David Cantrell

Instructor of Humanities


Joined NCSSM in August 2013

An eighth-generation Carolinian, David Cantrell grew up in Cherokee, attending Qualla Elementary School, then, after his family moved to what was once the countryside between Winston-Salem and High Point, spending the last years of his youth at Ledford High School. He has enjoyed several different lives, though most of his professional career has been spent teaching at several universities, including Stanford, where he received his doctorate in American literature; the University of Nevada, where he was an NEH postdoctoral fellow; and the University of San Diego, where he had appointments in the college and in the School of Law. The opportunity to teach the extraordinarily gifted students at NCSSM proved, however, even more compelling than a very pleasant life in southern California; thus, some 30 years after leaving his home state, David returned, grateful and glad to join the work of the humanities at NCSSM. David holds a bachelor’s degree in English and History from Wake Forest University, a master’s degree in divinity with a concentration in Religion and Anthropology from Harvard, and an MA and PhD in American literature from Stanford University.

David joined NCSSM in August 2013. He teaches American Studies, Westerns and the West, the Research Experience in Humanities, and Research in Humanities. For the last eight years, he has led students to Arizona on Mini-Term and J-Term excursions. In 2019-20, David received the award for Outstanding Teacher at NCSSM. Happy to live in Durham, he nonetheless dreams at night of western skies.