About S. J. Dahlman

 Jim@sign croppedMy given name is Simon J. Dahlman, but people call me Jim. (The nickname involves a long family story, full of mystery and conflicting accounts.) You’ll usually see my byline as S. J. Dahlman.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Personal: Husband to Stacy; father of two grown daughter, one son-in-law, and two stepchildren. (I’ll resist the urge to dad-brag here. But feel free to ask about my kids. Please.) I’m a Christian. I grew up in New York City and Tampa, Fla., and lived in Wigan, England; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Colorado Springs, Colo., until moving to Johnson City, Tenn., in  1999, to teach journalism (see below). I’m also the chief steward for two cats. I’ve been an avid runner (Boston Marathon 2014, among others), hiker (see below) and soccer player (ret.).

Professional: My day job is professor of communications and humanities at Milligan University, where I teach courses in journalism, creative nonfiction, and media law and ethics, advise the student news organizations, and serve as chair of the Performing, Visual, and Communicative Arts Area (Department).

I came to Milligan after editing magazines for more than a dozen years in the 1980s and ’90s. As a freelance journalist, I wrote a weekly column on religion for the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press for seven years and wrote a monthly column for Christian Standard magazine for a dozen. I’ve been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian (UK), Leadership Journal, and the Cincinnati Enquirer. For five years in the mid 1980s, I was the minister of a small church in Wigan, England.

My first book, A Familiar Wilderness: Searching for Home on Daniel Boone’s Road (University of Tennessee Press), was published in March 2019. It tells the story of my solo hike from northeast Tennessee to Fort Boonesborough in central Kentucky, roughly following the path of Boone’s original trail-blazing route in 1775 that opened up the West. It’s part travel story, part history, and part narrative journalism, including profiles and interviews of dozens of people I met along the way. (The head shot is me at the end of that journey, at Fort Boonesborough State Park.)

Education (formal): M.F.A., creative nonfiction, Goucher College, 2014; M.A., English (editing and publishing), University of Cincinnati, 1998; B.A., Milligan College, 1980 (cum laude).

6 thoughts on “About S. J. Dahlman

  1. Professor Dahlman,

    Ran across a story of your hike of the Wilderness Road to Boonesborough in the Lexington Herald-Leader while I was researching the known path of the old road. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky just off Preston Street, which follows the path the road took from Harrodsburg to the Falls. It has been a near-lifelong dream of mine to hike the as much as I can of the road from the Tennessee side of the Gap to Louisville. I look forward to publication of your planned book and hope that someday you may make it up to New England, where I now live, to talk about your trip.


    Eric Alexander

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