Russell A. Potter was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and earned his Ph.D. in English Literature at Brown University in 1991.  Since 1995, he has taught at Rhode Island College, both in the English and Media Studies programs; his specialty is in Victorian visual culture, particularly the depiction of the Arctic in panoramas, dioramas, and lantern shows, as well as in early cinema. His research on the lost Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin is internationally known, and he has lectured on this subject throughout the United States, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and England, most recently in at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. His work on Franklin was featured in the documentary Arctic Passage: Prisoners of the Ice, an Emmy-nominated 2004 episode of PBS’s acclaimed NOVA series, and his book, Arctic Spectacles: The Frozen North in Visual Culture, 1818-1875 was published in 2007 by the University of Washington Press. His most recent book -- Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a One Hundred and Sixty-five Year Search -- was published in 2016 by McGill-Queen's University Press.

He also writes fiction; in 2011 his novel, PYG: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig, was published in the UK by Canongate Books; in 2012 it came out in the US and Canada from Viking/Penguin; it's since been translated into Swedish, Turkish, and Italian. His stories and essays have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Ocean State Review, and Gingerbread House.