Frederic Will

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Frederic Will is a Midwestern American writer. Will has been active in many genres: poetry, fiction, cultural history, philosophy, translation, travel memoir.

Life and career[edit]

Early years[edit]

The American poet/novelist/critic/translator Frederic Will was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1928. His parents, Samuel and Constance, moved the family to the Midwest in 1930; Will's father was for the next 25 years a professor of French at the University of Illinois and at Indiana University. His mother was a bilingual (English/French) housewife. The house in which he was brought up was lined with bookshelves of French literary classics--Montaigne and Rabelais featured, in leather bindings cut for them on the Left Bank. Will was raised on the campus of the University of Illinois, where—except during two years of asthma recovery in Arizona—he remained until going to Phillips Andover for his senior year of high school. His subsequent education was at Harvard (1946), Laval University in Quebec, and at Indiana University (B.A. in Classics, 1949), and Yale University (PhD Comparative Literature, 1954). Laval, with its pre-modern Thomist atmosphere, was the deepest of these forays into learning from others.

Personal life[edit]

Will is married, has six children, and lives both in Mount Vernon, Iowa and in Delta State, Nigeria. He has traveled widely, both in Asia and Africa, and has only two more locations on his must-visit list: Russia and Zaire. Writing and traveling seem to him activities that call on one another, as though the appetite of the world to be named accompanied the writing instrument of the seeing traveler.


Will has taught Comparative Literature, Classics, and Translation Workshops at various Universities in the United States and abroad: Dartmouth (1951–54), Penn State (1955–60), University of Texas (1960–65), University of Iowa (1965–70, 1983–85), University of Wisconsin (1967), University of Massachusetts Amherst (1970–83), University of Colorado (1978), Deep Springs College (2004–06), Instituto de Estudios Criticos (2007). He was Co-Director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (1983-1985). He was Overseer and President of Mellen University (1990–1999). Abroad he has taught at the Universities of Tuebingen, Tunis, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mizoram (India), Chang'sha China (Hunan Normal). He currently teaches for the Humanities University ( or where he is Vice President for Research.


Editorial work[edit]

Founding editor (with William Arrowsmith) of Arion, A Journal of Classical Culture (1962--) University of Texas. Founder and editor of Micromegas, A Journal of Poetry in Translation (1965–75). Arion marked a turning point in Anglo-American classical studies, replacing positivist 'contribution studies' by more imaginative and daring efforts to open the classical tradition into its blazing richness. Micromegas, like Robert Bly's The Sixties, was a single-handed effort to enrich American poetry with the bloodstreams of at first contemporary Latin-American poetry, and then, in subsequent issues, of a wide variety of national issues--French, German, Hungarian, Greek, Icelandic.

Archival material[edit]

Will's literary and editorial papers (1962–) are in the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas.The collection includes hundreds of pages of manuscripts of both published and unpublished materials, in addition to an extensive correspondence dating back to the University of Texas Renaissance, under HRC Director, Harry Ransom.

Criticism and themes[edit]

Review entries on his work[edit]

Contemporary American Thought; Twentieth Century Literary Criticism; Politica Economia Cultura (Santiago de Chile); Contemporary Authors 1; Margins; International Who's Who in Poetry. Essay studies of his work in Frank Shynnagh (pseudonym), "Opus," Iowa Review (1992); Albert Cook, "On Frederic Will," Iowa Review (1992); book length study, Frank Shynnagh (pseudonym), Song Broken, Song: The Work of Frederic Will (Mellen, 2008).


  1. Three Sociologies of Personal Assemblage (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017) Forthcoming
  2. Seventy Moral (and Immoral) Polarities of the Everyday (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2016)
  3. Historia: Profiles of the Historical Impulse (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015).
  4. Platonism for the Iron Age (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014).
  5. A Southern Nigerian Community: Case Study Ughelli (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013).
  6. Being Here: Sociology as Poetry, Self-Construction and our Time (Mellen, 2012).
  7. The Long Poem in the Age of Twitter and The Being Here Site of the Poetic (Mellen, Lewiston, 2011).
  8. Time, Accounts, Surplus Meaning: Settings of the Theophanic (Cambridge Scholars Press, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2011).
  9. Frederic Will’s Short Fiction: Literature as Social Critique (Mellen, Lewiston, 2009). (Under pseudonym: Frank Shynnagh.)
  10. Frederic Will’s Travel Writings (1957–2007): A Design of the World (Mellen, Lewiston, 2008). (Under pseudonym: Frank Shynnagh)
  11. The Concept of the Moment (Mellen, Lewiston, 2008). (Under pseudonym: Frank Shynnagh)
  12. Une petite Tâche brune (Publications universitaires de la côte d’ivoire, Abidjan 2007).
  13. Song Broken, Song: The Work of Frederic Will (Mellen, Lewiston, 2008). (Under pseudonym: Frank Shynnagh)
  14. China: A Modern History (Micromegas Editions, Series Two, #1, 2006).
  15. The Male’s Midlife Rite of Passage: Three Imagined Lives (Mellen, Lewiston, 2006).
  16. Three Essays on Mellen University: early life and times (Mellen, Lewiston, 2004).
  17. English for Success (Hachette, Abidjan 2002).
  18. Flesh and the Color of Love: An African American Marriage (Publications universitaires de la Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan 2002).
  19. Miroirs d’Eternite: une saison au Sahel (Publications universitaires de la Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan 2002).
  20. Field Research in Three North American Agricultural Communities: Products and Profiles from the North American Family (Mellen, Lewiston, 2002).
  21. Social Reflections on Work: Factory and Farm labor in Iowa (Mellen, Lewiston, 2002).
  22. Singing with Whitman’s Thrush: Itineraries of the Aesthetic (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  23. Literature as Sheltering the Human (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  24. Textures, Spaces, Wonders (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  25. Trips of the Psyche (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  26. Recoveries (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  27. Translation Theory and Practice: Reassembling the Tower (Mellen, Lewiston, 1993).
  28. Big Rig Souls (A and M Publishers, Detroit, 1991).
  29. Founding the Lasting (Wayne State, Detroit, 1991)
  30. A Portrait of John (Wayne State, Detroit, 1990).
  31. Entering the Open Hole (L'Epervier, Seattle, 1989).
  32. Thresholds and Testimonies (Wayne State, Detroit, 1988).
  33. Shamans in Turtlenecks (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1984).
  34. The Sliced Dog (L'Epervier, Seattle, 1984).
  35. Our Thousand Year Old Bodies (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1980).
  36. Epics of America (Panache, Amherst, 1977).
  37. Belphagor (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1977).
  38. The Generic Demands of Greek Literature (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1976).
  39. Botulism (Micromegas, Amherst, 1975).
  40. Guatemala (Bellevue, Binghamton, 1973).
  41. The Knife in the Stone (Mouton, The Hague, 1973).
  42. The Fact of Literature (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1973).
  43. The Jargon of Authenticity (Northwestern University, Evanston, 1973).
  44. Brandy in the Snow (New Rivers, New York, 1972).
  45. Herondas (Twayne, New York, 1972).
  46. Archilochus (Twayne, New York, 1969).
  47. Planets (Golden Quill Press, Francestown, 1968; Selection of the Book Club for Poetry; winner, Voertman Poetry Award, Texas Institute of Letters).
  48. From a Year in Greece (University of Texas, Austin, 1967).
  49. The King’s Flute (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1966).
  50. Literature Inside Out (Western Reserve, Cleveland, 1966).
  51. Flumen Historicum (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1965).
  52. Hereditas (University of Texas, Austin, 1965).
  53. Metaphrasis (Verb, Denver, 1964).
  54. The Twelve Words of the Gypsy (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1964).
  55. A Wedge of Words (University of Texas, Austin, 1963; second printing 1964; annual poetry prize, Texas Institute of Letters, 1963).
  56. Mosaic and other poems (Penn State, University Park, 1959).
  57. Intelligible Beauty in Aesthetic Thought (Niemeyer, Tuebingen, 1958).