The Society executive committee generally follows this schedule of meetings:
February to bring in any new members;
May to discuss the submissions for the William James Prize;
August to establish WJS panels at Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP);
November to get nominations for new WJS terms.

The William James Society has a dedicated session at the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy conference in March every year. It is customary to have the current President give an address one time during their two-year term at the SAAP meeting. The Secretary often is the chair and organizer of this session.


A second WJS-sponsored panel at SAAP in Boston 2024 was organized by Guy Axtell (Radford University). This panel is a collaboration with William James College (WJC, formerly Massachusetts School of  Professional Psychology) which was “discovered” by WJS treasurer Gary Jaron in 2023.


WJS participation began at the American Literature Association, where William James Society now has a dedicated panel at its annual meeting, which takes place every year in May. The organizer is Thomas W. Howard (Bilkent University).

WJS restarted participation in the American Academy of Religion conferences, which take place in November each year. Tadd Ruetenik (St. Ambrose University) is the current organizer.

Phil Oliver (Middle Tennessee State University) was elected Vice-President and Wang Chengbing (Shanxi University) was elected as at-large member of the Executive Committee in 2023.

The Executive Committee unanimously approved the practice of funding the plane ticket for the WJS President to present their Address at SAAP when the occasion arises. It also approved a similar habit of funding the plane ticket of the winner of the William James Society Young Scholar’s Prize. This year’s winner is Justin Ivory (University of Minnesota). The Committee also approved as an ad hoc expense the international plane ticket for panelist Emma K. Sutton (Queen Mary University, London) at the WJS/WJC session of SAAP 2024.

The Executive Committee allocated funds in 2023 for the creation of the William James Forum, linked to the WJS webpage,


WJS began participating at the American Philosophical Association (Central Division) in March every year was organized by Jacob Goodson (Southwestern College).

In 2022, Shawn Welch (University of Michigan), became the editor of William James Studies and Nikki Ruolo (Western Michigan University) became managing editor a few months later.

In August, 2022, the WJS organized the special panel, “William James and the Value of the Humanities” at the Fourth European Pragmatism conference, with Sami Pihlström as the panel chair.



Congratulations to Justina Torrance for winning the 2020 WJS Young Scholar Prize for her paper, “Perception as a Moral Behavior in the Principles of Psychology and the Varieties of Religious Experience.”


Congratulations to Jake Spinella for winning the 2019 WJS Young Scholar Prize for his paper, “A Century of Misunderstanding? William James’ Emotion Theory.”


Congratulations to Benjamin P. Davis  for winning the 2018 WJS Young Scholar Prize for his paper, “Pragmatic Interruption: Habits, Environments, Ethics.”

Dear all,

It is with great sadness that I write to you all  to report the death of our society’s first President, John J. McDermott.

McDermott was Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Texas A&M University, and one of the founding members of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy.  While his contributions to the study of American Philosophy in general are too numerous to mention, I will just briefly reflect here on his contributions to the study of William James.

Countless students, including myself, first became acquainted with James’s work through McDermott’s massive edited collection, The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition.  It’s now been in print for an unprecedented 50 years, and it remains the standard text for the teaching of James to this day.

This invaluable contribution to pedagogy would be enough to warrant the gratitude of everyone in this society, but those of us who went on to study James at the graduate and professional levels all owe McDermott a tremendous further debt for his role as one of the driving forces behind both the 19-volume critical edition of James’s works from Harvard University Press and the 12-volume critical edition of James’s letters from the University of Virginia Press.

Between these, and his numerous articles and mesmerizing lectures on James and American Philosophy, McDermott helped bring the study of James back into the philosophical mainstream, and it was no surprise when he was awarded the society’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award (2016).

He will be sorely missed.

Henry Jackman

President, WJS


Congratulations to Kyle Bromhall  for winning the 2017 WJS Young Scholar Prize for his paper,  “Embodied Akrasia: James on Motivation and Weakness of Will.”


 In recognition of Professor John J. McDermott’s many contributions to advancing the understanding and appreciation of the thought of William James, The William James Society gratefully bestows upon him its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.


Davidson Films recently released William James: The Psychology of Possibility in which John J. McDermott appears and narrates. The film was mostly shot on location during the 2010 William James Society Symposium held in Chocorua, NH. The film can be purchased in DVD format for $250.

Writer J.C. Hallman has begun a blog on the correspondence between William and Henry. His blog will chart the two James brothers’ relationship with snippets from their more than eight-hundred letters. Hallman is the author of The devil is a gentleman: Exploring America’s religious fringe.


The William James Center at TU Dortmund University in Germany opened on June 28, 2010. For more information visit the Center’s website or contact Logi Gunnarsson.

IN MEMORIAM: Sergio Franzese (1963-2010). Our friend and colleague Sergio Franzese, Assistant Professor of the University of Lecce, died from cancer on May 26th.

Sergio was one of the most active William James scholars in Europe. He obtained a PhD in philosophy from the University of Pisa and one from Vanderbilt University. His work covered pragmatism, the philosophy of Nietzsche as well as a variety of other fields.

His two most recent books bear the titles Darwinismo e Pragmatismo and The Ethics of Energy: William James’ Moral Philosophy in Focus. Other works can be found on his personal website.

We will remember Sergio not only from his writings, but also as a person. He had a keen mind, warm heart, and energetic spirit. He will be greatly missed.

William James Conference in Portugal, November 2010. The University of Coimbra, with the support of the “Science and Technology Foundation” and of the Philosophy Department of the University, is sponsoring a conference on William James in November 2010. The organizers seek collaboration with members of the William James Society, and they plan presentations on pragmatic philosophy, history of pragmatism, logic, semiotics, consciousness and the stream of consciousness, the mind-body problem, and philosophy of psychology.

Please contact the conference organizer, Edmundo Balsemão Pires, Professor and Coordinator of the research group on “Individuation of Modern Society” of the R&D Team in the “Science and Technology Foundation,” and member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.


CALL FOR PAPERS: “In the Footsteps of William James: A Symposium to Honor – and Make Use of – James’s Ideas.” The William James Society is currently considering papers for presentation at a 4-day symposium to honor the life of William James on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death. The event will be sponsored by the Society, in cooperation with the Chocorua Community Association and Harvard University’s Houghton Library, from August 13 to 16, 2010. More >>


IN MEMORIAM: Peter H. Hare (1935-2008). Peter Hare died on Wednesday, January 3, 2008. At the time of his death he was SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at SUNY at Buffalo, where he had taught from 1962 to 2001. Peter was a long-time editor of the journal Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society. He served as president of several philosophical organizations, including the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, which gave him its highest honour, the Herbert W. Schneider Award. A memorial session devoted to Peter’s contributions to the study of American philosophy will be held at the March SAAP meeting at Michigan State University.

CALL FOR PAPERS: William James Studies is currently considering articles for issue three; the deadline for submissions is March 15, 2008. William James Studies is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing high quality, scholarly articles related to the life, work and influence of William James. The journal is sponsored by the William James Society and published online by the University of Illinois Press. Contacts: Linda Simon (General Editor) and Mark Moller (Managing Editor).


CALL FOR PAPERS for the Third Annual Atlantic Coast Pragmatist Meeting, April 5-6, 2008, University of North Carolina (Asheville). Discussion topic will be William James, “What Pragmatism Means” in Pragmatism.

The Harvard University conference “William James and Josiah Royce a Century Later: Pragmatism and Idealism in Dialogue”, hosted May 25-27, 2007, can be viewed via RealPlayer webstreaming at the conference web site.

James Medd has been officially appointed as the Society’s Research Specialist. In addition to developing and maintaining the Society’s web site, James created and maintains The William James Cybrary.

SECOND CALL FOR PAPERS: 2007 Charles S. Peirce Society Essay Contest. Awards include a $500 cash prize, presentation at the Society’s annual meeting, and possible publication in the Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society.

The bibliography has moved to its own site — The William James Cybrary — which also includes indexed quotations from James’s works and letters as well as links to electronic, full-text versions of many of James’s published essays and books.

CALL FOR PAPERS: William James Studies is currently considering articles for its second issue. This issue will celebrate the centennial of the publication of James’s Pragmatism, and submissions focusing on this text and its influence are especially welcome. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2007. William James Studies is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing high quality, scholarly articles related to the life, work and influence of William James. The journal is sponsored by the William James Society and published online by the University of Illinois Press. Contacts: Linda Simon (General Editor) and Mark Moller (Managing Editor).

IN MEMORIAM: Edward Harry Madden.

On December 28th Rochester, New York, marked the 100th anniversary of William James’ presidential address to the American Philosophical Association, “The Energies of Men”, with a full day of events. Seminars on James’ address and on his proposal for a non-violent army that would fight the moral equivalent of war were held at St. Paul’s New Parish Library, followed by a reader’s theater presentation of an original play by Tim Madigan, and a discussion of Madigan’s interpretation of James’ alleged refutation of William K. Clifford’s ethics of belief. During the lunch break, participants looked for squirrels and argued about who had gone around whom. The late afternoon program included a session on nitrous oxide at the University of Rochester Medical School, which got a lot of laughs by reviewing James’ accounts of his experiences with the gas. The evening events included talks by Tim Madigan and David White at the Baobab Cultural Center, and ended with a séance at which the spirit of William James made a brief appearance and expressed his personal gratitude for the spirit in which Rochester James Day had been conducted. The Jamesian presence suggested that next year we reserve a block of rooms all off the same corridor in a downtown hotel and adhere even more closely to the inspiration of Giovanni Papini.


Rochester, NY will mark the 100th anniversary of William James’ presidential address to the American Philosophical Association with a full day of events, free and open to the public.

An interview with Robert D. Richardson about his book William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism will be published in early December on The interview was conducted by writer J.C. Hallman, author of the Jamesian influenced book The Devil is a Gentleman: Exploring America’s Religious Fringe.

The New York Times review of Deborah Blum’s new book Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death is available online.

Brazil through the Eyes of William James, Diaries, Letters and Drawings, 1865-1866 (ISBN 0674021339), by Maria Helena Machado (University of Sao Paulo), is scheduled to be published in August 2006 by Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press. The book is a critical and bilingual (English-Portuguese) edition of William James’s diaries, letters, and drawings from the several months he served as a volunteer on Louis Agassiz’s research expedition to Brazil.

Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin, has written a book on William James’s involvement in psychical research. The book is titled Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death (ISBN 1594200904) and will be published by Penguin Press in August 2006.

A new intellectual biography of William James is scheduled for publication in November 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. The book is written by prize-winning biographer Robert D. Richardson and titled William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism (ISBN 0618433252).

The first issue of William James Studies has been published online by the University of Illinois Press. Featured are essays by Randy Friedman, Amy Kittelstrom, Joel Krueger, and Ruth Anna Putnam. Also included are two addresses delivered at annual meetings of the American Philosophical Association by past presidents of the Society.