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Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism Book List

Cover of 'The Fin-de-Siècle Poem'

The Fin-de-Siècle Poem
English Literary Culture and the 1890s
Edited by Joseph Bristow

Featuring innovative research by emergent and established scholars, The Fin-de-Siècle Poem throws new light on the remarkable diversity of poetry produced at the close of the nineteenth century in England. Opening with a detailed preface that explains why literary historians have frequently underrated fin-de-siècle poetry, the collection shows how a strikingly rich body of lyrical and narrative poems anticipated many of the developments traditionally attributed to Modernism.

Cover of 'Raising the Dust'

Raising the Dust
The Literary Housekeeping of Mary Ward, Sarah Grand, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman
By Beth Sutton-Ramspeck

Raising the Dust identifies a heretofore-overlooked literary phenomenon that author Beth Sutton-Ramspeck calls “literary housekeeping.” The three writers she examines rejected turn-of-the-century aestheticism and modernism in favor of a literature that is practical, even ostensibly mundane, designed to “set the human household in order.”

Cover of 'Inaugural Wounds'

Inaugural Wounds
The Shaping of Desire in Five Nineteenth-Century English Narratives
By Robert E. Lougy

Desire, Jacques Lacan suggests, is a condition or expression of our wounded nature. But because such desire is also unconscious, it can be expressed only indirectly, for what we consciously desire is hardly ever what we really want. Desire makes itself known, but disguises its presence—appearing, for example, in unconscious but repetitive, and sometimes even self-destructive, patterns of behavior.

Cover of 'Subjects on Display'

Subjects on Display
Psychoanalysis, Social Expectation, and Victorian Femininity
By Beth Newman

Subjects on Display explores a recurrent figure at the heart of many nineteenth-century English novels: the retiring, self-effacing woman who is conspicuous for her inconspicuousness. Beth Newman draws upon both psychoanalytic theory and recent work in social history as she argues that this paradoxical figure, who often triumphs over more dazzling, eye-catching rivals, is a response to the forces that made personal display a vexed issue for Victorian women.

Winner of the Northeast Modern Language Association/Ohio University Press Book Award
Cover of 'Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation'

Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation
By Julia M. Wright

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.

Cover of 'In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer'

In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer
Cultural Narrative and Redemption on the American Frontiers, 1830-1930
By Joel Daehnke

Westward expansion on the North American continent by European settlers generated a flurry of writings on the frontier experience over the course of a hundred years.

Cover of 'Writing Women in Central America'

Writing Women in Central America
Gender and the Fictionalization of History
By Laura Barbas-Rhoden

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.

Cover of 'Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies'

Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies
Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market
By Mary Wilson Carpenter

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.

Cover of 'Vernon Lee'

Vernon Lee
Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual
By Christa Zorn

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.

Cover of 'Signs of Their Times'

Signs of Their Times
History, Labor, and the Body in Cobbett, Carlyle, and Disraeli
By John M. Ulrich

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.

Cover of 'Dark Smiles'

Dark Smiles
Race and Desire in George Eliot
By Alicia Carroll

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.

Cover of 'John Reed and the Writing of Revolution'

John Reed and the Writing of Revolution
By Daniel W. Lehman

John Reed (1887-1920) is best known as the author of Ten Days That Shook the World and as champion of the communist movement in the United States. Still, Reed remains a writer almost systematically ignored by the literary critical establishment, even if alternately vilified and lionized by historians and by films like Warren Beatty's Reds.

Cover of 'Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time'

Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time
Edited by Christine L. Krueger

We are a century removed from Queen Victoria's death, yet the culture that bears her name is alive and well across the globe. Not only is Victorian culture the subject of lively critical debate, but it draws widespread interest from popular audiences and consumers. Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time addresses the theme of the Victorians' continuing legacy and its effect on our own culture and perception of the world.

Cover of 'Christina Rossetti and Illustration'

Christina Rossetti and Illustration
A Publishing History
By Lorraine Janzen Kooistra

Readers do not always take into account how books that combine image and text make their meanings. But for the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti, such considerations were central. Christina Rossetti and Illustration maps the production and reception of Rossetti's illustrated poetry, devotional prose, and work for children, both in the author's lifetime and in posthumous twentieth-century reprints.

Cover of 'Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs'

Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs
Music as Social Discourse in the Victorian Novel
By Alisa Clapp-Itnyre

Music was at once one of the most idealized and one of the most contested art forms of the Victorian period. Yet this vitally important nineteenth-century cultural form has been studied by literary critics mainly as a system of thematic motifs. Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs positions music as a charged site of cultural struggle, promoted concurrently as a transcendent corrective to social ills and as a subversive cause of those ills.