University of New Mexico Emeritus Professor James F. Barbour died on Feb. 27, 2024. Barbour joined the UNM Department of English in 1970 and soon was the core of UNM’s nationally recognized American Literature program from the 1970s through the early 1990s.

Memorial services will be held March 14, at 1 p.m. at French Mortuary located at 10500 Lomas Blvd., N.E.

Barbour is survived by his spouse, Margaret Davidson, his sons William W. Barbour (Marcella Bragio) and Christopher J. (Yorleny), stepdaughter Megan Oliver, grandchildren Amanda, James, Kevin and Gisella Barbour, and countless friends, former students, and readers who have learned from his scholarly work and sports insights. His first wife, Barbara B. Barbour, and his son, Matthew D. Barbour (Amy), preceded him in death.

Barbour earned his BA from North Dakota Concordia Seminary, his MA from Washington University, and his Ph.D. from UCLA. He was a prolific publisher who generously shared his research with colleagues and graduate students. A Herman Melville scholar, Barbour published numerous articles and essays on Melville’s work, including “The Composition of Moby-Dick,” an article praised by Paul C. Wermuth as “a model of sensitive and thoughtful scholarship, American Literature at its best.” This essay received the Norman Foerster Award for the best article published in American Literature.

Barbour’s interests were never limited to Melville. He also published articles and essays on Hemingway, Edward Taylor, Early Afro-American novelists, and Bernard Malamud. He was an accomplished editor who oversaw and contributed essays to books, including The Unfolding of Moby-Dick, Romanticism: Critical Essays in American Literature, Essays on Puritans and Puritanism (with Leon Howard), and Writing the American Classics. With Fred Warner—'Master of the Anecdote'—Barbour edited several collections of A.J. Liebling’s writings, including A Neutral Corner: Boxing Essays by A. J. LieblingLiebling at the New Yorker: Uncollected Essays, and Just Enough Liebling: Classic Work by the Legendary New Yorker Writer.

Barbour’s passion was baseball, and he published articles such as “The Death of the Game in Contemporary Baseball Literature,” “Ball Four with Epilogue,” and “Baseball and Baseball Talk in The Old Man and the Sea.” For decades, Barbour and his son Matt enjoyed spring training in Clearwater, Fla.

Barbour proudly served the UNM’s English Department for many years as Graduate Director. In this position, he mentored countless graduate students through master’s and doctoral degrees. One former graduate student summarized the feelings of so many when she wrote, “he was deeply important, admirable, superbly funny, quirky, and unforgettable to so many people, and especially so to me.” Barbour was a decent, ethical, engaged professor who consistently looked for the best in his publications, teaching, mentorship, and life.           

After retiring, Barbour continued to publish and serve his community. After publishing Liebling at the New Yorker: Uncollected Essays (1994), Barbour co-edited James T. Farrell’s novel Dreaming Baseball (2007), and most recently, UNM Press published Gary Scharnhorst and Barbour’s edition of Liebling’s War: World War II Dispatches of A.J. Liebling (2011). Barbour was active in supporting various Albuquerque charities and sporting events.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to either Good Shepheard Center or Barrett Foundation in Barbour's name. Barbour believed strongly in supporting community, and these groups serve the greater Albuquerque community.