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Literary Criticism


Almost a Girl

Male Writers and Female Identification Alan Williamson

Gender criticism, Alan Williamson argues, has for too long been shaped and limited by the same dualisms that have defined male versus female literary voices in Western culture. Certain emotions expressed in literature are considered "feminine," certain emotions are typed as "masculine," and there... More


Revising Flannery O'Connor

Southern Literary Culture and the Problem of Female Authorship Katherine Hemple Prown

In her short life, the prolific Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) authored two novels, thirty-two stories, and numerous essays and articles. Although her importance as a twentieth-century southern writer is unquestionable, mainstream feminist criticism has generally neglected O'Connor's work.In... More


The Simms Reader

Selections from the Writings of William Gilmore Simms William Gilmore Simms. Edited by John Caldwell Guilds

Long considered a leading literary figure of the Old South, William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870) wrote letters, novels, short fiction, drama, essays, and poetry in his prolific career. Born in Charleston to an old South Carolina family of modest means and raised by a grandmother with whom his father... More


The Luxury of Skepticism

Politics, Philosophy,and Dialogue in the English Public Sphere, 1660–1740 Timothy Dykstal

How is it that a controversy about politics becomes a conversation about philosophy? From Hobbes to Harrington to Shaftesbury to Berkeley, Timothy Dykstal explores the public function of the philosophical dialogue at the beginning of England's long eighteenth century. From his close analysis of the... More


Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire

English Verse in the Long Eighteenth Century Suvir Kaul

In Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire, Suvir Kaul argues that the aggressive nationalism of James Thomson's ode "Rule, Britannia!" (1740) is the condition to which much English poetry of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries aspires. Poets as varied as Marvell, Waller and Dryden, Defoe,... More


Willa Cather

The Writer and Her World Janis P. Stout

Previous biographies of Willa Cather have either recycled the traditional view of a writer detached from social issues whose work supported a wholesome view of a vanished America, or they have focused solely on revelations about her private life. Challenging these narrow interpretations, Janis P.... More


Writing War in the Twentieth Century

Margot Norris

The twentieth century will be remembered for great innovation in two particular areas: art and culture, and technological advancement. Much of its prodigious technical inventiveness, however, was pressed into service in the conduct of warfare. Why, asks Margot Norris, did violence and suffering on... More


The Modern Androgyne Imagination

A Failed Sublime Lisa Rado

In the late nineteenth century, as changing cultural representations of gender roles and categories made differences between men and women increasingly difficult to define, theorists such as Havelock Ellis, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, and Sigmund Freud began to postulate a third, androgynous sex. For... More


Postslavery Literatures in the Americas

Family Portraits in Black and White George B. Handley

Since its demise in the nineteenth century, slavery has given rise to an outpouring of literatures that reflect the diversity of its hemispheric legacy, but the discipline of literary studies has been reluctant to admit commonalities among former slave societies in the New World. Examining major... More


The Romantic Subject in Autobiography

Rousseau and Goethe Eugene L. Stelzig

Although the literature of modern subjectivity has its sources in the Renaissance and manifests itself in texts as early as Montaigne's Essays and Shakespeare's Hamlet, autobiography as we know it is one of the significant developments of the later eighteenth century. Indeed, the rise of writing... More


The Private Rod

Marital Violence, Sensation, and the Law in Victorian Britain Marlene Tromp

Sensation novels, a genre characterized by scandalous narratives and emotionally and socially provocative dialogue and plots, had their heyday in England in the 1860s and 1870s, in the midst of growing concern about codes of behavior in marriage. Largely excluded from the academic canon of the late... More


Willa Cather's Southern Connections

New Essays on Cather and the South Ann Romines, ed.

Willa Cather spent her first nine years in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where her family had lived for five generations. Even after the Cathers' move to Nebraska, she came of age in an emphatically southern extended family, surrounded by Virginia stories, customs, and controversies. As Eudora... More


Demon or Doll

Images of the Child in Contemporary Writing and Culture Ellen Pifer

From the shootings at Columbine High School to the JonBenet Ramsey murder to the sentencing of "killer kids," today's media cannot decide if children are objects of fear or in need of protection. Our culture's deep-seated ambivalence toward its young is reflected in a fascinating array of recent... More


Epistolary Histories

Letters, Fiction, Culture Amanda Gilroy and W. M. Verhoeven, eds.

This innovative collection of essays participates in the ongoing debate about the epistolary form, challenging readers to rethink the traditional association between the letter and the private sphere. It also pushes the boundaries of that debate by having the contributors respond to each other... More


Back from the Far Field

American Nature Poetry in the Late Twentieth Century Bernard W. Quetchenbach

Many poets writing after World War II have found the individual focus of contemporary poetics poorly suited to making statements directed at public issues and public ethics. The desire to invest such individualized poetry with greater cultural authority presented difficulties for Vietnam-protest... More


The Blood of Paradise

Stephen Goodwin. Preface by Richard Bausch

Stephen Goodwin's second novel is an emblematic tale of the sixties, of a sophisticated couple going back to the land. The restlessness that compels Anna and Steadman to move from the city to a small mountain farm in Virginia is brought into high relief by the cycles of the natural world, and by... More


Essays and Reviews

The 1860 Text and Its Reading Victor Shea and William Whitla, eds.

Essays and Reviews is a collection of seven articles that appeared in 1860, sparking a Victorian culture war that lasted for at least a decade. With pieces written by such prominent Oxford and Cambridge intellectuals as Benjamin Jowett, Mark Pattison, Baden Powell, and Frederick Temple (later... More


Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia

Nancy Martha West

The advertising campaigns launched by Kodak in the early years of snapshot photography stand at the center of a shift in American domestic life that goes deeper than technological innovations in cameras and film. Before the advent of Kodak advertising in 1888, writes Nancy Martha West, Americans... More


A Queer Chivalry

The Homoerotic Asceticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins Julia F. Saville

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was a practitioner of strict asceticism in its broadest definition--the refusal of physical pleasure or comfort in the interests of moral or spiritual gain. As a result, his commentators have felt obliged to take a stand approving or disapproving of this... More


The Forgotten Female Aesthetes

Literary Culture in Late-Victorian England Talia Schaffer

Most critics of aestheticism focus on the Yellow Book, the glossy Victorian journal with the shocking yellow cover that counted among its contributors Aubrey Beardsley and Max Beerbohm. But one of the best-known aesthetes, Oscar Wilde, launched his own magazine, the Woman's World. The audience for... More


Contingent Loves

Simone de Beauvoir and Sexuality Melanie C. Hawthorne, ed.

As the existentialist philosophers of mid-twentieth-century Paris famously asserted, a life can only be assessed fully after it has ended. Fitting, then, that since her death in 1986, the philosopher and novelist Simone de Beauvoir has been the subject of numerous attempts to evaluate her... More


Idol of Suburbia

Marie Corelli and Late-Victorian Literary Culture Annette R. Federico

Marie Corelli (1855–1924) was the most popular novelist of the turn of the century, outselling Hall Caine, Mrs. Humphry Ward, H. G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle by the thousands. For thirty years she was ridiculed by reviewers and the literary elite—Edmund Gosse dismissed her as "that little... More


We Write for Our Own Time

Selected Essays from Seventy-Five Years of the Virginia Quarterly Review Alexander Burnham, ed.

In 1925, Edwin A. Alderman, president of the University of Virginia, fulfilled a long-held dream by establishing a magazine at the institution founded by Thomas Jefferson just over one hundred years earlier. Not only did Alderman initiate publication of the Virginia Quarterly Review, he contributed... More


Writing the Urban Jungle

Reading Empire in London from Doyle to Eliot Joseph McLaughlin

Much has been written about cultural imperialism and the effects of Britain and British culture on colonized people, but Joseph McLaughlin suggests that the influence worked both ways. Focusing on the relationship between the literature of British imperialism and turn-of-the-century metropolitan... More


Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature

Patrick D. Murphy

In the 1990s, the emerging field of ecocriticism—nature-sensitive literary studies—began to establish and define itself. Arguing that the field has matured to the point where it requires a thorough critique and new theoretical underpinnings, Patrick D. Murphy suggests a variety of ways ecocriticism... More


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