Dennis Clausen

Dennis Clausen
Phone: (619) 260-4112
Office: Founders Hall 168B

Professor, English

  • Ph.D., University of California, Riverside; English and American Literature (1972) 
  • M.A., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; American Studies (1967)
  • B.A., University of Minnesota, Morris; English and American Literature (1965)

Dennis M. Clausen, PhD, has been a member of the University of San Diego faculty since 1972. Clausen has taught undergraduate American literature courses with a special emphasis on authors who write about American small towns.

Scholarly Work

Clausen's novel, The Search for Judd McCarthy, which was first published by Bantam Books in 1982 under a different title, became a best-selling paperback original. Publisher's Weekly (February 12, 1982) described the novel as “an expertly written thriller . . . that beautifully evokes the feeling of a small town dying, its buildings, its streets and, most of all, its lost souls.” His textbook, The Concise Process Handbook, was published by McGraw-Hill Book Company in 1986 and was one of the first textbooks that used humor to teach the principles of English style and grammar.  His creative nonfiction book, Prairie Son, the story of his father’s struggles during the Great Depression to survive in an abusive adoptive home and eventually find his birth mother, was the recipient of the Mid-List Press Creative Nonfiction Award in 1997. Prairie Son was also nominated for The Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards; the Associated Writing Program Award Series; the Minnesota Book Awards; the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and other awards. Prairie Son was also selected by the editorial staff of Minnesota Magazine (July/August 1999) as one of five favorite books written by University of Minnesota faculty and alumni from 1998-1999. Screenwriting and Literature, a book published in 2010, explores the relationships between screenwriting and other forms of creative writing and literature. The Sins of Rachel Sims, a novel inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and a biological grandmother he had never met, was a semifinalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Clausen is also working on Goodbye to Main Street, a book of creative nonfiction that is both a memoir and sequel to Prairie Son. The Accountant’s Apprentice, another novel, was the recipient of a “First Place” designation in The 2017 Chanticleer International Book Awards Competitions. The Accountant’s Apprentice is scheduled to be published by Sunbury Press—Milford House Publishing in 2018.

Areas of Interest

Clausen has taught courses in American literature, screenwriting, creative writing and introductory writing. He has also worked for many years with students who come from disadvantaged academic and/or family backgrounds.