One professor’s journey – and a new book

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George Orwell, author of such classics as “Animal Farm” and “1984,” got the urge to write as a child.

“From a very early age, perhaps the age of 5 or 6, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer,” he once wrote.

Dr. James Wilson didn’t discover his love for writing until high school when he took a creative writing class.

“Most people find their love for writing from a young age, and know that is exactly what they want to be, but that was that was untrue for me,” said Wilson, chair of the English Department at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

His office is on the third floor of Kenan Hall. It has a character of its own, revealing something about Wilson.

Bookshelves line the walls. They hold works from Wilson’s favorite authors.

Vintage Fuji cameras sit on a shelf behind his desk. Pictures of book covers, awards and photos he has taken hang from the walls.

“The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman” by James Wilson and Constantine Santas

His most recent book, “The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman,” sits on his desk. Wilson wrote the book with Constantine Santas, who chaired the English Department from 1971 to 2002 before retiring as professor emeritus.

The book was published on Sept. 15 and is available on Amazon.

The book description states:

In The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman, Constantine Santas and James Wilson look at the most notable performances of the award-winning actress’s career. From her early work in Swedish films to her final role in the mini-series A Woman called Golda, this book analyzes the entirety of Bergman’s on-screen career, paying special attention to those aspects of her acting that made her stand out most—her undeniable range of emotion, her stunning vulnerability, and her indisputable beauty. Among the films discussed in this volume are Casablanca, Gaslight, Spellbound, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Notorious, Indiscreet, and Murder on the Orient Express.

Wilson, an associate professor at the college, said writing the book was a journey.

“My most recent book – I didn’t know where to go with it,” he said. “I want to plateau in my interest and I want to grow it from there. If you go into things thinking you know exactly where you want to go, you are wrong.”

Photo: Amazon

In 2014, Wilson, Santas and two other professors published another book about film, “The Encyclopedia of Epic Films.” It took two years to produce and is 712 pages long.

Wilson said he never imagined that he would develop such a passion for writing about film.

After high school graduation, Wilson went on to earn three degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Ph.D.

“I was enjoying education too much, and once I went back to school I couldn’t stop,” he said.

Wilson and his wife, Tamara Wilson, earned their doctorates at The University of Louisiana. Soon after graduation, they both got jobs teaching at Flagler College. Wilson is approaching his 16th year at the college, and his wife, Tamara is nearing her 18th.

Wilson has many projects underway.

He was planning to travel to Hong Kong for a conference, where he was going to present a piece about the movie, “No Country for Old Men.”

He’s also working on his first novel “Giving It All Away.”

Asked what inspires him, he replied that he’s simply trying “to answer the questions that some people do not understand.”

Wilson said that while he enjoys teaching classes in writing and film literature, he also loves the outdoors.

Devils Tower National Monument. Photo: USDA Forest Service

He and his wife bought land near the Black Hills National Forest, straddling North Dakota and Wyoming, and built a cabin that is 36 miles from the nearest town.

“My wife will read her books, and I will do some writing, and it will be a good place to reset for the summer,” Wilson said.

He said he and his wife move into their cabin when they retire.

“As long as the Netflix works while we are out there, I’ll be OK,” he said.

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