Alan C. Elms
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Alan C. Elms Home Page   Orientation

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Welcome to my home page. This is my personal website, as distinguished from my official university website, which is now available at this address: 

Here at, you'll find a wide range of content. In the Virtual Library section, you'll  be able to read or download portions of two of my previously published books, plus assorted articles and papers that are not readily available elsewhere. The books are long out of print, and the original publishers have turned the copyrights over to me. Some chapters in these books and papers are of historical interest at best. But I think other chapters contain ideas and observations that are still worth reading; otherwise I wouldn't put them here. For instance, I've posted the chapter dealing with obedience to authority, Acts of Submission, from my 1972 book Social Psychology and Social Relevance. This material, based on my work with Stanley Milgram, is unfortunately quite relevant to current news about torture and prisoner abuse in Iraq and  Guantanamo, and to news about other kinds of obedience to destructive authority in various parts of the world.  Also included are parts of a family cookbook that I put together several years ago, with recipes that are still worth cooking, and an assortment of my poems (mostly sonnets) that I hope are still worth savoring.

The Publications in Print section lists, describes, and/or summarizes my more recently published work--material that the publishers won't let me put into the Virtual Library yet. Here I'm especially interested in promoting my magnum opus Uncovering Lives, which includes a lot of material related to other parts of this website. (I have received permission to put a sample chapter in this section.)  Oxford University Press is currently keeping the paperback edition of Uncovering Lives in print as a print-on-demand book; many years will pass before they let me put the whole book online. So buy it while you can (either new from OUP or as a considerably cheaper used copy)--or at least ask your local librarians to put it on their shelves.

Psychobiography has its own section here because that's what I do professionally: I study the lives of famous and/or unusually creative individuals, from a psychological perspective. Sometimes I also teach psychobiography (though I'm now retired from teaching regularly scheduled courses), and at times I help other people practice it. If you'd like to see more about psychobiography, try an excellent web page maintained by one of my former graduate students, Dr. Todd Schultz: Also try the  Handbook of Psychobiography that he edited (Oxford University Press, 2005); it includes several chapters by me.

The Personality Theory section is there because I use personality theories a lot in my psychobiographical research, and I've taught them to undergraduate and graduate students for many years. I've also done a good deal of research on how the major personality theories (by Freud, Jung, Erikson, Allport, Maslow, Murray, etc.) evolved out of the lives and personalities of the theorists themselves. I rarely try to develop personality theories of my own, but I do have plenty of opinions about the ones developed by other people.

Likewise for the Science Fiction section of this website: I don't usually write science fiction (though I've tried), but I know quite a bit about it. I've been reading it for over fifty years, I've done biographical research on a number of science fiction writers, and some of my best friends are science fiction writers. The SF writer who most fascinates me is Cordwainer Smith (real name: Paul M. A. Linebarger). I'm close to completing a book-length biography of him; until then, one subsection of this website section serves as  an Unofficial Cordwainer Smith Biography Home Page. (His daughter, Rosana Hart, maintains an excellent Official Cordwainer Smith Home Page, at Other science fiction and fantasy writers interest me too -- especially James Tiptree, Jr. (real name: Alice Bradley Sheldon)  and Karen Joy Fowler -- , so I'll include information on them when the Science Fiction section is fully up.

Finally comes the Personal Information section. Right now it consists mostly of the official Curriculum Vitae that all academics are expected to keep complete and up-to-date. But I'll try to get more personal here as this website continues to develop . . . as if the rest of the material on the site didn't already tell you quite enough.  My  official university website, the one  located at,  lists all my professional publications by year, starting with the most recent ones first. Some of the publication titles have a little "Request" button beside them; if you click on that button for any publication you'd like to read, my research lab will email you a pdf reprint of that publication.

If you want to reach me directly, the  e-mail address behind "Contact Dr. Elms" on my home page is If I don't answer you within a few days, try again -- sometimes I get distracted by other matters and my web correspondence gets left far behind. Sorry about that! (You might also try my alternate email address,, which I maintain mainly for use when I am traveling. Usually I check it less frequently than my ucdavis address.)

-- Alan Elms, December 28, 2008

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