 2018, "Slings, Arrows, and Inaction: Succumbing to Fate in Faust and Hamlet." Eighth Annual SFU Student Research Day, Loretto, PA.
    • Oct. 4-6, 2018, “Old English Poetry and Modern Music: Is “Wulf and Eadwacer” an Early Ballad?”EAPSU Fall Conference: Creativity in Times of Crisis, Shippensburg U of PA.
    •  March 24, 2018, “The Synthesis of a Story: John Gardner’s Grendel and World Literature,”The Examined Life: An Undergraduate Conference in the Liberal Arts, Loretto, PA.
    • As a sophomore English major, Rose Klaiber became interested in the life and writings of Cara Reese (1856-1914).  We knew little beyond that Reese was reputed to be the only woman journalist to report from the immediate aftermath of the Johnstown Flood.  Reese sounded courageous, and the more Rose researched her, the more she liked Cara. We co-wrote a student-faculty research grant, and soon Rose was elbow deep in primary materials in archives such as the library of the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

      Rose found that at age 20, in 1876, Reese had begun writing a weekly column for the Commercial Gazette, the first society column in a Pittsburgh paper. Five years later, when she heard of the sudden destruction of Johnstown where her uncle was in the steel business, Cara talked her way onto one of the first trains from Pittsburgh. Alongside her illustrator brother, she sketched the wreckage of the city while it was still burning at the Stone Bridge.  Her sketches appeared on the front page of the Commercial Gazette on 2 June 1889, just two days after the flood; later that same day she spoke to the Pittsburgh Women’s Club about the experience. A comparison with her signature found in women’s club minutes proves that the newspaper illustrations are hers. 

      Over the next year, several conference papers and research papers grew into an electronic archive of Reese’s work. As a senior, Rose applied for and was awarded an Intrepid Research Grant of $750 that allowed her to complete the research, finding Reese’s obituary (her date of death had been misreported) and piecing together a scandal within the Women’s Club of Pittsburgh that nearly caused Reese to be ejected from the club (and did cost her job). Sifting through handwritten club records at the Heinz Regional History Center, Rose found that Cara fought back against her accusers, was backed by other influential woman journalists, and prevailed--causing the club officers to resign instead.

      A digital archive, built with the assistance of  Rose’s fiancé, Dustin James (Computer Science 2014), shared their research outside the university.  On the 125th anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood, Rose was invited to display her research in a curated exhibit on Cara Reese at the Johnstown Flood Museum, where it remained on display through the summer of 2014. 

      After graduation, Rose found congenial work as a reporter for the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper.  Curiosity, willingness to travel, and writing ability were qualities she shared with Cara Reese.  Her website, CaraReese.com, continues to make the life and accomplishments of this inspiring newspaperwoman available to other researchers.