Literary Criticism




A New Dramatic Fable
Sarah Fielding
Before Jane Austen's novels explored heroines in English society, writers Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier dared to provide commentary on gender and education through self-conscious narratives. Published in 1754 in five parts and divided into three volumes, The Cry stands as one of the most distinctive and intriguing works by women during the florescence of their writing in eighteenth-century England. Strikingly experimental—mixing fiction and philosophy, drama and exposition, satire and irony, and singular and...
Narrative, Medicine, and Authority in Augustan Epic
Julia Nelson Hawkins
Inspired by classical and Hellenistic "miracles" of medical science, Augustan poets dramatically reshaped the Roman epic by infusing it with medical metaphors and themes. In Therapoetics after Actium, Julia Nelson Hawkins argues that this shift constitutes a veritable Roman "therapoetics." By incorporating medical narratives into verse, these poems essentially position the poet as a healer and his poetry as healthy. Hawkins explores why so many...
Susan J. McWilliams, Ph.D.
In seminal works such as Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, and The Fire Next Time, acclaimed author and social critic James Baldwin (1924–1987) expresses his profound belief that writers have the power to transform society, to engage the public, and to inspire and channel conversation to achieve lasting change. While Baldwin is best known for his writings on racial consciousness and injustice, he is also one of the country's most eloquent theorists of democratic...
Shannon L. Mariotti
Marilynne Robinson is arguably one of the most important writers of our time. Her voice resonates across the richly imagined American landscapes within which she grounds her stories of love and loss, alienation and belonging, injustice and redemption. Robinson's award-winning body of work—including Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Lila, winner...
Jesse Pomeroy, the Boy Murderer of 1870s Boston
Dawn Keetley
When twelve-year-old Jesse Pomeroy tortured seven small boys in the Boston area and then went on to brutally murder two other children, one of the most striking aspects of his case was his inability ever to answer the question of why he did what he did. Whether in court or in the newspapers, many experts tried to explain his horrible acts—and distance the rest of society from them. Despite those efforts, and attempts since, the mystery remains. In this book, Dawn...
The Lyric Ecology of Modern Black Literature
Sonya Posmentier
At the intersection of social and environmental history there has emerged a rich body of black literary response to natural and agricultural experiences, whether the legacy of enforced agricultural labor or of the destruction and displacement brought about by a hurricane. In Cultivation and Catastrophe, Sonya Posmentier uncovers a vivid diasporic tradition of black environmental writing that responds to the aftermath of plantation slavery, urbanization,...
Henry T. Edmondson, III, Ph.D.
Acclaimed author and Catholic thinker Flannery O'Connor (1925–1964) penned two novels, two collections of short stories, various essays, and numerous book reviews over the course of her life. Her work continues to fascinate, perplex, and inspire new generations of readers and poses important questions about human nature, ethics, social change, equality, and justice. Although political philosophy was not O'Connor's pursuit, her writings frequently address themes that are...
Devoney Looser
Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know. Here are the Austen influencers, including her first English illustrator, the eccentric Ferdinand Pickering, whose sensational gothic images may be better understood through his brushes with bullying,...
Claudia Franziska Brühwiler
Philip Roth is widely acknowledged as one of the twentieth century's most prolific and acclaimed writers. Roth's first novel, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), received the National Book Award, and he followed this stunning debut with more than thirty books—earning another National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle awards, three PEN/Faulkner Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. Throughout his career, Roth delighted in controversy but often denied that he sought a role as a public...
Cultivating Virtues of Place
Jack R. Baker
Prominent author and cultural critic Wendell Berry is well known for his contributions to agrarianism and environmentalism, but his commentary on education has received comparatively little attention. Berry has been eloquently unmasking America's cultural obsession with restless mobility for decades, arguing that it causes damage to both the land and the character of our communities. Education, he maintains, plays a central role in this obsession, inculcating in...
The Lumpenproletariat and African American Marxism in Depression-Era Literature
Nathaniel Mills
In Marxism, the concept of the lumpenproletariat refers to the masses in rags, outsiders on the edge of society, drifters and criminals, of little or no use politically. But in Ragged Revolutionaries, Nathaniel Mills argues that the lumpenproletariat was central to an overlooked yet vibrant mode of African American Marxism formulated during the Great Depression by black writers on the Communist left. By analyzing multiple...
Vanishing as Presence
John T. Irwin
Weldon Kees is one of those fascinating people of whom you’ve likely never heard. Most intriguingly, he disappeared without a trace on July 18, 1955. Police found his 1954 Plymouth Savoy abandoned on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge one day later. The keys were still in the ignition. Though Kees had alluded days prior to picking up and moving to Mexico, none of his poetry, art, or criticism has since surfaced either north or south of the Rio Grande. Kees’s vanishing has led critics...
China and the Early American Romance of Free Trade
Kendall A. Johnson
In the imaginations of early Americans, the Middle Kingdom was the wealthiest empire in the world. Its geographical distance did not deter commercial aspirations—rather, it inspired them. Starting in the late eighteenth century, merchants from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Salem, Newport, and elsewhere cast speculative lines to China. The resulting fortunes shaped the cultural foundation of the early republic and funded westward frontier expansion. In ...
Conversations with Painters, Poets, Musicians, and the Wicked Witch of the West
Wesley Wehr
An Arctic Quest
Nuna A. Macdonald
American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors
Jennifer Harris
Literary tourism has existed in the United States since at least the early nineteenth century, and now includes sites in almost every corner of the country. From Page to Place examines how Americans have taken up this form of tourism, offering an investigation of the places and practices of literary tourism from literary scholars, historians, tour guides, and collectors. The essays here begin to trace for the first time the histories of some of these...
A Biographical Study
Robert Bagg
Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Wilbur (b. 1921) is part of a notable literary cohort, American poets who came to prominence in the mid-twentieth century. Wilbur's verse is esteemed for its fluency, wit, and optimism; his ingeniously rhymed translations of French drama by Molière, Racine, and Corneille remain the most often staged in the English-speaking world; his essays possess a scope and acumen equal to the era's best criticism. This biography examines the philosophical and...
Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity
Rivi Handler-Spitz
Symptoms of an Unruly Age compares the writings of Li Zhi (1527–1602) and his late-Ming compatriots to texts composed by their European contemporaries, including Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Cervantes. Emphasizing aesthetic patterns that transcend national boundaries, Rivi Handler-Spitz explores these works as culturally distinct responses to similar social and economic tensions affecting early modern cultures on both ends of Eurasia. The paradoxes, ironies, and...
Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition
Mark Bosco, SJ
Did Flannery O'Connor really write the way she did because and—not in spite of—her Catholicism? Revelation & Convergence brings together professors of literature, theology, and history to help both critics and readers better understand O'Connor's religious imagination. The contributors focus on many of the Catholic thinkers central to O'Connor's creative development, especially those that O'Connor mentioned in the recently discovered and...
edited by Eve Tavor Bannet and Roxann Wheeler
The first section of this volume consists of a panel, "Transnational Quixotes and Quixotisms," introduced by Catherine Jaffe. It includes essays by Amelia Dale on how female quixotes differed from male quixotes in eighteenth-century England; by Elena Deanda on the Marquis de Sade as a quixotic figure; by Elizabeth Franklin Lewis on English travelers’ uses of Spanish cartography; and by Aaron R. Hanlon on quixotism as a global heuristic, with reference to the...
Poems, 2008–2016
X. J. Kennedy
In this, his ninth book of poetry, lyric master X. J. Kennedy regales his readers with engaging rhythm fittingly signaled by the book’s title, which echoes Duke Ellington’s jazz classic "It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)." Kennedy’s poems, infused with verve and surprise, are by turns irresistibly funny and sharply insightful about life in America. Some poems are personal recollections of childhood and growing up, as in "My Mother Consigns to the Flames My Trove of Comic Books." "Thomas...
Lorraine Elena Roses
In the 1920s and 1930s Boston became a rich and distinctive site of African American artistic production, unfolding at the same time as the Harlem Renaissance and encompassing literature, theater, music, and visual art. Owing to the ephemeral nature of much of this work, many of the era's primary sources have been lost. In this book, Lorraine Elena Roses employs archival sources and personal interviews to recover this artistic output, examining the work of...
An Anthology
edited by Imre Szeman and Dominic Boyer
Energy humanities is a field of scholarship that, like medical and digital humanities before it, aims to overcome traditional boundaries between the disciplines and between academic and applied research. Responding to growing public concern about anthropogenic climate change and the unsustainability of the fuels we use to power our modern society, energy humanists highlight the essential contribution that humanistic insights and methods can make to areas of analysis once thought...
Wendell Berry and the Poetics of Community, Affection, and Identity
Joseph R. Wiebe
Wendell Berry teaches us to love our places—to pay careful attention to where we are, to look beyond and within, and to live in ways that are not captive to the mastery of cultural, social, or economic assumptions about our life in these places. Creation has its own integrity and demands that we confront it.   In The Place of Imagination, Joseph R. Wiebe argues that this confrontation is precisely what shapes our moral capacity to respond...
Morality and Mortality in J. D. Robb's Novels
Kecia Ali
Kecia Ali's Human in Death explores the best-selling futuristic suspense series In Death, written by romance legend Nora Roberts under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. Centering on troubled NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire tycoon husband Roarke, the novels explore vital questions about human flourishing.   Through close readings of more than fifty novels and novellas published over two decades, Ali analyzes the ethical world of Robb's New York circa 2060. Robb...
Said and the Unsaid
Daniel Martin Varisco
The late Edward Said remains one of the most influential critics and public intellectuals of our time, with lasting contributions to many disciplines. Much of his reputation derives from the phenomenal multidisciplinary influence of his 1978 book Orientalism. Said's seminal polemic analyzes novels, travelogues, and academic texts to argue that a dominant discourse of West over East has warped virtually all past European and American representation of the Near East. But despite the...
Short Stories by Women Writers of Odisha
Valerie Henitiuk
01/2017 - UBC Press
Spark of Light is a diverse collection of short stories by women writers from the Indian province of Odisha. Originally written in Odia and dating from the late nineteenth century to the present, these stories offer a multiplicity of voices – some sentimental and melodramatic, others rebellious and bold – and capture the predicament of characters who often live on the margins of society. The stories included here provide examples of the great richness of Odishan literary...
Process and Prophecy in Thoreau's Vision of Dying
Audrey Raden
01/2017 - HFMAS
Scholars have long considered the elegiac characteristics of Thoreau's work. Yet few have explored how his personal views on death and dying influenced his philosophies and writings. In beautiful prose, Audrey Raden places Thoreau's views of death and dying at the center of his work, contending that it is crucial to consider the specific historical and regional contexts in which he lived—nineteenth-century New England—to fully appreciate his perspectives. To...
Bartholomew Brinkman
In Poetic Modernism in the Culture of Mass Print, Bartholomew Brinkman argues that an emerging mass print culture conditioned the production, reception, and institutionalization of poetic modernism from the latter part of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century—with lasting implications for the poetry and media landscape. Drawing upon extensive archival research in the United States and Britain, Brinkman demonstrates that a variety of print...