Robert Root

December 7, 2001

Robert Root
Robert Root has written or edited ten books on a variety of topics including the teaching of writing and the composing of nonfiction. Among his most recent books are Time by Moments Steals Away: The 1848 Journal of Ruth Douglass, The Island Within Us: Isle Royale Artists-in-Residence 1991–1998, The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction, and E. B. White: The Emergence of an Essayist. Recovering Ruth, his latest publication, is a memoir of the travels and entanglements surrounding the search for evidence of the life of Ruth Douglass. It was winner of the 2004 Michigan Notable Book Award and a finalist for the 2006 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the "Special Awards of the Jury" category.

He received his B.A. in English from State University College, Geneseo, New York, in 1966, and taught 11th and 12th grade English classes at Wilson Central School until January, 1970. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa, in 1971 and 1975, respectively. He was a writer for the Westinghouse Learning Corporation in Iowa City while he completed post-doctoral study in rhetoric and composition during 1975-1976. In August 1976 he joined the Department of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University. Over the course of the next twenty-eight years he taught courses in composition and rhetoric, nonfiction, editing, English education, literature, and media.


He also taught occasional seminars in literature focusing on literary nonfiction and major essayists. He was active as an advisor for candidates in the Master's of English in Composition and Communication program. He chaired or served on the thesis committees of master's candidates in creative nonfiction, nonfiction literary criticism, composition theory, English education, and media criticism. As a scholar, he presented frequently at national conferences of the National Council of Teachers of English, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Associated Writing Programs, the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations, and the Rhetoric Society of America, as well as at international conferences in Canada and England and regional conferences of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English. He retired from CMU in 2004 to devote more time to the writing of creative nonfiction and studies of nonfiction.

"Here is essaying at its very best—search and salvage, test and measure—mining the language for what’s precious and rare. In Recovering Ruth, Robert Root works rich intersecting veins of history and humanity, biography and self-discovery, people, places, lives, and times. The reader is the richer for it.”—Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade.

For more information on Robert Root, please visit his website:

To view Special Collections' holdings of Root's work, please click here.

To hear Root read from his own work, please visit the Vincent Voice Library, here.

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Last Updated: March 12, 2010