One of Gillespie’s research interests is in public sector American Studies. As a researcher, he likes to take a monumental work of civil engineering and analyze it for its cultural implications. This technique was used in Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike, co-authored with Michael Aaron Rockland in 1989. Through a series of well-told, compelling, sometimes frightening, and often humorous anecdotes, the authors convey the flavor of a massive, modern turnpike.
Gillespie’s most recent book is Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center, first published in late 1999. In that book, Gillespie argued that the Twin Towers were more than just office buildings. They were symbols of America, just as the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben represent their countries. Completed in 1976, these edifices were the tallest man-made structures in New York City. After the events of September 11, 2001, that book became a New York Times bestseller. Largely as a result of the tremendous public interest in the Twin Towers, Gillespie has been featured on such television networks as ABC, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNN-International, C-SPAN, NBC, MSNBC, TNN, the History Channel, and the Travel Channel.
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999. (In the fall of 2001, this book was on hardback nonfiction bestseller lists for Amazon.com, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly.)
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. Waterville, Maine, 2002. Large print edition.
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. Swidnica Slaska, Poland: Global Profit, 2002. Polish Translation.
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. Tokyo, Japan: KK Bestsellers Company, Ltd., 2002. Japanese Translation.
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. New York: New American Library, 2002. Paperback edition. Revised and updated with a new chapter and photographs.
Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. With Michael Rockland. (Listed as one of the top ten nonfiction ever written about the Garden State by New Jersey Monthly magazine in April 2002.)
Folklorist of the Coal Fields: The Life and Work of George Korson. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980.
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Rooted in American Soil: Foodlore of Popular Fruits and Vegetables. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999. With David Wilson.
American Wildlife in Symbol and Story. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987. With Jay Mechling.
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Contributor to the Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Edited by Jill Oxendine). Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. Forthcoming.
Contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Studies (Edited by Miles Orvell). Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Press. Forthcoming.
Contributor to the Encyclopedia Americana (Edited by Scott C. Monje). Danbury, Connecticut: Scholastic Library Publishing. Forthcoming.
Contributor to the Encyclopedia of New Jersey (Edited by Marc Mappen and Maxine Lurie.) New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004.
“Cranberries” in Rooted in American Soil (Edited by Gillespie and Wilson). Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.
Contributor to American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. (Edited by Jan Harold Brunvand). New York: Garland Publishing, 1996.
Contributor to Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. (Edited by Charles Reagan Wilson & William Ferris). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
“Folk Festivals and Festival Folk” in Time out of Time. (Edited by Alessandro Falassi). Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1987.
“Foodways in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey,” in Foodways in the United States (Edited by Linda Brown and Kay Mussell). Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.
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I have been a frequent contributor to various newsletters; I have written numerous book, film, and record reviews; I have written op-ed essays for newspapers; and I have written articles for general interest magazines.
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Central and Northern New Jersey, interviews with Norwegian-American tradition bearers, including musicians, craftspeople, and animal breeders, 2004.
Northern New Jersey and New York City, interviews with Port Authority staff of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, 2004.
Kristiansand and southern Norway, Study of Norwegian folk hero, Terje Vigen, 2003.
Lower Manhattan, New York City, Study of tenants of World Trade Center, 1993-1999.
Port-au-Prince, Cap Hatien, and Jacmel, survey of Haitian folklore for 1991 New Jersey Folk Festival, summer 1990.
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“Three Ways of Viewing America: Elite, Popular, and Folk Cultures,” University of the Philippines, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, Diliman, Quezon City, January 1998.
“The Poetry of James Dickey,” English Department, Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines, May 1986.
“Trends in the Study of American Folk Art,” United States Information Service Center, Cebu City, Philippines, May 1986.
“The Lifestyle of the American Cowboy,” Keynote Speech, American Studies Association of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, January 1986.
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“American Studies: Current Directions in the Study of Regionalism in the U.S.A.,” University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, October, 1997.
“Principles of Effective Leadership,” Partners of the Americas, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 1993.
“The Legend of the Jersey Devil,” College Catts Pressoir, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 1993.
“Le Festival de Folklore de New Jersey,” United States Embassy, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 1990.
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“Twin Towers and Homeland Security,” Department of State, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark, April 2003.
“The Argument for the War in Iraq,” FN-sambandets Agder/Telemarksavdeling, Dommesmoen kurssenter, Agder University College, Grimstad, Norway, April 2003.
“The Truth behind the Attack on the Twin Towers,” Dragvoll Campus, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, April 2003.
“Attack on the Twin Towers and Implications for Anti-Terrorism,” Department of State, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Embassy, Oslo, Norway, March 2003.
“Recent American Foreign Policy,” Krigsskolen Linderud (Norwegian Army Academy), Oslo, Norway, March 2003.
“The Life and Death of the World Trade Center 1973-2001” Plenary Lecture, York University, York, England, February 2003.
“Remembering the World Trade Center,” Plenary Lecture, Agder University College, Kristiansand, Norway, September 2002.
“The World Trade Center of New York City: Construction and Symbolism,” American Studies Association of Norway, Fredrikstad, Norway, September 2002.
“How to Use Fieldwork in the Curriculum,” National Seminar on Didactics, Agder University College, Dommesmoen, Grimstad, Norway, September 2002.
“What’s American about America?” Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, June 1999.
“Three Ways to Study America,” Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, June 1999.
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"Foodways in the Pines," 15th Annual Pinelands Short Course, The New Jersey Pinelands Commission, Pemberton, New Jersey, March 2004.
“The Case for the Scholastic Aptitude Test,” Middle Atlantic American Studies Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2002.
“Challenges of the Millennium,” Annual Meeting, New Jersey Associated Press Managing Editors, Jamesburg, NJ, May 1999.
“From Stories to Workbooks: Maintenance of Tradition by Sailors in the United States Navy,” American Folklore Society, Portland, Oregon, October 1998.
“Roundtable on American Studies Pedagogy: Strategies and Practices: New York Metro American Studies Association,” New York University, February 1998
“History, Rumor, and Legend: The Philadelphia Experiment,” American Folklore Society, Austin, Texas, October 1997.
“The World Trade Center: An American Icon,” American Culture Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 1995.
“The Highway of Tomorrowland: The New Jersey Turnpike in the 1950’s,” Conference on Technology and Culture, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, April 1995.
"Famous Shipwrecks of the Jersey Shore,” NJ Studies academic Alliance Conference, New Brunswick, New Jersey, March 1994.
"The Filipino in the American Workplace,” New Jersey Committee for the Humanities Program at the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, May 1993.
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"The Lore of America's Coal Miners: A Fresh Look at the George Korson Collection," Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, American Folklife Center, James Madison Building, Library of Congress, September 2004.
"An Appreciation of John McPhee's The Pine Barrens," New Jersey Library Association Annual Conference, Long Branch, New Jersey, April 2004.
"Engineering Innovations in the Twin Towers," The Paul Monroe Distinguished Lecture, School of Engineering, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, February 2004.
“Remembering the Twin Towers,” Presidential Inaugural Address, Berkeley College, White Plains, New York, April 2002.
“The Loss of the Twin Towers,” Lecture Series, New York State Museum, Albany, New York, March 2002.
“The Attack on the Twin Towers,” Humanities Lecture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, March 2002.
“Managing Millions,” Lecture Series, The Skyscraper Museum, New York City, March 2002.
“Retrospective on the Twin Towers,” Memorial Lecture, Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, New York, October 2001.
“Looking Back Upon the Twin Towers,” Environmental Policy Council, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, October 2001.
“Honoring the Memory of the Twin Towers,” College Symposium, St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, New Jersey, October 2001
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