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Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism Book List

Cover of 'The Novel of the Future'

The Novel of the Future
By Anaïs Nin
· Introduction by Deirdre Bair

In The Novel of the Future, Anaïs Nin explores the act of creation — in film, art, and dance as well as literature — to chart a new direction for the young artist struggling against what she perceived as the sterility, formlessness, and spiritual bankruptcy afflicting much of mid-twentieth-century fiction.

Cover of 'Melodramatic Imperial Writing'

Melodramatic Imperial Writing
From the Sepoy Rebellion to Cecil Rhodes
By Neil Hultgren

Melodrama is often seen as a blunt aesthetic tool tainted by its reliance on improbable situations, moral binaries, and overwhelming emotion, features that made it a likely ingredient of British imperial propaganda during the late nineteenth century. Yet, through its impact on many late-Victorian genres outside of the theater, melodrama developed a complicated relationship with British imperial discourse.

Cover of 'Religious Imaginaries'

Religious Imaginaries
The Liturgical and Poetic Practices of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Adelaide Procter
By Karen Dieleman

Religious Imaginaries explores liturgical practice as formative for how three Victorian women poets imagined the world and their place in it and, consequently, for how they developed their creative and critical religious poetics.

Cover of 'Charity and Condescension'

Charity and Condescension
Victorian Literature and the Dilemmas of Philanthropy
By Daniel Siegel

Charity and Condescension explores how condescension, a traditional English virtue, went sour in the nineteenth century, and considers the ways in which the failure of condescension influenced Victorian efforts to reform philanthropy and to construct new narrative models of social conciliation.

Cover of 'Dance of Life'

Dance of Life
The Novels of Zakes Mda in post-apartheid South Africa
By Gail Fincham

Dance of Life examines the five novels Zakes Mda—novelist, painter, composer, theater director and filmmaker—has written since South Africa’s transition to democracy: Ways of Dying (1995), The Heart of Redness (2000), The Madonna of Excelsior (2002), The Whale Caller (2005), and Cion (2007).

Cover of 'Meter Matters'

Meter Matters
Verse Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century
Edited by Jason David Hall

Across the nineteenth century, meter mattered—in more ways and to more people than we might well appreciate today. For the period’s poets, metrical matters were a source of inspiration and often vehement debate. And the many readers, teachers, and pupils encountered meter and related topics in both institutional and popular forms.

Cover of 'In the Shadows of Romance'

In the Shadows of Romance
Romantic Tragic Drama in Germany, England, and France
By Jeffrey N. Cox

In the Shadows of Romance examines the role of the tragedy in Germany, England and France during the romantic literary period. Cox responds to the prevailing dismissive view of the romantic tragic drama, effectively arguing for its place as expressions of the whole romantic movement and as a vital chapter in the history of Western literature.

Cover of 'Dancing out of Line'

Dancing out of Line
Ballrooms, Ballets, and Mobility in Victorian Fiction and Culture
By Molly Engelhardt

Dancing out of Line transports readers back to the 1840s, when the craze for social and stage dancing forced Victorians into a complex relationship with the moving body in its most voluble, volatile form.

Cover of 'Making Words Matter'

Making Words Matter
The Agency of Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
By Ambreen Hai

Why should Salman Rushdie describe his truth telling as an act of swallowing impure “haram” flesh from which the blood has not been drained? Why should Rudyard Kipling cast Kim, the imperial child–agent, as a body/text written upon and damaged by empire? Why should E. M. Forster evoke through the Indian landscape the otherwise unspeakable racial or homosexual body in his writing?

Cover of 'Making a Man'

Making a Man
Gentlemanly Appetites in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel
By Gwen Hyman

Gruel and truffles, wine and gin, opium and cocaine. Making a Man: Gentlemanly Appetites in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel addresses the role of food, drink, and drugs in the conspicuously consuming nineteenth century in order to explore the question of what makes a man of a certain class in novels of the period.

Cover of 'Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture'

Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture
The Making of a Legend
Edited by Joseph Bristow

Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend explores the meteoric rise, sudden fall, and legendary resurgence of an immensely influential writer’s reputation from his hectic 1881 American lecture tour to recent Hollywood adaptations of his dramas. Always renowned—if not notorious—for his fashionable persona, Wilde courted celebrity at an early age. Later, he came to prominence as one of the most talented essayists and fiction writers of his time.

Cover of 'Praising It New'

Praising It New
The Best of the New Criticism
Edited by Garrick Davis
· Foreword by William Logan

Marked by a rigorously close textual reading, detached from biographical or other extratextual material, New Criticism was the dominant literary theory of the mid-twentieth century. Since that time, schools of literary criticism have arisen in support of or in opposition to the approach advocated by the New Critics. Nonetheless, the theory remains one of the most important sources for groundbreaking criticism and continues to be a controversial approach to reading literature.

Cover of 'Cruising with Robert Louis Stevenson'

Cruising with Robert Louis Stevenson
Travel, Narrative, and the Colonial Body
By Oliver S. Buckton

Cruising with Robert Louis Stevenson: Travel, Narrative, and the Colonial Body is the first booklength study about the influence of travel on Robert Louis Stevenson’s writings, both fiction and nonfiction.

Cover of 'The  Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman'

The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A Dual-Text Critical Edition
Edited by Shawn St. Jean

Scholars have argued for decades over which constitutes the best possible version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s frequently anthologized story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Most editions have been based on the 1892 New England Magazine publication rather than the handwritten manuscript at Radcliffe College. Publication of the unedited manuscript in 1994 sparked controversy over which of the two was definitive.

Winner of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature/Ohio University Press Book Prize
Cover of 'The Midwestern Pastoral'

The Midwestern Pastoral
Place and Landscape in Literature of the American Heartland
By William Barillas

The midwestern pastoral is a literary tradition of place and rural experience that celebrates an attachment to land that is mystical as well as practical, based on historical and scientific knowledge as well as personal experience. It is exemplified in the poetry, fiction, and essays of writers who express an informed love of the nature and regional landscapes of the Midwest.