Literary Criticism



Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools

James M. Hargett, hD
First-hand accounts of travel provide windows into places unknown to the reader, or new ways of seeing familiar places. In Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools, the first book-length treatment in English of Chinese travel literature (youji), James M. Hargett identifies and examines core works in the genre, from the Six Dynasties period (220–581), when its essential characteristics emerged, to its florescence in the late Ming dynasty...

The Digital Literary Sphere

Simone Murray
Reports of the book’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Books are flourishing in the Internet era—widely discussed and reviewed in online readers’ forums and publicized through book trailers and author blog tours. But over the past twenty-five years, digital media platforms have undeniably transformed book culture. Since Amazon’s founding in 1994, the whole way in which books are created, marketed, publicized, sold, reviewed, showcased, consumed,...

The Hymnal

Christopher N. Phillips
It stands barely three inches high, a small brick of a book. The pages are skewed a bit, and evidence of a small hand print remains on the worn, cheap leather covers that don’t quite close. The book bears the marks of considerable use. But why—and for whom—was it made? Christopher N. Phillips’s The Hymnal is the first study to reconstruct the practices of reading and using hymnals, which were virtually everywhere in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Isaac Watts invented a small, words-only hymnal...

Reading and the Making of Time in the Eighteenth Century

Christina Lupton
Books have always posed a problem of time for readers. Becoming widely available in the eighteenth century—when working hours increased and lighter and quicker forms of reading (newspapers, magazines, broadsheets) surged in popularity—the material form of the codex book invited readers to situate themselves creatively in time. Drawing on letters, diaries, reading logs, and a range of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century novels, Christina Lupton’s Reading and...

Imagination and Science in Romanticism

Richard C. Sha
Richard C. Sha argues that scientific understandings of the imagination indelibly shaped literary Romanticism. Challenging the idea that the imagination found a home only on the side of the literary, as a mental vehicle for transcending the worldly materials of the sciences, Sha shows how imagination helped to operationalize both scientific and literary discovery. Essentially, the imagination forced writers to consider the difference between what was possible and impossible while thinking...

Reductive Reading

Sarah Allison
What is to be gained by reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch from an Excel spreadsheet, or the novels of Charles Dickens through a few hundred dialogue tags—those he said/she saids that bring his characters to life? Sarah Danielle Allison’s Reductive Reading argues that the greatest gift the computational analysis of texts has given to traditional criticism is not computational at all. Rather, one of the most powerful ways to generate subtle reading is to be reductive; that is, to...

A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass

Neil Roberts
Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a prolific writer and public speaker whose impact on American literature and history has been long studied by historians and literary critics. Yet as political theorists have focused on the legacies of such notables as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Douglass's profound influence on Afro-modern and American political thought has often been undervalued. In an effort to fill this gap in the scholarship on Douglass, editor Neil Roberts and an...

Cyberformalism

Daniel Shore
Linguistic forms are essential to meaning: like words, they make a semantic contribution to the things we say. We inherit them from past writers and speakers and fill them with different words to produce novel utterances. They shape us and the ways we interpret the world. Yet prevalent assumptions about language and the constraints of print-finding tools have kept linguistic forms and their histories hidden from view. Drawing on recent work in cognitive and...

Writing to the World

Rachael Scarborough King
In Writing to the World, Rachael Scarborough King examines the shift from manuscript to print media culture in the long eighteenth century. She introduces the concept of the "bridge genre," which enables such change by transferring existing textual conventions to emerging modes of composition and circulation. She draws on this concept to reveal how four crucial genres that emerged during this time—the newspaper, the periodical, the novel, and the...

The Medium Is the Monster

Mark McCutcheon
Jun 2018 - UBC Press
Technology, a word that emerged historically first to denote the study of any art or technique, has come, in modernity, to describe advanced machines, industrial systems, and media. McCutcheon argues that it is Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein that effectively reinvented the meaning of the word for modern English. It was then Marshall McLuhan's media theory and its adaptations in Canadian popular culture that popularized, even...

Writing the Body in Motion

Angie Abdou
Jun 2018 - UBC Press
Sport literature is never just about sport. The genre's potential to explore the human condition, including aspects of violence, gender, and the body, has sparked the interest of writers, readers, and scholars. Over the last decade, a proliferation of sport literature courses across the continent is evidence of the sophisticated and evolving body of work developing in this area. Writing the Body in Motion offers introductory essays on the most commonly...

Above the American Renaissance

Harold K. Bush
Above the American Renaissance takes David S. Reynolds's classic study Beneath the American Renaissance as a model and a provocation to consider how language and concepts broadly defined as spiritual are essential to understanding nineteenth-century American literary culture. In the 1980s, Reynolds's scholarship and methodology enlivened investigations of religious culture, and since then, for reasons that include a...

Lydia Sigourney

Mary Louise Kete
During her lifetime, Lydia Sigourney was acclaimed as nineteenth-century America's most popular woman poet and published widely as a historian, travel writer, essayist, and educator. While serious critical attention to her work languished following her death and into the twentieth century, a growing number of critics and writers have reexamined Sigourney and her large body of writing and have given her a central place in the "new canon." This first collection of original essays...

Veteran Americans

Benjamin Cooper
"I may dare to speak, and I intend to speak and write what I think," wrote a New York volunteer serving in the Mexican War in 1848. Such sentiments of resistance and confrontation run throughout the literature produced by veteran Americans in the nineteenth century—from prisoner-of-war narratives and memoirs to periodicals, adventure pamphlets, and novels. Military men and women were active participants in early American print culture, yet they...

Word of Mouth

Chad Bennett
Can the art of gossip help us to better understand modern and contemporary poetry? Gossip’s ostensible frivolity may seem at odds with common conceptions of poetry as serious, solitary expression. But in Word of Mouth, Chad Bennett explores the dynamic relationship between gossip and American poetry, uncovering the unexpected ways that the history of the modern lyric intertwines with histories of sexuality in the twentieth century. Through nuanced readings of Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes,...

Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Volume 47

edited by Eve Tavor Bannet and Roxann Wheeler
Focused on conventions of technology, labor, and tolerance on the one hand, and on artistic intentionality on the other hand, these essays also address the implications of this past in our own research today. The first section, "Representing Humans and Technology," opens with the late Srinivas Aravamudan’s presidential address, "From Enlightenment to Anthropocene." This is followed by a panel of essays on labor and industry, which includes Valentina Tikoff on...

Romantic Shades and Shadows

Susan J. Wolfson
Reading is a weirdly phantasmic trade: animating words to revive absent voices, rehearing the past, fantasizing a future. In Romantic Shades and Shadows, Susan J. Wolfson explores spectral language, formations, and sensations, defining an apparitional poetics in the finely grained textures of writing and their effects on present reading. Framed by an introductory chapter on writing and apparition and an afterword on haunted reading, the book includes chapters of sustained, revelatory close attention...

The Oven

Ilan Stavans
After a chance meeting with a shaman in Colombia, Ilan Stavans, the highly regarded literary scholar, found himself in the Amazon rainforest. He had reluctantly agreed to participate in a religious ceremony that involved taking the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Even though he considered himself a skeptic and a rational intellectual, as someone whose worldview was defined by his education and his heritage as a Mexican Jew, Stavans found that the ritual pushed him to reconsider many of his basic understandings, including his...