Literary Criticism



Understanding David Foster Wallace, revised and expanded edition

Marshall Boswell
Since its publication in 2003, Understanding David Foster Wallace has served as an accessible introduction to the rich array of themes and formal innovations that have made Wallace's fiction so popular and influential. A seminal text in the burgeoning field of David Foster Wallace studies, the original edition of Understanding David Foster Wallace was nevertheless incomplete as it addressed only his first four works of fiction—namely the novels The Broom of the...

Harry Potter and Beyond

Tison Pugh
Harry Potter and Beyond explores J. K. Rowling's beloved best-selling series and its virtuoso reimagining of British literary traditions. Weaving together elements of fantasy, the school-story novel, detective fiction, allegory, and bildungsroman, the Harry Potter novels evade simplistic categorization as children's or fantasy literature. Because the Potter series both breaks new ground and adheres to longstanding narrative formulas, readers can enhance their...

The Forms of Informal Empire

Jessie Reeder
Spanish colonization of Latin America came to an end in the early nineteenth century as, one by one, countries from Bolivia to Chile declared their independence. But soon another empire exerted control over the region through markets and trade dealings—Britain. Merchants, developers, and politicians seized on the opportunity to bring the newly independent nations under the sway of British financial power, subjecting them to an informal empire that...

Writing across the Color Line

Lucas A. Dietrich
The turn of the twentieth century was a period of experimental possibility for U.S. ethnic literature as a number of writers of color began to collaborate with the predominantly white publishing trade to make their work commercially available. In this new book, Lucas A. Dietrich analyzes publishers' and writers' archives to show how authors—including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Charles W. Chesnutt, Finley Peter Dunne, W. E. B. Du...

Detectives in the Shadows

Susanna Lee
Steadfast in fighting crime, but operating outside the police force—and sometimes even the law—is the private detective. Driven by his own moral code, he is a shadowy figure in a trench coat standing on a street corner, his face most likely obscured by a tilted fedora, a lit cigarette dangling from his hand. The hard-boiled detective is known by his dark past, private pain, and powers of deduction. He only asks questions—never answers them. In his stories he is both the main character...

Libraries amid Protest

Sherrin Frances
In September 2011, Occupy Wall Street activists took over New York's Zuccotti Park. Within a matter of weeks, the encampment had become a tiny model of a robust city, with its own kitchen, first aid station, childcare services—and a library of several thousand physical books. Since that time, social movements around the world, from Nuit Debout in Paris to Gezi Park in Istanbul, have built temporary libraries alongside their protests. While these libraries typically...

Stories and the Brain

Paul B. Armstrong
How do our brains enable us to tell and follow stories? And how do stories affect our minds? In Stories and the Brain, Paul B. Armstrong analyzes the cognitive processes involved in constructing and exchanging stories, exploring their role in the neurobiology of mental functioning. Armstrong argues that the ways in which stories order events in time, imitate actions, and relate our experiences to others' lives are correlated to cortical processes of temporal binding, the...

Placing Papers

Amy Hildreth Chen
The sale of authors' papers to archives has become big news, with collections from James Baldwin and Arthur Miller fetching record-breaking sums in recent years. Amy Hildreth Chen offers the history of how this multimillion dollar business developed from the mid-twentieth century onward and considers what impact authors, literary agents, curators, archivists, and others have had on this burgeoning economy. The market for contemporary authors' archives began when research...

Transcendental Heresies

David Faflik
At a moment when the requirements of belief and unbelief were being negotiated in unexpected ways, transcendentalism allowed for a more creative approach to spiritual questions. Interrogating the movement's alleged atheistic underpinnings, David Faflik contends that transcendentalism reconstituted the religious sensibilities of 1830s and 1840s New England, producing a dynamic and complex array of beliefs and behaviors that cannot be categorized as either...

Bodily Evidence

Geneva Cobb Moore
The first African American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni Morrison is one of the most celebrated women writers in the world. In Bodily Evidence: Racism, Slavery, and Maternal Power in the Novels of Toni Morrison, Geneva Cobb Moore explores how Morrison captures and mirrors the tragedy experienced by and transformation of African Americans, using parody and pastiche, semiotics and metaphors, and allegory to portray black life in the...

Downward Mobility

Katherine Binhammer
Beginning in the late eighteenth century, as constant growth became the economic norm throughout Europe, fictional stories involving money were overwhelmingly about loss. Novel after novel tells the tale of bankruptcy and financial failure, of people losing everything and ending up in debtor's prison, of inheritances lost and daughters left orphaned and poor. In Downward Mobility, Katherine Binhammer argues that these stories of ruin are not simple tales about...

The Unknown Islands

Raul Brandão
Apr 2020 - Tagus Press
The Unknown Islands is considered one of the most beautiful works of travel literature in Portuguese and one of the most important homages to the Azorean archipelago. In the summer of 1924, Raul Brandão undertook a trip with other intellectuals through the Azores and Madeira. Fascinated with the landscapes of the islands and seduced by the people, he went on to pen this foundational text of Azorean literature—elegantly capturing the history, memory, and imaginary of this storied place.

Cross-Racial Class Protest in Antebellum American Literature

Timothy Helwig
Historians have long claimed that the antebellum white working class viewed blacks, both free and enslaved, not as allies but enemies. While it is true that racial and ethnic strife among northern workers prevented an effective labor movement from materializing in America prior to the Civil War, Cross-Racial Class Protest in Antebellum American Literature demonstrates that a considerable subset of white and black writers were able to imagine cross-racial...

The Age of Phillis

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
In 1773, a young, African American woman named Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry that challenged Western prejudices about African and female intellectual capabilities. Based on fifteen years of archival research, The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are...

That Place Where You Opened Your Hands

Susan Leslie Moore
Celebrating the tension between what we imagine and what we know the world to be, Susan Leslie Moore's debut collection moves between certainty and doubt, dead seriousness and determined playfulness. Exploring identity and the exterior and interior selves we create through the natural world, language, and relationships, the poems of That Place Where You Opened Your Hands bring the ordinary rhythms of life and motherhood into coexistence with wilder truths. As Moore writes, "If I can't...

Not Even Past

Cody Marrs
The American Civil War lives on in our collective imagination like few other events. The story of the war has been retold in countless films, novels, poems, memoirs, plays, sculptures, and monuments. Often remembered as an emancipatory struggle, as an attempt to destroy slavery in America now and forever, it is also memorialized as a fight for Southern independence; as a fratricide that divided the national family; and as a dark, cruel conflict defined by its brutality. What...

Defending Privilege

Nicole Mansfield Wright
As revolution and popular unrest roiled the final decades of the eighteenth century, authors, activists, and philosophers across the British Empire hailed the rise of the liberal subject, valorizing the humanity of the marginalized and the rights of members of groups long considered inferior or subhuman. Yet at the same time, a group of conservative authors mounted a reactionary attempt to cultivate sympathy for the privileged. In Defending...

French Guiana

Patrick Chamoiseau
Hailed by Milan Kundera as "an heir of Joyce and Kafka," Prix Goncourt winner Patrick Chamoiseau is among the leading Francophone writers today. With most of his novels having appeared in English, this book opens a new window on his oeuvre. A moving poetic essay that bears witness to the forgotten history of the French penal colony in French Guiana, French Guiana—Memory Traces of the Penal Colony accompanied by more than sixty evocative color photographs by Rodolphe Hammadi and...

North American Women Poets in the 21st Century

Lisa Sewell
North American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Beyond Lyric and Language is an important new addition to the American Poets in the 21st Century series. Like the earlier anthologies, this volume includes generous selections of poetry by some of the best poets of our time as well as illuminating poetics statements and incisive essays on their work. Among the insightful pieces included in this volume are essays by Catherine Cucinella on Marilyn Chin, Meg...

Prophets, Publicists, and Parasites

Adam Gordon
Print culture expanded significantly in the nineteenth century due to new print technologies and more efficient distribution methods, providing literary critics, who were alternately celebrated and reviled, with an ever-increasing number of venues to publish their work. Adam Gordon embraces the multiplicity of critique in the period from 1830 to 1860 by exploring the critical forms that emerged. Prophets, Publicists, and Parasites is...