Literary Studies Book List
A groundbreaking approach to studying not only cultural linguistics but also the cultural heritage of a historic time and place in America. It gives witness to the issues of race and class inherent in the way we write, speak, and think.
Once or twice in a generation a poet comes along who captures the essential spirit of the American Midwest and gives name to the peculiar nature that persists there. Like James Wright, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, and Jared Carter before him, Dan Lechay reshapes our imagination to include his distinct and profound vision of this undersung region.
Long famous as a political, social, and cultural gadfly, journalist and essayist H. L. Mencken was unafraid to speak his mind on controversial topics and to express his views in a deliberately provocative manner. Mencken was prolific; much of his best work lies buried in the newspapers and magazines in which it originally appeared.
William Blake’s reputation as a staunch individualist is based in large measure on his repeated attacks on institutions and belief systems that constrain the individual’s imagination. Blake, however, rarely represents isolation positively, suggesting that the individual’s absolute freedom from communal pressures is not the ideal.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, England became quite literally a world on wheels. The sweeping technological changes wrought by the railways, steam-powered factory engines, and progressively more sophisticated wheeled conveyances of all types produced a corresponding revolution in Victorian iconography: the image of the wheel emerged as a dominant trope for power, modernity, and progress.
James Cummins’s first book of poems, The Whole Truth, became known throughout much of the poetry world as the “Perry Mason sestinas.” His second book, Portrait in a Spoon, was chosen by Richard Howard for the James Dickey Prize Contemporary Poetry Series. His latest and most accomplished work is collected in Then and Now, which reflects the same inventiveness and wit evident in his earlier books, with a deepening of tone and spirit.
Switzerland: A Village History is an account of an Alpine village that illuminates the broader history of Switzerland and its rural, local underpinnings. It begins with the colonization of the Alps by Romanized Celtic peoples who came from the plain to clear the wilderness, establish a tiny monastic house, and create a dairy economy that became famous for its cheeses.
Something other than a memoir of a life well lived, Body Story conveys Julia K. De Pree's troubling journey from adolescence to adulthood and from anorexia to health. For De Pree, between being a girl and being a woman, there was starvation. Body Story is her intimate account of girlhood, virginity, anorexia, and motherhood. De Pree's prose is spare and unguarded, revealing in vivid flashbacks and poignant vignettes the sources of her inner pain.
What is the relationship between history and fiction in a place with a contentious past? And of what concern is gender in the telling of stories about that past? Writing Women in Central America explores these questions as it considers key Central American texts. This study analyzes how authors appropriate history to confront the rhetoric of the state, global economic powers, and even dissident groups within their own cultures.
Gabriela Mistral is the only Latin American woman writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Even so, her extraordinary achievements in poetry, narrative, and political essays remain largely untold. Gabriela Mistral: The Audacious Traveler explores boldly and thoughtfully the complex legacy of Mistral and the way in which her work continues to define Latin America.
In her startling collection of short stories, Broken Lives and Other Stories, Anthonia C. Kalu creates a series of memorable characters who struggle to hold displaced but dynamic communities together in a country that is at war with itself. Broken Lives and Other Stories presents a portrait of the ordinary women, children, and men whose lives have been battered by war in their homeland.
There is currently in Madagascar a rich literary production (short stories, poetry, novels, plays) that has not yet reached the United States for lack of diffusion outside the country. Until recently, Madagascar suffered from political isolation resulting from its breakup with France in the 1970s and the eighteen years of Marxism that followed.
What is the relationship between history and fiction in a place with a contentious past? And of what concern is gender in the telling of stories about that past? After the first blizzard of an early winter, a Mennonite college girl with a troubled past appears curled up and bloodied outside the offce of her childhood psychiatrist. Mute for many years as a child, Martha Lehman is again not talking.
Of the many literary phenomena that sprang up in eighteenth-century England and later became a staple of Victorian culture, one that has received little attention until now is the “Family Bible with Notes.” Published in serial parts to make it affordable, the Family Bible was designed to enhance the family's status and sense of national and imperial identity.
Contemporaries were shocked when author Mary Noailles Murfree revealed she was a woman, but modern readers may be more surprised by her cogent discussion of community responses to unwanted development. Effie Waller Smith, an African American woman writing of her love for the Appalachian mountains, wove discussions of women's rights, racial tension, and cultural difference into her Appalachian poetry.
A radical abolitionist and early feminist, Francis George Shaw (1809–1882) was a prominent figure in American reform and intellectual circles for five decades. He rejected capitalism in favor of a popular utopian socialist movement; during the Civil War and Reconstruction, he applied his radical principles to the Northern war effort and to freedmen's organizations. A partnership with Henry George in the late 1870s provided an international audience for Shaw's alternative vision of society.
The subject of renewed interest among literary and cultural scholars, Vernon Lee wrote more than forty books, in a broad range of genres, including fiction, history, aesthetics, and travel literature. Early on, Lee established her reputation as a public critic whose unconventional viewpoints stood out among those of her contemporaries.
Samuel Crowl's Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era is the first thorough exploration of the fifteen major Shakespeare films released since the surprising success of Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989). Crowl presents the rich variety of these films in the “long decade: between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.”
In Victorian England, virtually all women were taught to sew; needlework was allied with images of domestic economy and with traditional female roles of wife and mother- with home rather than factory. The professional seamstress, however, labored long hours for very small wages creating gowns for the upper and middle classes.
“I imagine everyone has a center of gravity,” says Ellen Bromfield Geld. “Something which binds one to the earth and gives sense and direction to what one does.” For Ellen, this center is a writing table before a window that looks out upon groves of pecan trees and mahogany-colored cattle in seas of grass. The place is Fazenda Pau D’Alho, Brazil, where she and her husband, Carson, have lived and farmed since 1961.
In seventeen volumes, copublished with Baylor University, this acclaimed series features annotated texts of all of Robert Browning’s known writing. The series encompasses autobiography as well as influences bearing on Browning’s life and career and aspects of Victorian thought and culture. Volume XIV of The Complete Works of Robert Browning records a transition in the poet's career.
Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot's problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.
From the 1820s through the 1840s, debate raged over what Thomas Carlyle famously termed “the Condition of England Question.” While much of the debate focused on how to remedy the material sufferings of the rural and urban working classes, for three writers in particular--William Cobbett, Thomas Carlyle, and Benjamin Disraeli--the times were marked by an even more pervasive crisis that threatened not only the material lives of workers, but also the very stability of meaning itself.
Wyeth People is the story of one writer's search for the meaning of artistic creativity, approached from personal contact with the work of one of the world's great artists, Andrew Wyeth. In the 1960s, just beginning his career as a writer, Gene Logsdon read a magazine article about Andrew Wyeth in which the artist commented at length on his own creative impulse.
One-Smoke Stories is a collection of folk tales from Native American, Spanish Colonial, mestizo, and European American peoples of the Southwest retold in the enthralling words of one of the bestselling writers of her day, Mary Austin. One-Smoke Stories introduces us to a multicultural treasury of character types: lovers, hunters, bandits, shepherds, miners, ranchers, homesteaders, missionaries, government offcials, and supernatural beings.
Howard Nemerov—Poet Laureate of the United States, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets—was one of the most prolific and significant American poets of the twentieth century. By the time of his death in 1991, he had published fourteen collections of poetry.
The poems in One Unblinking Eye cast a steady and serious gaze at life outside the beltways. Whether testifying at a prayer meeting in Indiana, tramping the backwoods of northern New England, or working on an oil derrick in the Gulf, the inhabitants of these poems live on the margins of society. “They are the left-behind, odd-manneredones/Who speak in starts,” Norman Williams writes of the last residents of a West Virginia mining town.
Peter Rose has spent a lifetime exploring patterns of culture, examining issues of race and ethnicity, working with refugees, teaching sociology, and roaming the world. In Guest Appearances and Other Travels in Time and Space, he reflects on his adventures and the formative experiences that led him to a fascination with lives that seem quite unlike our own.