Dr. Keat Murray : CAL U

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Dr. Keat Murray


  • B.S. English Education: Shippensburg University
  • M.A. English: Millersville University
  • Ph.D. Early American and Antebellum Literature: Lehigh University


Dr. Keat Murray specializes in early American and 19th-century American literature, with particular interest in James Fenimore Cooper and Native American studies. His work in literary studies and higher education has been inspired by his fine teachers and his unconquerable wonder about the always-present past. Outside of academia, he is committed to his family, veganism, blues music, and ecocritical perspectives. Otherwise he advocates strongly for Jeff Beck, the Kinks, and the Grateful Dead!

Research Interests and Publications

Professor Murray’s dissertation investigates intersections between social class discourse, Native American studies, writings by John Heckewelder, and novels by James Fenimore Cooper. His doctoral research led him to numerous archives in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he pored over 18th- and 19th-century manuscripts involving Moravian missions, the American Revolution, and Native American populations in the Delaware and Ohio valleys. Into his literature classroom, he brings his enthusiasm for archival texts, Native America, and reading early American writings for their rich diversity and boundless possibilities.   

Professor Murray’s current scholarship focuses primarily on the writings of James Fenimore Cooper.  The 2015 recipient of the James F. Beard Award in Cooper Studies, he frequently publishes and delivers papers on Cooper and is editing a forthcoming scholarly edition of Cooper’s political satire The Monikins (1835) for the AMS Press. As part of this large project, he is establishing a clear text of the novel, composing a historical introduction for the volume, and constructing several layers of paratextual material.  His most recent publication, “Pursuing ‘the Unhappiest Idea Possible’ in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leather-Stocking Tales,” appeared in Early American Literature (Fall 2016). 

His scholarship has been published in Early American Literature, Journal of the Early Republic, Defining a National Literature, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal, Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, The Midwest Quarterly, Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, several encyclopedias, and other publications. 

Additionally, he is very active in literature conferences in his field, and he currently serves as the Executive Secretary and Treasurer of the James Fenimore Cooper Society.  

Undergraduate Research and Applied Teaching Methods

Dr. Murray is committed to undergraduate research at Cal U, and he has directed more than eighty student researchers in digital archives projects with real-world impact.

At California University, Professor Murray has enlisted the interests and talents of many students to complete several archival projects.  Three projects have involved digital repatriation of archival materials to the Haudenosaunee (a.k.a. Six Nations, Iroquois) and the Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic, located in Ohsweken, Ontario.   These projects have fostered ongoing collaborative relationships between Cal U, Six Nations Polytechnic, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at the American Philosophical Society.  The projects have repatriated to the Haudenosaunee thousands of pages of extensive ethnographical, linguistic, and cultural records from the vaults of the American Philosophial Society Library, which the Haudenosaunee have sought for the purpose of revitalizing traditional culture.  The projects involved manuscripts by Charles A. Cooke (6,200+ personal names),  Frederick Wilkerson Waugh (157 traditional narratives), and William Martin Beauchamp (800+ personal names).  The third repatriation project was funded by a PASSHE grant for $8,100, which Dr. Murray obtained to complete the work.

Another dimension of Professor Murray’s research with undergraduates has grown from a collaborative relationship with the Senator John Heinz History Center, through the History Center Affiliates Program (HCAP).  Students in Dr. Murray’s American literature elective courses have worked with historical societies in western Pennsylvania to produce digital transcripts and images of hundreds of nineteenth-century letters and journals housed in regional archives.  The historical societies, in turn, feature the letters and transcripts onsite and online to show a small fraction of the rich resources available to researchers and community members in western Pennsylvania.  The most recent project involved the bilingual journal of a Civil War veteran from Robinson Township.  The project was featured in several regional publications: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Bill Schackner), Cal U Review and Cal U Journal (Wendy Mackall), and Allegheny West Magazine (Jill Bordo).

Many students involved in the digital projects have presented their archival research at local historical societies and at local, regional, and national conferences.

University Service

Professor Murray’s service to the Cal U includes his service on the Advisory Board of the LaDonna Harris Native American Institute, on university-wide committees, and on department committees.  He currently serves on several committees, including the FPD Teaching and Learning Subcommittee, the FPD Research Subcommitte, the General Education Committee, the Faculty Senate, the APSCUF Nomination and Election Committee, the English Education Collaborative, and the planning committee of Cal U’s Strike a Spark Conference on Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity.   He also serves on several English department committees involving literature study, curriculum revision, program assessment, and other aspects of English studies at Cal U.                                                                          

Academic Department(s)

  • Department of English

Academic Program(s)

  • B.A. English

Contact Information



Azorsky Hall 212


“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”

~Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, “Scarlet Begonias”

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