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Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism Book List

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 '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.Imperial

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.To

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.Lorraine

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 '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.John

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.

Cover of 'Edmund Wilson, the Man in Letters'

Edmund Wilson, the Man in Letters
By Edmund Wilson
· Edited by David Castronovo and Janet Groth

Among the major writers of the Hemingway and Fitzgerald generation, Edmund Wilson defied categorization. He wrote essays, stories and novels, cultural criticism, and contemporary chronicles, as well as journals and thousands of letters about the literary life and his own private world. Here for the first time in print is Wilson’s personal correspondence to his parents, lovers and wives, children, literary comrades, and friends from the different corners of his life.

Cover of 'Collisions with History'

Collisions with History
Latin American Fiction and Social Science from “El Boom” to the New World Order
By Frederick M. Nunn

Latin American intellectuals have traditionally debated their region’s history, never with so much agreement as in the fiction, commentary, and scholarship of the late twentieth century. Collisions with History shows how “fictional histories” of discovery and conquest, independence and early nationhood, and the recent authoritarian past were purposeful revisionist collisions with received national versions.

Cover of 'The Rescue of Romanticism'

The Rescue of Romanticism
Walter Pater and John Ruskin
By Kenneth Daley

Valuable and timely in its long historical and critical perspective on the legacy of romanticism to Victorian art and thought, The Rescue of Romanticism is the first book-length study of the close intellectual relationship between Walter Pater and John Ruskin, the two most important Victorian critics of art.

Cover of 'Ayi Kwei Armah, Radical Iconoclast'

Ayi Kwei Armah, Radical Iconoclast
Pitting the Imaginary Worlds against the Actual
By Ode Ogede

Ghanaian novelist, essayist, and short-story writer Ayi Kwei Armah has won international recognition as one of Africa’s most articulate writers. In this book, Ode Ogede argues that previous critics have misinterpreted the aesthetic and literary influences that have shaped Armah’s artistic vision and overlooked his most significant and valuable contribution to the problems of writing “outside the prison-house of conventional English.”Professor

Cover of 'Transcendental Wordplay'

Transcendental Wordplay
America’s Romantic Punsters and the Search for the Language of Nature
By Michael West

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, America was captivated by a muddled notion of “etymology.” New England Transcendentalism was only one outcropping of a nationwide movement in which schoolmasters across small-town America taught students the roots of words in ways that dramatized religious issues and sparked wordplay.Shaped by this ferment, our major romantic authors shared the sensibility that Friedrich Schlegel linked to punning and christened “romantic irony.”

Cover of 'Pebbles, Monochromes and Other Modern Poems, 1891–1916'

Pebbles, Monochromes and Other Modern Poems, 1891–1916
By W. D. Howells
· Edited by Edwin Cady

Metaphysical, agnostic, and ironic with a modernist voice.

Cover of 'Value and Vision in American Literature'

Value and Vision in American Literature
Essays in Honor of Ray Lewis White
Edited by Joseph Candido

The widely divergent voices in this collection are united by their common interest in the American literary heritage and by their intention to redefine that heritage by altering our angle of vision or forcing us to re-examine some traditional values.

Cover of 'Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors'

Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors
The Poetics of the Public and the Personal
By William Doreski

In the two decades that have passed since Robert Lowell’s death, Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors is the first critical survey of the poet’s aesthetic efforts to make personal vision and public exhortation cohere and thus combine poetic genres that have been historically discrete.Rather

Cover of 'Virginia Woolf'

Virginia Woolf
Reading the Renaissance
Edited by Sally Greene

The story of “Shakespeare’s sister” that Virginia Woolf tells in A Room of One’s Own has sparked interest in the question of the place of the woman writer in the Renaissance. By now, the process of recovering lost voices of early modern women is well under way. But Woolf’s engagement with the Renaissance went deeper than that question indicates, as important as it was.

Cover of 'Es’kia Mphahlele'

Es’kia Mphahlele
Themes of Alienation and African Humanism
By Ruth Obee

“If you really want to understand South Africa, read black African writers. Read Es‘kia Mphahlele,” is the advice proffered to diplomats and scholars by professor and publisher Donald Herdeck.The irony is that in the past, many of Mphahlele’s works were out of print or banned under censorship laws in South Africa from the early 1950s on.

Cover of 'Ruskin’s Mythic Queen'

Ruskin’s Mythic Queen
Gender Subversion in Victorian Culture
By Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

John Ruskin’s prominence as the author of “Of Queen’s Gardens,” his principal statement of Victorian gender opposition, makes him an ideal example for analyzing the power of mythic discourse to undermine gender division. Here, Ruskin creates a vision of feminine authority that draws simultaneously upon several sources (including the goddess Athena and Queen Victoria herself) to empower women in a worldwide arena redefined as a broader version of their domestic realm.

Cover of 'A Paris Year'

A Paris Year
Dorothy and James T. Farrell, 1931–1932
By Edgar Marquess Branch

The Depression that follows the 1929 stock market crash is emptying Paris of many American expatriates. Two exceptions are Dorothy and James T. Farrell, the naïve young couple who have fled their home in Chicago for the fabled liberation that Paris seems to offer.In this telling account drawn from interviews, diaries, and letters home, Edgar Marquess Branch presents a composite view of the life of a young author yet to complete his masterpiece, Studs Lonigan.

Cover of 'Shakespeare in Production'

Shakespeare in Production
Whose History?
By H. R. Coursen

Shakespeare in Production examines a number of plays in context. Included are the 1936 Romeo and Juliet, unpopular with critics of filmed Shakespeare, but very much a “photoplay” if its time; the opening sequences of filmed Hamlets which span more than seventy years; The Comedy of Errors on television, where production of this script is almost impossible; and the Branagh Much Ado About Nothing, a “popular” film discussed in the context of comedy as a genre.In

Cover of 'José María Arguedas'

José María Arguedas
Reconsiderations for Latin American Studies
Edited by Ciro A. Sandoval and Sandra M. Boschetto-Sandoval

José María Arguedas (1911–1969) is one of the most important authors to speak to issues of the survival of native cultures. José María Arguedas: Reconsiderations for Latin American Cultural Studies presents his views from multiple perspectives for English-speaking audiences for the first time.The

Cover of 'Under Criticism'

Under Criticism
Essays for William H. Pritchard
Edited by David Sofield and Herbert F. Tucker

American literary life has been enriched over the past generation by habits of criticism practiced at Amherst College during the tenure of William H. Pritchard. These essays, which were commissioned as a tribute to Pritchard, celebrate his fortieth year at Amherst and demonstrate the breadth of his influence in the fields of theory, criticism, and pedagogy.The

Cover of 'Haunted by Waters'

Haunted by Waters
Fly Fishing in North American Literature
By Mark Browning

Four essential questions: Why does one fish? How should one properly fish? What relations are created in fishing? And what effects does fishing have on the future? Haunted by Waters is a self-examination by the author as he constructs his own narrative and tries to answer these questions for himself. But it is also a thorough examination of the answers he uncovers in the course of reading what’s been written on the subject.As

Cover of 'Writing in Disguise'

Writing in Disguise
Academic Life in Subordination
By Terry Caesar

Writing in Disguise is a series of increasingly personal essays that both discuss and dramatize through firsthand experience the significance of subordination in academic life, in terms of issues and structures but above all in terms of texts. Some are written: memos, rejection letters, even resignation letters. Some are not: anecdotes, protests, jokes, parodies.All

Cover of 'America’s Sketchbook'

America’s Sketchbook
The Cultural Life of a Nineteenth-Century Literary Genre
By Kristie Hamilton

America’s Sketchbook recaptures the drama of nineteenth-century American cultural life, placing at its center a genre—the literary sketch—more available than the novel, less governable by the critical establishment, and shot through with the tensions and types of local and national culture-making.

Cover of 'Resisting Regionalism'

Resisting Regionalism
Gender And Naturalism In American Fiction, 1885-1915
By Donna Campbell

When James Lane Allen defined the “Feminine Principle” and the “Masculine Principle” in American fiction for the Atlantic Monthly in 1897, he in effect described local color fiction and naturalism, two branches of realism often regarded as bearing little relationship to each other.

Cover of 'Trollope & Victorian Moral Philosophy'

Trollope & Victorian Moral Philosophy
By Jane Nardin

Since the publication of The Moral Trollope by Ruth apRoberts in 1971, literary critics have generally agreed that Trollope’s morality is worthy of study. apRoberts sees Trollope as an early exponent of “situation ethics,” a liberal moralist who believes that traditional principles must always bend to the circumstances of the particular case.

Cover of 'Robert Browning’s Rondures Brave'

Robert Browning’s Rondures Brave
By Michael Bright

Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi says that we may pass things a hundred times and never see them. One thing that Browning’s readers have passed without seeing, or at least without remarking upon, is the circular conclusion in so many of his poems. Some sixty poems (almost a third of them) have such conclusions. These sixty span his entire career and include both well-known and neglected poems.The