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Literary Criticism


Literature and Culture Collection

"Clotel" by William Wells Brown: An Electronic Scholarly Edition

The first African American novel, Clotel was published in 1853 in London, when its author was still legally a slave in the United States. The work's stature derives not only from its remarkable origin but from its explosive content, which is freely based on the relationship between Thomas... More


The Digital Temple: A Documentary Edition of George Herbert's English Verse

A public orator at Cambridge and later a priest in the Church of England, George Herbert (1593–1633) balanced a vigorous intellectual life with a passionate devotion to his faith. These two important strands in his life informed his great work, The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private... More


Emily Dickinson's Correspondences: A Born-Digital Textual Inquiry

Unpublished in book form during her lifetime, the poems of Emily Dickinson were nonetheless shared with those she trusted most—through her letters. This XML-based archive brings together seventy-four poems and letters from Emily’s correspondence with her sister-in-law and primary... More


Herman Melville's "Typee": A Fluid Text Edition

This innovative work represents the most advanced, and accessible, approach to the study of a "fluid text" (a work existing in multiple versions). Analyzing Melville's working draft manuscript of Typee, John Bryant establishes three layered versions of the heavily revised text and... More


The Letters of Christina Rossetti: A Digital Edition

Christina Rossetti has come to be considered one of the major poets of the Victorian era.This digital edition incorporates the complete text of the 4-volume print edition, The Letters of Christina Rossetti, edited by Antony H. Harrison. All 2124 letters may be read in chronological order or... More


The Letters of Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold was the preeminent poet/critic of the second half of the nineteenth century. Including nearly 4,000 letters, this work represents the most comprehensive and assiduously annotated collection of his correspondence available.


Fellow Travelers
How Road Stories Shaped the Idea of the Americas John Ochoa

Road trips loom large in the American imagination, and stories from the road have been central to crafting national identities across North and South America. Tales of traversing this vast geography, with its singular landscape, have helped foster a sense of American exceptionalism. Examining three... More


Fashioning Character
Style, Performance, and Identity in Contemporary American Literature Lauren S. Cardon

It’s often said that we are what we wear. Tracing an American trajectory in fashion, Lauren Cardon shows how we become what we wear. Over the twentieth century, the American fashion industry diverged from its roots in Paris, expanding and attempting to reach as many consumers as possible. Fashion... More


Saul Steinberg's Literary Journeys
Nabokov, Joyce, and Others Jessica R. Feldman

Saul Steinberg’s inimitable drawings, paintings, and assemblages enriched the New Yorker, gallery and museum shows, and his own books for more than half a century. Although the literary qualities of Steinberg’s work have often been noted in passing, critics and art historians have yet to fathom the... More


Reading Reality
Nineteenth-Century American Experiments in the Real E. Thomas Finan

In the early 1800s, American critics warned about the danger of literature as a distraction from reality. Later critical accounts held that American literature during the antebellum period was idealistic and that literature grew more realistic after the horrors of the Civil War. By focusing on... More


Rivers in Russian Literature
Margaret Ziolkowski

Rivers in Russian Literature focuses on the Russian literary and folkloric treatment of five rivers—the Dnieper, Volga, Neva, Don, and Angara. Each chapter traces, within a geographical and historical context, the evolution of the literary representation of one river. Imagination may endow a river... More


Henry Adams in Washington
Linking the Personal and Public Lives of America’s Man of Letters Ormond Seavey

A descendent of two U.S. presidents and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Henry Adams enjoyed a very particular place in American life, not least due to his ancestry. Yet despite his prolific writing in the years between 1877 and 1891, when he lived in Washington, D.C., Adams has somehow slipped into... More


Innovation in the Italian Counter-Reformation
Edited by Shannon McHugh and Anna Wainwright

The enduring "black legend" of the Italian Counter-Reformation, which has held sway in both scholarly and popular culture, maintains that the Council of Trent ushered in a cultural dark age in Italy, snuffing out the spectacular creative production of the Renaissance. As a result, the decades... More


Inventing the Critic in Renaissance England
William M. Russell

The turn of the seventeenth century was an important moment in the history of English criticism. In a series of pioneering works of rhetoric and poetics, writers such as Philip Sidney, George Puttenham, and Ben Jonson laid the foundations of critical discourse in English, and the English word "... More


Eden's Endemics
Narratives of Biodiversity on Earth and Beyond Elizabeth Callaway

In the past thirty years biodiversity has become one of the central organizing principles through which we understand the nonhuman environment. Its deceptively simple definition as the variation among living organisms masks its status as a hotly contested term both within the sciences and more... More


Victorians on Broadway
Literature, Adaptation, and the Modern American Musical Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

Broadway productions of musicals such as The King and I, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, and Jekyll and Hyde became huge theatrical hits. Remarkably, all were based on one-hundred-year-old British novels or memoirs. What could possibly explain their enormous success? Victorians on Broadway is a wide-ranging... More


Hostile Humor in Renaissance France
Bruce Hayes

In sixteenth-century France, the level of jokes, irony, and ridicule found in pamphlets and plays became aggressively hostile. In Hostile Humor in Renaissance France, Bruce Hayes investigates this period leading up to the French Wars of Religion, when a deliberately harmful and destructive form of... More


Empire of Diamonds
Victorian Gems in Imperial Settings Adrienne Munich

In 1850, the legendary Koh-i-noor diamond, gem of Eastern potentates, was transferred from the Punjab in India and, in an elaborate ceremony, placed into Queen Victoria’s outstretched hands. This act inaugurated what author Adrienne Munich recognizes in her engaging new book as the empire of... More


Cultural Entanglements
Langston Hughes and the Rise of African and Caribbean Literature Shane Graham

In addition to being a poet, fiction writer, playwright, and essayist, Langston Hughes was also a globe-trotting cosmopolitan, travel writer, translator, avid international networker, and—perhaps above all—pan-Africanist. In Cultural Entanglements, Shane Graham examines Hughes’s associations with a... More


Love and Depth in the American Novel
From Stowe to James Ashley C. Barnes

Love and Depth in the American Novel seeks to change how we think about the American love story and how we imagine the love of literature. By examining classics of nineteenth-century American literature, Ashley Barnes offers a new approach to literary theory that encompasses both New Historicism... More


Milton among Spaniards
Angelica Duran

Firmly grounded in literary studies but drawing on religious studies, translation studies, drama, and visual art, Milton among Spaniards is the first book-length exploration of the afterlife of John Milton in Spanish culture, illuminating underexamined Anglo-Hispanic cultural relations. This study... More


Falling Short
The Bildungsroman and the Crisis of Self-Fashioning Aleksandar Stević

A paradox haunts the bildungsroman: few protagonists successfully complete the process of maturation and socialization that ostensibly defines the form. From the despondent endings of Dickens’s Great Expectations and Meredith’s The Ordeal of Richard Feverel to the suicide of Balzac’s Lucien de... More


Bad Men
Creative Touchstones of Black Writers Howard Rambsy II

How have African American writers drawn on "bad" black men and black boys as creative touchstones for their evocative and vibrant art? This is the question posed by Howard Rambsy’s new book, which explores bad men as a central, recurring, and understudied figure in African American literature, and... More


Neoliberal Nonfictions
The Documentary Aesthetic from Joan Didion to Jay-Z Daniel Worden

With the ascendancy of neoliberalism in American culture beginning in the 1960s, the political structures governing private lives became more opaque and obscure. Neoliberal Nonfictions argues that a new style of documentary art emerged to articulate the fissures between individual experience and... More


The Sketch, the Tale, and the Beginnings of American Literature
Lydia G. Fash

Accounts of the rise of American literature often start in the 1850s with a cluster of "great American novels"—Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Melville’s Moby-Dick and Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But these great works did not spring fully formed from the heads of their creators. All three relied on... More


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