Phil Yannella, a joint appointment in English and American Studies, has published on a number of writers and on American Studies topics. Three of his publications illustrate his interests. His article on the poet Hart Crane's urban mythology was reprinted in the Prentice-Hall Twentieth Century Views volume on the poet. His demography/social mobility study of Concord, Massachusetts, based on census records, and his use of that empirical research as a foundation for understanding Henry David Thoreau's Walden, broke new ground in its area. His The Other Carl Sandburg was based on his discovery of several dozen uncollected pieces of Sandburg's journalism, a whole body of uncollected pseudonymous essays Sandburg published in far left magazines, and records of government surveillance of Sandburg. It provided a fundamentally new view of Sandburg's politics, poetry, and public persona. The book was judged to be the “most impressive scholarly work of the year” on poetry of 1900 to 1940 by American Literary Scholarship: An Annual Review.
In 2010, Wiley-Blackwell published Professor Yannella's American Literature in Context from 1865 to 1929 and his American Literature in Context after 1929. The two books lay out the core contexts of some major writing and illustrate how those contexts shape meaning.
Professor Yannella has taught a full range of American literature courses and a number of American Studies courses focusing on topics such as right and left wing radicalism, immigration, social class representations, and workplace issues and trends. For a few years, he offered local history courses in which undergraduate students did archival and architectural research and produced reports for communities. For several years, he directed the United States Information Agency/Fulbright Program Summer Institute in American Studies. He has lectured and taught in the People's Republic of China, Yugoslavia, Japan, and Israel. He was the recipient of his college's Distinguished Teaching Award and of Temple's Great Teacher Award.
Professor Yannella has served as Director of American Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at Temple's Ambler Campus. He has also served as President of Temple's faculty union. In the larger community, he has worked with unions, has done community organizing, and was for some years a member of the governing body of Lumberton, New Jersey, with duties including the supervision of police and community planning.
Currently, Professor Yannella is working on a study of two dominant American toward work: 1) work avoidance or slacking; and 2) profound and total work engagement. Some elements of the project are based on observations and interviews. Some elements focus on the expression of the attitudes in texts featuring model slackers and texts extolling total work engagement.