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Literary Criticism


Stranger America

A Narrative Ethics of Exclusion Josh Toth

Contradictory ideals of egalitarianism and self-reliance haunt America’s democratic state. We need look no further than Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and victory for proof that early twentieth-century anxieties about individualism, race, and the foreign or intrusive "other"... More


Women Writers of the Beat Era

Autobiography and Intertextuality Mary Paniccia Carden

The Beat Generation was a group of writers who rejected cultural standards, experimented with drugs, and celebrated sexual liberation. Starting in the 1950s with works such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, the Beat Generation... More


Shakespeare's Ocean

An Ecocritical Exploration Dan Brayton

Study of the sea--both in terms of human interaction with it and its literary representation--has been largely ignored by ecocritics. In Shakespeare’s Ocean, Dan Brayton foregrounds the maritime dimension of a writer whose plays and poems have had an enormous impact on literary notions of... More


Pirating Fictions

Ownership and Creativity in Nineteenth-Century Popular Culture Monica F. Cohen

Two distinctly different meanings of piracy are ingeniously intertwined in Monica Cohen's lively new book, which shows how popular depictions of the pirate held sway on the page and the stage even as their creators were preoccupied with the ravages of literary appropriation. The golden age... More


Willful Submission

Sado-Erotics and Heavenly Marriage in Victorian Religious Poetry Amanda Paxton

Victorian England: a Jesuit priest writes of wrestling with God at night, limbs entangled; an Anglican sister begs Jesus, her divine lover, to end her aching anticipation of their union; a clergyman exhorts nuns to study the example of medieval women who suffered on the rack in order to... More


Imitation Nation

Red, White, and Blackface in Early and Antebellum US Literature Jason Richards

How did early Americans define themselves? The American exceptionalist perspective tells us that the young republic rejected Europeans, Native Americans, and African Americans in order to isolate a national culture and a white national identity. Imitativeness at this time was often seen as... More


The Pragmatist Turn

Religion, the Enlightenment, and the Formation of American Literature Giles Gunn

In The Pragmatist Turn, renowned scholar of American literature and thought Giles Gunn offers a new critical history of the way seventeenth-century religion and the eighteenth-century Enlightenment influenced the formation of subsequent American writing. This shaping was dependent on their... More


The Illiberal Imagination

Class and the Rise of the U.S. Novel Joe Shapiro

The Illiberal Imagination offers a synthetic, historical formalist account of how—and to what end—U.S. novels from the late eighteenth century to the mid-1850s represented economic inequality and radical forms of economic egalitarianism in the new nation. In conversation with intellectual,... More


Genre Theory and Historical Change

Theoretical Essays of Ralph Cohen John Rowlett

Ralph Cohen was highly regarded as the visionary founding editor of New Literary History, but his own theoretical essays appeared in such a scattering of publications that their conceptual originality, underlying coherence, and range of application have not been readily apparent. This new... More


East-West Exchange and Late Modernism

Williams, Moore, Pound Zhaoming Qian

In East-West Exchange and Late Modernism, Zhaoming Qian examines the nature and extent of Asian influence on some of the literary masterpieces of Western late modernism. Focusing on the poets William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and Ezra Pound, Qian relates captivating stories about... More


The Word on the Streets

The American Language of Vernacular Modernism Brooks E. Hefner

From the hard-boiled detective stories of Dashiell Hammett to the novels of Claude McKay, The Word on the Streets examines a group of writers whose experimentation with the vernacular argues for a rethinking of American modernism—one that cuts across traditional boundaries of class, race,... More


The Algerian New Novel

The Poetics of a Modern Nation, 1950-1979 Valérie K. Orlando

Disputing the claim that Algerian writing during the struggle against French colonial rule dealt almost exclusively with revolutionary themes, The Algerian New Novel shows how Algerian authors writing in French actively contributed to the experimental forms of the period, expressing a new... More


Grief and Meter

Elegies for Poets after Auden Sally Connolly

The elegizing of poets is one of the oldest and most enduring traditions in English poetry. Many of the most influential and best-known poems in the language—such as Milton’s "Lycidas," Shelley’s "Adonais," and Auden’s "In Memory of W. B. Yeats"—are elegies for poets. In Grief and... More


The Mudimbe Reader

V. Y. Mudimbe. Edited by Pierre-Philippe Fraiture and Daniel Orrells

A prominent francophone thinker and writer from sub-Saharan Africa, V. Y. Mudimbe is known for his efforts to bridge Western and African modes of knowledge and for his critiques of a range of disciplines, from classics and philosophy to anthropology and comparative literature. The Mudimbe... More


Beautiful Deceptions

European Aesthetics, the Early American Novel, and Illusionist Art Philipp Schweighauser

The art of the early republic abounds in representations of deception: the villains of Gothic novels deceive their victims with visual and acoustic tricks; the ordinary citizens of picaresque novels are hoodwinked by quacks and illiterate but shrewd adventurers; and innocent sentimental... More


Margaret Garner

The Premiere Performances of Toni Morrison's Libretto Edited by La Vinia Delois Jennings

In January 1856, Margaret Garner—an enslaved woman on a Kentucky plantation—ran with members of her family to the free state of Ohio. As slave catchers attempted to capture the fugitives in Cincinnati, Garner cut the throat of her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to prevent her return to... More


Inter-tech(s)

Colonialism and the Question of Technology in Francophone Literature Roxanna Nydia Curto

Challenging the notion that francophone literature generally valorizes a traditional, natural mode of being over a scientific, modern one, Inter-tech(s) proposes a new understanding of the relationship between France and its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean by exploring how... More


Elizabeth Bishop's Brazil

Bethany Hicok

When the American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrived in Brazil in 1951 at the age of forty, she had not planned to stay, but her love affair with the Brazilian aristocrat Lota de Macedo Soares and with the country itself set her on another course, and Brazil became her home for nearly two decades... More


The Art of Fiction

James Salter. Introduction by John D. Casey

James Salter’s exalted place in American letters is based largely on the intense admiration of other writers, but his work resonates far beyond the realm of fellow craftsmen, addressing themes--youth, war, erotic love, marriage, life abroad, friendship--that speak to us all. Following... More


Fashion and Fiction

Self-Transformation in Twentieth-Century American Literature Lauren S. Cardon

During the twentieth century, the rise of the concept of Americanization—shedding ethnic origins and signs of "otherness" to embrace a constructed American identity—was accompanied by a rhetoric of personal transformation that would ultimately characterize the American Dream. The theme of... More


Ruskin's Culture Wars

Fors Clavigera and the Crisis of Victorian Liberalism Judith Stoddart

"When I consider the quantity of wise talking which has passed in at one long ear of the world, and out at the other, without making the smallest impression upon its mind, I am tempted for the rest of my life to try and do what seems to me rational, silently; and to speak no more." --... More


The Poetics of Poesis

The Making of Nineteenth-Century English Fiction Felicia Bonaparte

Examining novels written in nineteenth-century England and throughout most of the West, as well as philosophical essays on the conception of fictional form, Felicia Bonaparte sees the novel in this period not as the continuation of eighteenth-century "realism," as has commonly been assumed,... More


Barbaric Culture and Black Critique

Black Antislavery Writers, Religion, and the Slaveholding Atlantic Stefan M. Wheelock

In an interdisciplinary study of black intellectual history at the dawn of the nineteenth century, Stefan M. Wheelock shows how black antislavery writers were able to counteract ideologies of white supremacy while fostering a sense of racial community and identity. The major figures he... More


Bridges to Memory

Postmemory in Contemporary Ethnic American Women's Fiction Maria Rice Bellamy

Tracing the development of a new genre in contemporary American literature that was engendered in the civil rights, feminist, and ethnic empowerment struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, Bridges to Memory shows how these movements authorized African American and ethnic American women writers to... More


Reading Trauma Narratives

The Contemporary Novel and the Psychology of Oppression Laurie Vickroy

As part of the contemporary reassessment of trauma that goes beyond Freudian psychoanalysis, Laurie Vickroy theorizes trauma in the context of psychological, literary, and cultural criticism. Focusing on novels by Margaret Atwood, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, and... More


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