Faculty Bookshelf 2014-2015

Jane Austen’s Names: Riddles, Persons, Places

Jane Austen's Names

Margaret Doody
The John and Barbara Glynn Family Professor of Literature
In Jane Austen’s works, a name is never just a name. In fact, the names Austen gives her characters and places are as rich in subtle meaning as her prose itself. In Jane Austen’s Names, Doody offers a fascinating and comprehensive study of all the names of people and places—real and imaginary—in Austen’s fiction. Austen’s creative choice of names not only reveals her virtuosic talent for riddles and puns, but also picks up deep stories from English history. Doody shows how Austen’s names signal class tensions as well as regional, ethnic, and religious differences. Readers will gain a new understanding of Austen’s technique of creative anachronism, which plays with and against her skillfully deployed realism.

University of Chicago Press, 2015


How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems of David Antin

How Long is the Present

Edited by Stephen Fredman


Poet, performance artist, and critic David Antin invented the “talk poem.” He insists that his poems be oral and created in front of a live audience, in a specific time and place, with the transcription of the performance adjusted for print by presenting it not in prose but in clumps of words without justified margins or punctuation, peppered with white spaces that indicate pauses. In this book, Fredman provides a critical introduction to a selection of talk poems from three out-of-print collections, accompanied by a new interview with the author. As Fredman points out, Antin’s work has influenced generations of experimental poets and prose writers. His profound and humorous talk poems are essential for classroom and scholarly discussions.


University of New Mexico Press, 2014

The Sugar Book

The Sugar Book

Johannes Göransson
Assistant Professor


“It’s as though his poetry takes us to the forest in Lars von Trier’s Anti-Christ, where it’s filmed, but then suddenly we find ourselves standing in front of a vanished movie theatre of our home. Göransson’s poetry is a film that Death peeks at, the scene of shooting the film, the film shot on a roll of film, the movie theatre, the Arcadia. A single poem is the world’s interior and exterior, it convulses wildly like an animal that has eaten the poem’s interior and exterior all together with silver. bang bang.” – South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon


Tarpaulin Sky, 2015

Politicizing Domesticity from Henrietta Maria to Milton’s Eve

Politicizing Domesticity

Laura Knoppers
Bringing together literary texts, political and household writings, and visual images, Politicizing Domesticity from Henrietta Maria to Milton’s Eve traces how the language of the domestic became a powerful and contested tool of political propaganda in representations of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell, and Milton’s Adam and Eve. Challenging previous binaries of public and private, political and domestic, Knoppers demonstrates that the domestication of the royal family image is an important and largely unrecognized legacy of the English Revolution. The study will appeal to scholars of political and cultural history, literature, book history and women’s studies.
Cambridge University Press, 2014 (paperback reprint)

The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults

The Necropastoral

Joyelle McSweeney
Associate Professor
In The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, poet Joyelle McSweeney presents an ecopoetics and a theory of Art that reflect such biological principles as degradation, proliferation, contamination, and decay. In these ambitious, bustling essays, McSweeney resituates poetry as a medium amid media; hosts “strange meetings” of authors, texts, and artworks across the boundaries of genre, period, and nation; and examines such epiphenomena as translation, anachronism, and violence. Through readings of artists as diverse as Wilfred Owen, Andy Warhol, Harryette Mullen, Roberto Bolaño, Aimé Césaire, and Georges Bataille, The Necropastoral shows by what strategies Art persists amid lethal conditions as a spectacular, uncanny force.
University of Michigan Press, 2014

John Thelwall and the Materialist Imagination

John Thelwall and the Materialist Imagination

Yasmin Solomonescu
Assistant Professor


Drawing on a range of new archival materials, John Thelwall and the Materialist Imagination reassesses Thelwall’s diverse body of work—literary, political, and elocutionary—from the vantage of his heterodox contributions to Romantic-era science. This book argues that Thelwall’s scientific materialism merged with his reformist politics and literary imagination in previously unexplored ways to anchor his career over four decades, as he attempted in speech and writing to catalyze democratic reform in the body politic. Solomonescu demonstrates that materialism was not merely a relic of Enlightenment empiricism and the utopian optimism of the 1790s, but a formative element of British culture well into the 19th century.


Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

Once Human: Stories

Once Human

Steve Tomasula


Once Human shows the ways to go beyond standard maps of simple understanding. A manga artist who is afraid that she herself is slipping into a cartoon version of life, a lab technician who makes art with the cloning technology she uses at work, a sociologist hunting for the gene that makes people want to take risks—these are some of the characters in Once Human. The map that emerges from these stories charts the territory of human longing and the failure of poetry, science, and technology to explain the “why” of the world, if not its “how.”


University of Alabama Press, 2014

Views of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt

Views of Nature

Edited by Laura Walls 
The William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English
With Stephen Jackson


Translated by Mark W. Person



While the influence of Alexander von Humboldt looms large over the natural sciences, his legacy reaches far beyond the field notebooks of naturalists. Von Humboldt’s research expedition to Central and South America with botanist Aimé Bonpland not only set the course for the great scientific surveys of the 19th century, but also served as raw material for his many volumes—works of both scientific rigor and aesthetic beauty that inspired such essayists and artists as Emerson, Goethe, Thoreau, Poe, and Frederic Edwin Church. Views of Nature, von Humboldt’s best-known and most influential work, has been unavailable in English for more than 100 years. This new translation is critical to the current revival of von Humboldt’s contributions to the humanities and sciences.


University of Chicago Press, 2014

The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens: Freethinking and the Crisis of Modernity

The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens

Henry Weinfield
Professor, Program of Liberal Studies; concurrent in Department of English
Blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter, has been central to English poetry since the Renaissance. It is the basic vehicle of Shakespeare’s plays and the form in which Milton chose to write Paradise Lost. Milton associated it with freedom, and the Romantics—connecting it in turn with freethinking—used it to explore change and confront modernity, sometimes in unexpectedly radical ways. Focusing on Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson and Stevens, Weinfield traces the philosophical and psychological struggles underlying these poets’ choice of form and genre, and the extent to which their work is influenced by other poets. Unusually attuned to echoes between poems, this study sheds new light on how important poetic texts unfold as works of art.
Cambridge University Press (paperback reprint), 2015