Coors Chair


The Holland H. Coors Chair in Education Technology was established by gifts to ARDI from the Coors Foundation and other organizations and individuals to honor Ambassador Holly Coors for her unwavering and unselfish devotion to country and the improvement of life for all people. Her services to the USAFA were many and exemplary. She served on the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy and was a founding board member of ARDI.



Steven Olsen-Smith specializes in early and 19th-century American literature, with an emphasis in digital applications and approaches. He is a tenured professor of English at Boise State University, Idaho, and he held the Holland H. Coors Endowed Visiting Chair at the United States Air Force Academy in 2015/16 before assuming his current appointment. His work combines traditional archival research and analytical bibliography with digital technology. As General Editor of Melville’s Marginalia Online, he is the primary scholar responsible for tracking the recovery of Herman Melville’s personal library, which numbered some 1,000 volumes when it was dispersed following his death in 1891. He directs the work of contributing scholars and students in electronically editing Melville’s markings and notes in surviving volumes for computational analysis of the author’s thought and craft, and of the relationships between his reading and writing.

Olsen-Smith’s work on erased marginalia in Melville’s copy of Thomas Beale’s The Natural History of the Sperm Whale, a major source for Moby-Dick, reveals the author’s drafts of finely crafted poetic allusions and similes he would go on to use in manuscript composition, as well as groundbreaking evidence about Melville’s changing conceptions for the catastrophic conclusion of his masterwork. Olsen-Smith’s published research on Walt Whitman includes an electronic edition (published by the online journal of the poet’s “Live Oak, with Moss” sequence. Whitman apparently wrote the 12 love poems in response to a failed same-sex attachment. But he never published it intact, and it was nearly lost to scholarship. Broken apart and dispersed among other poems in the “Calamus” cluster of the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass, its narrative of love and heartache erased, the sequence was restored to its originally inscribed state by Olsen-Smith through digital enhancement and analysis of different ink mediums and offsets in the surviving manuscript leaves. The restoration illuminates a significant biographical episode in the life of the poet, as well as an important phase in his poetic and philosophical development.

At USAFA, Olsen-Smith teaches courses in literature and composition and in digital approaches to literature. With Dr. Bill Newmiller, Olsen-Smith coordinates an electronic edition of the surviving manuscript for Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, a project he began during his 2015/16 appointment as the Holland H. Coors Endowed Visiting Chair. Through classroom and independent study activities, Newmiller and Olsen-Smith have involved close to a hundred cadets in the production of this ambitious hypertext edition of Crane’s novel. The two are currently team-teaching a course in literature and composition for Computer Science majors at USAFA.

Along with pursuing archival research and digital approaches to the study of American literature, Olsen-Smith enjoys trail running, cross-country skiing, reading for pleasure, and listening to classical music. His wife Sarah Olsen-Smith is a nurse with the Boise School District, and they have two children.


· Ph.D., English, University of Delaware
· M.A., English, University of Delaware
· B.A., English, California State University, Humboldt


Melville and Whitman, early and 19th-Century American literature, digital applications and approaches in literary studies.


· Melville’s Marginalia Online, eds. Steven Olsen-Smith, Peter Norberg, and Dennis C. Marnon (2006-present)
· Melville in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates (University of Iowa Press, 2015)
· (Editor and co-author) “Recovering Melville’s Hand,” Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 17.2 (June 2015), 36-88
· “The Inscription of Walt Whitman’s ‘Live Oak, with Moss’ Sequence: A Restorative Edition,” Scholarly Editing: the Annual of the Association for Scholarly Editing 33 (Winter 2012)
· “Herman Melville’s Copy of Thomas Beale’s The Natural History of the Sperm Whale and the Composition ofMoby-Dick,” Harvard Library Bulletin 21.3 (Fall 2010), 1-77


· Personal website:
· Melville’s Marginalia Online