Literary Criticism



A Political Companion to Philip Roth

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...

The Making of Jane Austen

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,...

Wendell Berry and Higher Education

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 Poetry of Weldon Kees

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...

The New Middle Kingdom

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 ...

From Page to Place

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...

Let Us Watch Richard Wilbur

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...

Symptoms of an Unruly Age

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...

Revelation and Convergence

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...

Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Volume 46

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...

That Swing

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...

Black Bostonians and the Politics of Culture, 1920-1940

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...

Energy Humanities

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...

Reading Orientalism

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...

The Place of Imagination

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...

Human in Death

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...

Spark of Light

Valerie Henitiuk
Jan 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...

When I Came to Die

Audrey Raden
Jan 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...