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James Fairchild

James Fairchild
James Fairchild
  • Professor Emeritus of Literature & Writing

Dr. Jim Fairchild received his BA from Brigham Young University, his MA at the University of Utah, and his PhD from the University of Iowa—all in English. He taught secondary education for two years; in between, he became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and taught TM full-time in the early and mid-seventies. At MIU, following his PhD in English, Jim wrote for the University publication MIU World and eventually became its editor. He taught Professional Writing at MIU for six years and then moved to the English Department, where he taught literature and creative writing for the next 17 years. Jim has published numerous feature stories and articles on Transcendental Meditation and the TM Movement as well as on various other topics. He likes to write short stories, mostly science fiction. After retiring in 2018, Jim earned an MA in Vedic Science and, starting in September, 2020, will begin his PhD in Maharishi Vedic Science. Jim is a professor Emeritus of Literature.

On Teaching

My approach to teaching literature has always been to analyze story structure as a means to unearth the essential meaning of a work. This may even be at odds with what the author intended, but if the class can come up with a meaningful consensus—which is usually on a high level at MIU since the students here practice TM—we can discover universal truths that transcend the subject matter.

Writing fiction is like building a house: If you put the rafters in the wrong place, the roof will collapse; if you ignore the elements of plot, character, and theme, the story will fall apart. However, without creativity (style, originality, intelligence, surprise), mere plot is hardly worth reading. The insightful combination of all these forces—plot, character, theme, and creativity—produces meaningful and memorable fiction . . . and sometimes even art.


“Jim Fairchild created a safe and supportive environment through his courses on personal essay and the craft of short stories. His shared knowledge of Thoreau, Montaigne, and Dillard opened new doors and taught me to explore writing and reading creative non-fiction with curiosity and wonder. I consider the time spent in his classes as some of the most important in my degree program at MIU. I’m thankful to Jim for being such a great professor. I am so lucky to have been in his classes.” —Dylene Cymraes

“During my studies at MIU, I had such a life-changing experience through my Creative Writing & Literature courses that I decided to double major. I learned so much in each of Jim’s classes. Writing & Reading the Short Story taught me to dive deeper into understanding the story that is being told. Writing for Children taught me how to write a children’s book from beginning to end. The Literary Epic: The Ramayana taught me about a culture other than my own. And Native American Literature taught me to understand life from a time period and viewpoint other than my own. Not only did I enjoy the material we were learning, but I enjoyed how I was learning it. Jim is such an understanding person, who really sees the creative value in every student he shares a classroom with. In addition, Jim is a great person whom you can’t help but admire because he’s so funny and light-spirited. One of the most valuable things he does in his classes is that he gives his students the freedom to explore their projects. This is especially wonderful during finals because you don’t have presentation after presentation on one topic; you have each student sharing a piece of what they’ve learned throughout the block, reflected in their tangible final piece and what they’ve learned about themselves during their creative process. This is great because as a student, you get to learn through your classmates. The result is a well-rounded educational experience. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi believed in coming from the heart, and I believe that Jim truly loves what he’s dedicated his life to. I think anyone would benefit from taking a course with Jim.” —Jeanette Depew

“Writing and Photography was one of the funnest classes I’ve taken here at MIU. Jim even said at the start of the course that aside from learning, the class is really just about having fun. Being able to explore my creativity within the structure of that class resulted in some of my best work here at MIU. 10/10 learning experience.” —Josh Habick

“Jim’s teaching forges opportunities for human connection that transfer into his classroom, presenting him as a professional and a teacher, but also as a mentor and a friend. His wit and charm, mixed with his contagious passion for his craft, create an environment where the students know they’re in experienced and loving hands, exciting them for the knowledge in class as well as in life.” —Daniela Hillman

“Jim Fairchild is a shining light in my MIU experience. He was one of my first professors after my introductory course at MIU. It was a critical thinking course if I remember correctly. I say “if I remember” because after one block with him, I made it a point to choose any and every class he taught. Professor Fairchild always challenged me to do my best work, gave me amazing writing tools I use to this day, encouraged me with valuable feedback, and always provided thought-provoking content. My time spent with Jim Fairchild is among my favorite memories in an exceptional literature and creative writing program at MIU.” —Margaret Ventsias

“I graduated in 2018 with a BA in English. During that time, I took over a dozen creative writing and literature courses with Dr. Jim Fairfield. Jim is one of those special teachers whom I will remember forever. Jim helped me strengthen my creative writing skills and taught me tips and tricks for the creative writing process that I still use today. One particularly memorable course was the “Writing for Children” class. We learned the whole process of submitting and publishing a children’s book, and each of us got to craft our own unique and creative picture book. To this day, I still have mine that I plan on giving to my daughter. Jim gave us all honest and constructive feedback to ensure we had a great final story. Another particularly special course was the “short stories” literature course. Initially, I struggled with analyzing literature, however, Jim taught it in such a way that I was able to grasp it. I’m now able to analyze literature in such a way that the reading is so much deeper and more meaningful to me. I especially enjoyed the dark and haunting stories by Poe and the deep story of “The Chrysanthemums.” Upon learning how to analyze literature, I had many “ah-ha!” moments; it was as if I was seeing something for the first time. As a graduate student at another university, I find myself referring back to the knowledge I’ve learned from Jim. My papers are stronger, and I thoroughly enjoy analyzing the deeper meanings behind literature. Jim is a very memorable professor. I’m so grateful that he shared his sacred knowledge with us as students. He made learning fun through sharing stories from his past (those were the best!) and his sense of humor that had us all chuckling. He provided us with the perfect balance of structure and freedom to be creative. He’s truly a master of this field, and students are very lucky to have him as a professor.” —Alexandra Torres