Mark Metzler Sawin grew up in Hesston, a small, Mennonite town in rural Kansas. He attended Goshen College (Indiana) and then the University of Texas at Austin where he earned his MA and PhD in American Studies. Before coming to Eastern Mennonite University in 2001, Mark apprenticed as a chef, wrote for a culinary magazine, and managed a coffee shop, experiences that continue to color his teaching which is marked by an interdisciplinary hodgepodge of cultural studies, popular culture, literature and history. At EMU he currently serves as professor of U.S. History and as the director of the Honors program. In the larger academic world, Mark serves as a member of the Regional Chapters Committee of the American Studies Association and chaired that committee from 2011-13. He has also served as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zagreb, Croatia (2008-09) and as the President of the Mid-Atlantic American Studies Association (2006-08). His scholarship focuses largely on the religious, literary, and popular culture of antebellum America (1850s); his book Raising Kane addresses Arctic explorer Elisha Kent Kane who authored two “best-selling” books about his travels while masterfully manipulating the popular media to enhance his celebrity status. Mark is currently launching a new project, editing a collection of stories by the notorious antebellum pop-fiction author and political rabble-rouser, Ned Buntline.
Mark is married to Erika Metzler Sawin, a nursing professor at James Madison University, and has two children, Cora and Isaac.