James Paradis is a historian of communication who focuses on problems of media and the professions. He works on the mutually-influential rise of professionalism and vernacular culture, the public reception of science, and the way in which fields of expertise are represented in public media. These interests converge in his current work on media and global warming. His methods are comparative, and draw on cultural studies, biographical approaches, intellectual history, and the history of rhetoric to study science popularization, science fiction, science education, two-cultures controversies, science as entertainment, and vernacular science.
These interests are highlighted in his various books, articles, and edited collections, including T. H. Huxley: Man's Place in Nature (Nebraska 1978); Victorian Science and Victorian Values (with T. Postlewait, Rutgers 1984); Evolution and Ethics (with G. Williams, Princeton 1989); Textual Dynamics of the Professions (with C. Bazerman, Wisconsin 1991); and Samuel Butler: Victorian against the Grain (Toronto 2007).
His newest course was featured by the MIT School in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences: "In a humanities media class, MIT students gain insights and skills to increase support for effective climate policy".
Paradis is the former Head of Writing and Humanistic Studies and its successor CMS/W; he is the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing and Comparative Media Studies.