Terence Martin joined the Department of English at IU in 1954 with a doctorate from Ohio State. Within a decade he had efficiently advanced in rank and gained recognition as a notable teacher. Additionally, he had filled visiting positions at the University of Dijon, the Universities of Mainz and Frankfurt, and the University of California at Berkeley. During the following years he taught summer sessions at Hawaii and Hyderabad and lectured widely at American universities.
From his early research efforts to projects that continued beyond his formal retirement, Professor Martin investigated the cultural implications of beginnings. His first book, The Instructured Vision: Scottish Common Sense Philosophy and the Origins of American Fiction, became a classic study of how Americans wrote fiction in a society deeply suspicious of the imagination. With a wide array of influential essays, an edition of The Scarlet Letter, and a full-length study of Hawthorne's career, he established himself as an indispensable scholar of American literature and culture.
Professor Martin received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Huntington Library. He served on selection committees for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Guggenheim Foundation. As part of his professional work, he served two terms on the editorial board of American Literature and was a member of the board of Nineteenth-Century Literature.
Professor Martin was part of three major projects: The Columbia Literary History of the United States, The Columbia History of the American Novel, and the twenty-volume American National Biography. Meanwhile, his teaching and his scholarship continued. In 1995-96, he was a Visiting Professor at the Free University of Berlin. With Parables of Possibility he explored provocatively the implications of the American fascination with making a fresh start.