Bookshelf

A Bibliographical Description of Books and Pamphlets of American Verse Printed from 1610-1820
Roger Stoddard

(2012). The culmination of five decades of research, this monumental work of descriptive bibliography, containing entries for more than 1,300 editions, assembles by date of printing the corpus of poetry composed and printed in the United States of America in books and pamphlets up through 1820.

A New Literary History of America
Ed. Werner Sollors, Greil Marcus

(2009). America is a nation making itself up as it goes along—a story of discovery and invention unfolding in speeches and images, letters and poetry, unprecedented feats of scholarship and imagination. In these myriad, multiform, endlessly changing expressions of the American experience, the authors and editors of this volume find a new American history.

Belmont: Poems
Stephen Burt

(2013). In Belmont, Stephen Burt maps out the joys and the limits of the life he has chosen, the life that chose him, examining and reimagining parenthood, marriage, adulthood, and suburbia alongside a brace of wild or pretty alternatives, and the real life to which he returns, with his family, driving home in an ode-worthy silver Subaru.

Black
George Elliott Clarke

(2006) “Black is a brilliant and fiery look at race and culture. Its genesis is Clark’s time at Duke University in the late ’90s; that experience unleashed political and personal outrage. This poetry is white-hot with honesty and anger. It is shocking, transgressive-and ultimately transforming.”

Blessed and Beautiful: Picturing the Saints
Robert Kiely

(2010). This book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the lives of the saints and the images of them painted by Renaissance artists in Italy. Robert Kiely has a keen eye and uncanny ability to capture details of significance and to prompt the reader to look again and to see with fresh eyes that the lives of saints and the Renaissance depictions of them are anything but dull, uniform, or narrowly orthodox.

Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and Its Reformation Opponents
James Simpson

(2010). The evidence is everywhere: fundamentalist reading can stir passions and provoke violence that changes the world. Amid such present-day conflagrations, this illuminating book reminds us of the sources, and profound consequences, of Christian fundamentalism in the sixteenth century.

Close Calls with Nonsense
Stephen Burt

(2009). Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense provokes readers into the elliptical worlds of Rae Armantrout, Paul Muldoon, C. D. Wright, and other contemporary poets whose complexities make them challenging, original, and, finally, readable.

Cooked
Michael Pollan

(2013) In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth— to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink.

Corpus Christi
Bret Johnston

(2005) A car accident joins strangers linked by an intimate knowledge of madness. A teenage boy remembers his father’s act of sudden and self-righteous violence. A “hurricane party” reunites a couple whom tragedy parted. And, in an unforgettable three-story cycle, an illness sets in profound relief a man’s relationship with his mother and the odd, shifting fidelity of truth to love.

Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History
Brian Cummings, James Simpson

(2010). The deepest periodic division in English literary history has been between the Medieval and the Early Modern. Both periods are starting to look different in dialogue with each other, but the change underway has yet to find collected voices behind it. Cultural Reformations aims to provide those voices.

Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity
Gordon Teskey

(2009). The argument of Delirious Milton, inspired in part by the architectural theorist Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York, is that Milton’s creative power is drawn from a rift at the center of his consciousness over the question of creation itself.

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries
Helen Vendler

(2012). Vendler turns her illuminating skills as a critic to 150 selected poems of Emily Dickinson. In selecting these poems Vendler chooses to exhibit many aspects of Dickinson’s work as a poet, “from her first-person poems to the poems of grand abstraction, from her ecstatic verses to her unparalleled depictions of emotional numbness, from her comic anecdotes to her painful poems of aftermath.”

Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form
Hillary Chute

(2016) In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, comics display a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Investigating how hand-drawn comics has come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war.

Dream in Shakespeare: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis
Marjorie Garber

(2013). Drawing on the works of Freud and other psychologists, but basing its argument on the language and dramatic structure of the plays themselves, Dream in Shakespeare presents a coherent and innovative reading of the plays and their developing concept of dream.

Dream Of The Unified Field
Jorie Graham

(1997). The 1996 Pulitzer winner in poetry and a major collection, Jorie Graham’s The Dream of the United Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 spans twenty years of writing and includes generous selections from her first five books: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, ErosionThe End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness, and Materialism.

Environment: An Interdisciplinary Anthology
James Engell

(2008). This major anthology is the first to apply a fully interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies. A comprehensive guide to environmental literacy, the book demonstrates how the sciences, social sciences, and humanities all contribute to understanding our interrelationships with the natural world.

Ethnic Modernism
Werner Sollors

(2008).  In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States moved from the periphery to the center of global cultural production. At the same time, technologies of dissemination evolved rapidly, and versions of modernism emerged as dominant art forms. How did African American, European immigrant, and other minority writers take part in these developments that also transformed the United States, giving it an increasingly multicultural self-awareness?

Evasions
Dan Albright, Peter Sacks (artwork)

(2012). Daniel Albright gathers parables, poems, dreams, translations, written during a three-year period following the death of his father. Accompanied by artwork by the poet and artist Peter Sacks, the cahier is an attempt to translate private experiences into something with public meaning.

Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered Their Pasts
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2010). Faces of America unfolds as a riveting journey into our country’s complex ancestral past. America, as Gates shows us, is a nation of many historical threads, interwoven and united in the present moment. In this compelling book, Gates demonstrates that where we come from profoundly and fundamentally informs who we are today.

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
John Stauffer

(2008) In this masterful dual biography of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, John Stauffer describes the transformations in the lives of these two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformed America.

Goats: A Novel
Mark Poirier

(2001) In Goats, novelist Mark Jude Poirier brings us an oddly compelling story of two men, one a teenager, the other about 40, both committed adolescents. Fourteen-year-old Ellis lives with his mom in suburban Tucson, Arizona. Goat Man is, for lack of a better definition, their pool man.

Golden Country
Jennifer Gilmore

(2007) Golden Country vividly brings to life the intertwining stories of three immigrants seeking their fortunes: the handsome and ambitious Seymour, a salesman turned gangster turned Broadway producer; the gentle and pragmatic Joseph, a door-to-door salesman who is driven to invent a cleanser effective enough to wipe away the shame of his brother’s mob connections; and the irresistible Frances Gold, who grows up in Brooklyn, stars in Seymour’s first show, and marries the man who invents television.

Hegel Lectures: Our Neighbours, Ourselves
Homi K. Bhabha

(2011). In his talk, Bhabha evokes the spirit of Hegel in an attempt to understand contemporary issues of ethical witness, historical memory and the rights and representations of minorities in the cultural sphere.

How Fiction Works
James Wood

(2009). The book asks “some of the essential questions about the art of fiction. Is realism real? How do we define a successful metaphor? What is character? When do we recognize a brilliant use of detail in fiction? What is point of view, and how does it work? What is imaginative sympathy? Why does fiction move us?

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
Leah Price

(2012). Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.

I & I
George Elliott Clarke

(2009) I & I smolders with love, lust, violence, and the excruciating repercussions of racism, sexism, and disgust. Rastafarian for “you and me,” I & I expresses the oneness of God and man, the oneness of two people or the distinction between body and spirit.

In Defense of Food
Michael Pollan

(2008) Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Intro to Alien Invasion: A Graphic Novel, with Owen King
Mark Poirier

(2015) In this wildly entertaining collaboration, novelists Owen King and Mark Jude Poirier team up with illustrator Nancy Ahn to present a wickedly funny graphic novel about an alien invasion on a college campus.

Islandology
Marc Shell

(2014).  Islandology is a fast-paced, fact-filled comparative essay in critical topography and cultural geography that cuts across different cultures and argues for a world of islands. Written by Shell in view of the melting of the world’s great ice islands, Islandology shows not only new ways that we think about islands but also why and how we think by means of them.

Jacob’s Cane
Elisa New

(2011). Drawn to an image of her great-grandfather’s ornately carved cane, scholar Elisa New embarked on a journey to discover the origins of her precious family heirloom. Treading back across the paths of her ancestors, she travels from Baltimore to the Baltic to London in order to find and understand an immigrant world profoundly affected by modern German culture, from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust.

Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and Devotees
Deidre Shauna Lynch

(2000). Rather than lament the fact that Austen today shares the headlines with her readers, the contributors to this collection inquire into why this is the case, ask what Janeites do, and explore the myriad appropriations of Austen–adaptations, reviews, rewritings, and appreciations–that have been produced since her lifetime.

John Hardyng, Chronicle: Edited from the British Library MS Lansdowne 204
James Simpson

(2015) One of a handful of texts from the last years of Henry VI’s reign, John Hardyng’s first Chronicle, written in 18,782 lines of verse and seven folios of prose, offers a compelling insight into the tastes, hopes, and anxieties of a late fifteenth century gentleman who witnessed — and often participated in — the key events that defined his era.

John of Morigny. Liber florum celestis doctrineThe Flowers of Heavenly Teaching: Studies and Texts
Nicholas Watson

(2015). This volume provides the first edition and systematic study of the Liber florum celestis doctrineby the Benedictine John of Morigny. Until recently this work was known only through a chronicle report of its burning at Paris in 1323, on the grounds that it revived a condemned ritual called the Ars notoria. However, it survives in three versions in more than twenty copies from across Europe, few of which indicate doubt as to its orthodoxy.

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World
Leo Damrosch

(2013). In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift’s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift’s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift’s public version of his life—the one accepted until recently—was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets.

Lady Godiva: A Literary History of the Legend
Daniel Donoghue

(2002). This book investigates who Lady Godiva was, how the story of her naked horseback ride through Coventry arose, and how the whole Godiva legend has evolved from the thirteenth century through to the present day.

Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill
Helen Vendler

(2010). Helen Vendler examines the ways in which five great modern American poets, writing their final books, try to find a style that does justice to life and death alike. With traditional religious consolations no longer available to them, these poets must invent new ways to express the crisis of death, as well as the paradoxical coexistence of a declining body and an undiminished consciousness.

Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery
Glenda Carpio

(2008). Reassessing the meanings of “black humor” and “dark satire,” Laughing Fit to Kill illustrates how black comedians, writers, and artists have deftly deployed various modes of comedic “conjuring”—the absurd, the grotesque, and the strategic expression of racial stereotypes—to redress not only the past injustices of slavery and racism in America but also their legacy in the present.

Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2011). Life Upon These Shores focuses on defining events, debates, and controversies, as well as the signal achievements of people famous and obscure. Gates takes us from the sixteenth century through the ordeal of slavery, from the Civil War and Reconstruction through the Jim Crow era and the Great Migration; from the civil rights and black nationalist movements through the age of hip-hop to the Joshua generation.

Literary Secretaries / Secretarial Culture
Leah Price

(2005). Topics range from copyright law to voice recognition software, from New Women to haunted typewriters and from the history of technology to the future of information management. Together, the essays will provide literary critics with a new angle on current debates about gender, labour, and the material text, as well as a window into the prehistory of our information age.

Loving Literature: A Cultural History
Deidre Shauna Lynch

(2015). Of the many charges laid against contemporary literary scholars, one of the most common—and perhaps the most wounding—is that they simply don’t love books. And while the most obvious response is that, no, actually the profession of literary studies does acknowledge and address personal attachments to literature, that answer risks obscuring a more fundamental question: Why should they?

Mansfield Park
Ed. Diedre Shauna Lynch

(2016). Jane Austen’s most ambitious novel, Mansfield Park, has always generated debate. Austen herself noted that debate when she conducted a reader survey, recording her acquaintances’ mixed reviews in a booklet she entitled “Opinions of Mansfield Park.” In her notes and introduction to this final volume in Harvard’s celebrated annotated Austen series, Deidre Shauna Lynch outlines the critical disagreements Mansfield Park has sparked and suggests that Austen’s design in writing the novel was to highlight, not downplay, the conflicted feelings its plot and heroine can inspire.

Milton’s Latin Poems
David R. Slavitt, Gordon Teskey

(2011). While Milton is recognized as one of the most learned English poets in history, his Latin poetry is less well known. Slavitt’s careful rendering brings Milton’s Latin poems—many written in his late teens—into the present. Featuring an introduction by Gordon Teskey, this comprehensive English-language collection of Milton’s Latin poems pays due respect to a master.

Modern Ranch Living: A Novel
Mark Poirier

(2005) Funny and disturbing, Modern Ranch Living probes the emptiness of modern American culture, the strange things people do to satisfy their twin hungers for pleasure and oblivion, and the unexpected small acts of kindness they can sometimes perform to ease one another’s pain.

Morton W. Bloomfield Lectures: 1989-2005
Daniel Donoghue, James Simpson, Nicholas Watson, eds.

(2009). The idea for the Bloomfield Lectures was . . . [to] reflect to some extent Morton Bloomfield’s own wide and varied interests – in literature, in the history of philosophy, in language studies, in Judaic studies. The contents of the present volume show to what extent the lectures reflect this range; doubtless those lectures to come will reflect even more of the areas of study that Morton pursued.

Mr. Potter
Jamaica Kincaid

(2002). Jamaica Kincaid’s first obsession, the island of Antigua, comes vibrantly to life under the gaze of Mr. Potter, an illiterate taxi chauffeur who makes his living along the roads that pass through the only towns he has ever seen and the graveyard where he will be buried.

Music Speaks: On the Language of Opera, Dance, and Song
Dan Albright

(2009). These essays probe the problems of articulating the meaning(s) of music; how music and language interact; how text-setting highlights meter, theme, or ironic undertone; how a composition can behave as a critique of a previous work; and how one might rehabilitate underappreciated figures by showing that the very terms of invective used against them can also be seen as an indication of what is exciting in their work.

Naked Pueblo: Stories
Mark Poirier

(1999) Set in the suburbanized lower-middle-class Southwest, the 12 stories in Poirier’s debut collection inhabit a landscape dominated by fast food joints, thrift stores and outlet malls, typical interiors revealing unmade beds and weary guests dozing on couches, with crumbs scattered all around and the television blaring.

Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer
Bret Johnston

(2008) Interactive guide to the craft of narrative writing. From developing characters to building conflict, from mastering dialogue to setting the scene, Naming the World jump-starts your creativity with inspiring exercises that will have you scrambling for pen and paper.

Naming Thy Name: Cross Talk in Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Elaine Scarry

(2016). Naming Thy Name lays bare William Shakespeare’s devotion to a beloved whom he not only names but names repeatedly in the microtexture of the sonnets, in their architecture, and in their deep fabric, immortalizing a love affair.

Nation and Narration
Homi K. Bhabha

(1990) In his preface Bhabha writes, “Nations, like narratives, lose their origins in the myths of time and only fully encounter their horizons in the mind’s eye.” This volume confronts the realities of the concept of nationhood as it is lived and the profound ambivalence of language as it is written. A classic collection of essays providing an excellent introduction to the many different narrations of the “nation.”

Necessity: Poems
Peter Sacks

(2003) Through the lens of Peter Sacks’s actual journey from a strife-torn South Africa to a haunted and spiritually frayed America, Necessity travels from remembered heights unblemished by time’s weight, through deserts laden by the debris of our mad dreams—progress, conquest, salvation—to arrive at the waters of communal memory, values, and love.

New England Beyond Criticism: In Defense of Americas First Literature
Elisa New

(2014.) An exploration and defense of the prominence of New England’s literary tradition within the canon of American literature. Traces the impact of the literature of New England on the development of spirituality, community, and culture in America, and includes in-depth studies of work from authors and poets such as William Bradford, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Henry David Thoreau.

No Planets Strike
Josh Bell

(2008). No Planets Strike, the debut collection of poetry by Josh Bell, reads as a playfully serious record of modernity. Subversive in their treatment of the contemporary voice, broad in their subject matter, and often delightfully funny, the poems in this collection have a brilliant ear language.

O Wheel
Peter Sacks

(2000) O Wheel is a book of amazing delicacy, intricacy, and formal beauty that reveals terrifying truths. Its backdrop is an edgy mix of the intense violence of South Africa’s recent history, the personal struggles of the human soul for the rights to speak freely and to experience justice, and the expanse of the American literary landscape.

Old English Literature: A Short Introduction
Daniel Donoghue

(2004). This innovative and intriguing introduction to Old English literature is structured around what the author calls ‘figures’ from Anglo-Saxon culture: the Vow, the Hall, the Miracle, the Pulpit, and the Scholar.

On Beauty and Being Just
Elaine Scarry

(2001). For two decades or more in the humanities, various political arguments have been put forward against beauty: that it distracts us from more important issues; is the handmaiden of privilege; masks political interests. In On Beauty and Being Just Elaine Scarry not only defends beauty from the political arguments against it but argues that beauty indeed presses us toward a greater concern for justice.

Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form
Helen Vendler

(2007). The fundamental difference between rhetoric and poetry, according to Yeats, is that rhetoric is the expression of one’s quarrels with others while poetry is the expression (and sometimes the resolution) of one’s quarrel with oneself. This is where Helen Vendler’s Our Secret Discipline begins. Through exquisite attention to outer and inner forms, Vendler explores the most inventive reaches of the poet’s mind.

Patronizing the Arts
Marjorie Garber

(2008). Today, as in the past, artists need the funding, approval, and friendship of patrons whether they are individuals, corporations, governments, or nonprofit foundations. But as Patronizing the Arts shows, these relationships can be problematic, leaving artists “patronized”—both supported with funds and personal interest, while being condescended to for vocations misperceived as play rather than serious work.

Picturing Frederick Douglass
John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier

(2015) Picturing Frederick Douglass is a work that promises to revolutionize our knowledge of race and photography in nineteenth-century America. Teeming with historical detail, it is filled with surprises, chief among them the fact that neither George Custer nor Walt Whitman, and not even Abraham Lincoln, was the most photographed American of that century. In fact, it was Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the ex-slave turned leading abolitionist, eloquent orator, and seminal writer whose fiery speeches transformed him into one of the most renowned and popular agitators of his age.

Place: New Poems
Jorie Graham

(2012). In P L A C E, Graham explores the ways in which our imagination, intuition, and experience—increasingly devalued by a culture that regards them as “mere” subjectivity—aid us in navigating a world moving blindly towards its own annihilation and a political reality where the human person and its dignity are increasingly disposable.

Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology
Helen Vendler

(2009). Many students today are puzzled by the meaning and purpose of poetry. Poems, Poets, Poetry demystifies the form and introduces students to its artistry and pleasures, using methods that Helen Vendler has successfully used herself over her long, celebrated career. Guided by Vendler’s erudite yet down-to-earth approach, students at all levels can benefit from her authoritative instruction.

Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of Culture
Marc Shell

(2005) In Polio and Its Aftermath Marc Shell, himself a victim of polio, offers an inspired analysis of the disease. Part memoir, part cultural criticism and history, part meditation on the meaning of disease, Shell’s work combines the understanding of a medical researcher with the sensitivity of a literary critic. He deftly draws a detailed yet broad picture of the lived experience of a crippling disease as it makes it way into every facet of human existence.

Pragmatism: A Reader
Louis Menand

(1997). Pragmatism has been called America’s only major contribution to philosophy. But since its birth was announced a century ago in 1898 by William James, pragmatism has played a vital role in almost every area of American intellectual and cultural life, inspiring judges, educators, politicians, poets, and social prophets.

Profiling Shakespeare
Marjorie Garber

(2008). The title of Profiling Shakespeare is meant strongly in its double sense. These essays show the outline of a Shakespeare rather different from the man sought by biographers from his time to our own. They also show the effects, the ephemera, the clues and cues, welcome and unwelcome, out of which Shakespeare’s admirers and dedicated scholars have pieced together a vision of the playwright.

Remember Me Like This: A Novel
Bret Anthony Johnston

(2014). A gripping novel with the pace of a thriller but the nuanced characterization and deep empathy of some of the literary canon’s most beloved novels, Remember Me Like This introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.

Renaissance Suppliants
Leah Whittington

Renaissance Suppliants studies supplication as a social and literary event in the long European Renaissance. It argues that scenes of supplication are defining episodes in a literary tradition stretching back to Greco-Roman antiquity, taking us to the heart of fundamental questions of politics and religion, ethics and identity, sexuality and family

Rule of Law, Misrule of Men
Elaine Scarry

(2010). This book is a passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not. Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Elaine Scarry in Rule of Law, Misrule of Men offers a fierce defense of the people’s role as guarantor of our democracy.

Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money
James Engell

(2005). Since 1965 an increasing preoccupation with money has resulted in the inversion of its role in higher education, from a practical means to an end that crowds out all others. No longer do students and parents choose the best education that “money can buy.” Instead, they are faced with choosing which school will “buy them more money.” This comes as no surprise, as tuitions have doubled since 1985. Yet the question persists: at what real cost are we sending our students to college?

Sea Change
Jorie Graham

(2008). In Sea Change, Graham brings us to the once-unimaginable threshold at which civilization as we know it becomes unsustainable. How might the human spirit persist, caught between its abiding love of beauty, its acknowledgment of continuing injury and damage done, and the realization that the existence of a “future” itself may no longer be assured?

See Now Then
Jamaica Kincaid

(2013). This piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully, and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters—a mother, a father, and their two children, living in a small village in New England—as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future.

Selected Short Stories of D.H. Lawrence
James Wood

(1999). James Wood has selected fourteen of D. H. Lawrence’s stories that demonstrate clearly the breadth of Lawrence’s achievement in the shorter form. In a long introductory essay, “The Success of Failure: D. H. Lawrence’s Short Stories,” written especially for this Modern Library edition, Wood discusses Lawrence’s supremacy as a religious novelist who is also a modern writer with profound Romantic tendencies.

Shakespeare and Modern Culture
Marjorie Garber

(2009). Shakespeare has determined many of the ideas that we think of as “naturally” true: ideas about human character, individuality and selfhood, government, leadership, love and jealousy, men and women, youth and age. Marjorie Garber delves into ten plays to explore the interrelationships between Shakespeare and contemporary culture, from James Joyce’s Ulysses to George W. Bush’s reading list.

Shakespeare’s Freedom
Stephen Greenblatt

(2010). Shakespeare lived in a world of absolutes—of claims for the absolute authority of scripture, monarch, and God, and the authority of fathers over wives and children, the old over the young, and the gentle over the baseborn. With the elegance and verve for which he is well known, Stephen Greenblatt, author of the best-selling Will in the World, shows that Shakespeare was strikingly averse to such absolutes and constantly probed the possibility of freedom from them.

Site Reading: Fiction, Art, Social Form
David J. Alworth

(2016). Site Reading offers a new method of literary and cultural interpretation and a new theory of narrative setting by examining five sites–supermarkets, dumps, roads, ruins, and asylums–that have been crucial to American literature and visual art since the mid-twentieth century. Against the traditional understanding of setting as a static background for narrative action and character development, David Alworth argues that sites figure in novels as social agents.

Something Red
Jennifer Gilmore

(2010) In Washington, D.C., life inside the Goldstein home is as tumultuous as the shifting landscape of the times. It is 1979, and Benjamin is heading off to college and sixteen-year-old Vanessa is in the throes of a rocky adolescence. Sharon, a caterer for the Washington elite, ventures into a cultlike organization. And Dennis, whose government job often takes him to Moscow, tries to live up to his father’s legacy as a union organizer and community leader.

Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction
Philip Fisher

(2000). In this bold reinterpretation of American culture, Philip Fisher describes generational life as a series of renewed acts of immigration into a new world. Along with the actual flood of immigrants, technological change brings about an immigration of objects and systems, ways of life and techniques for the distribution of ideas. Still the New World makes a persuasive argument against the reduction of literature to identity questions of race, gender, and ethnicity.

Stutter
Marc Shell

(2006). In a book that explores the phenomenon of stuttering from its practical and physical aspects to its historical profile to its existential implications, Marc Shell plumbs the depths of this murky region between will and flesh, intention and expression, idea and word.

The Americanist
Daniel Aaron

(2007). The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard.

The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot
Leah Price

(2003). The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel brings together two traditionally antagonistic fields, book history and narrative theory, to challenge established theories of “the rise of the novel.” Covering British novelists from Richardson to George Eliot, this study asks why the epistolary novel disappeared, how the book review emerged, and how editors’ reproduction of old texts has shaped authors’ production of new ones.

The Art of the Sonnet
Stephen Burt

(2011). Few poetic forms have found more uses than the sonnet in English, and none is now more recognizable. It is one of the longest-lived of verse forms, and one of the briefest. A mere fourteen lines, fashioned by intricate rhymes, it is, as Dante Gabriel Rossetti called it, “a moment’s monument.” From the Renaissance to the present, the sonnet has given poets a superb vehicle for private contemplation, introspection, and the expression of passionate feelings and thoughts.

The Autobiography of My Mother: A Novel
Jamaica Kincaid

(1996). Powerful, disturbing, stirring, Jamaica Kincaid’s novel is the deeply charged story of a woman’s life on the island of Dominica. Xuela Claudette Richardson, the daughter of a Carib mother and a half-Scottish, half-African father, loses her mother to death the moment she is born and must find her way on her own.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On
John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis

(2012) In this sweeping study, John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis show how this Civil War tune has become an anthem for cause after radically different cause.

The Black Hearts of Men
John Stauffer

(2002) At a time when slavery was spreading and the country was steeped in racism, two white men and two black men overcame social barriers and mistrust to form a unique alliance that sought nothing less than the end of all evil. Drawing on the largest extant bi-racial correspondence in the Civil War era, John Stauffer braids together these men’s struggles to reconcile ideals of justice with the reality of slavery and oppression.

The Book Against God
James Wood

(2004). Thomas Bunting while neglecting his philosophy Ph.D. is secretly writing what he hopes will be his masterwork—a vast atheistic project. In despair over his failed career and failing marriage, Bunting is also enraged to near lunacy by his parents’ religiousness. When his father, a beloved parish priest, falls ill, Bunting returns to the village of his childhood. His hopes that this visit might enable him to talk honestly with his parents and sort out his life, are soon destroyed.

The Botany of Desire
Michael Pollan

(2001) In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a
similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato.

The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief
James Wood

(2000). Ranging in subject from Jane Austen to John Updike, this collection introduced American readers to a new kind of humanist criticism. Wood is committed to judging literature through its connection with the soul, its appeal to our appetites and identities, and he examines his subjects rigorously, without ever losing sight of the mysterious human impulse that has made these works valuable to generations of readers.

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Amy Hempel

(2007). Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. This celebrated volume gathers together her complete work — four short collections of stunning stories about marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation. With her inimitable compassion and wit, Hempel introduces characters who make choices that seem inevitable, and whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience.

The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism
James Engell

(1999). James Engell traces the evolution of the creative imagination, from its emergence in British empirical thought through its flowering in Romantic art and literature. The notion of a creative imagination, Engell shows, was the most powerful and important development of the eighteenth century. It grew simultaneously in literature, criticism, philosophy, psychology, religion, and science, attracting such diverse minds as Hobbes, Addison, Gerard, Goethe, Kant, and Coleridge.

The Dog of the Marriage
Amy Hempel

(2005) The Dog of the Marriage, Hempel’s fourth collection, is about sexual obsession, relationships gone awry, and the unsatisfied longings of everyday life.

The Drama of Ideas
Martin Puchner

(2010). Most philosophy has rejected the theater, denouncing it as a place of illusion or moral decay; the theater in turn has rejected philosophy, insisting that drama deals in actions, not ideas. Challenging both views, The Drama of Ideas shows that theater and philosophy have been crucially intertwined from the start.

The Dream of the Great American Novel
Lawrence Buell

(2014). The idea of “the great American novel” continues to thrive almost as vigorously as in its nineteenth-century heyday, defying 150 years of attempts to dismiss it as amateurish or obsolete. In this landmark book, the first in many years to take in the whole sweep of national fiction, Lawrence Buell reanimates this supposedly antiquated idea, demonstrating that its history is a key to the dynamics of national literature and national identity itself.

The Economy of Character
Deidre Shauna Lynch

At the start of the eighteenth century, talk of literary “characters” referred as much to letters and typefaces as it did to persons in books. Yet by the nineteenth century, characters had become the equals of their readers, friends with whom readers might spend time and empathize.

The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood

(2012). The Fun Stuff confirms Wood’s preeminence, not only as a discerning judge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel. In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches—that range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov—Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel.

The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2012). From his earliest work of literary-historical excavation in 1982, through his current writings on the history and science of African American genealogy, the essays collected here follow his path as historian, theorist, canon-builder, and cultural critic, revealing a thinker of uncommon breadth whose work is uniformly guided by the drive to uncover and restore a history that has for too long been buried and denied.

The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel
James Wood

(2005). In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches, James Wood effortlessly connects his encyclopedic, passionate understanding of the literary canon with an equally earnest and appreciative view of the most discussed authors writing today, including Franzen, Pynchon, Rushdie, DeLillo, Naipaul, David Foster Wallace, and Zadie Smith.

The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
Darcy Frey

(2004). Basketball on the playgrounds of Coney Island is much more than a game — for many young men it is their escape from a life of crime, poverty, and despair. Darcy Frey chronicles the aspirations of four of the neighborhood’s most promising players. What they have going for them is athletic talent, grace, and years of dedication. But working against them are woefully inadequate schooling, family circumstances that are often desperate, and the slick, brutal world of college athletic recruitment.

The Line’s Eye
Elisa New

(1999). Is American vision implicitly possessive, as a generation of critics contends? By viewing the American poetic tradition through the prism of pragmatism, Elisa New contests this claim. A new reading of how poetry “sees,” her work is a passionate defense of the power of the poem, the ethics of perception, and the broader possibilities of American sight.

The Location of Culture
Homi K. Bhabha

(1994). Rethinking questions of identity, social agency and national affiliation, Bhabha provides a working, if controversial, theory of cultural. In The Location of Culture, he uses concepts such as mimicry, interstice, hybridity, and liminality to argue that cultural production is always most productive where it is most ambivalent.

The Marketplace of Ideas
Louis Menand

(2010). What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects are required? Why are so many academics against the concept of interdisciplinary studies? Sparking a long-overdue debate about the future of American education, The Marketplace of Ideas argues that twenty-first-century professors and students are essentially trying to function in a nineteenth-century system, and that the resulting conflict threatens to overshadow the basic pursuit of knowledge and truth.

The Metaphysical Club
Louis Menand

(2002). The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Ma, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future Supreme Court justice; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about 9 months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea — an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.

The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses
Kevin Birmingham

(2015) The Most Dangerous Book tells the remarkable story surrounding Ulysses, from the first stirrings of Joyce’s inspiration in 1904 to the book’s landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933. Written for ardent Joyceans as well as novices who want to get to the heart of the greatest novel of the twentieth century,The Most Dangerous Book is a gripping examination of how the world came to say Yes to Ulysses.

The Mothers
Jennifer Gilmore

(2013) Jesse and Ramon are a loving couple, but after years spent unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, they turn to adoption, relieved to think that once they navigate the bureaucratic path to parent-hood they will have a happy ending. But nothing has prepared them for the labyrinthine process—for the many training sessions and approvals; for the constant advice from friends, strangers, and “experts”; for the birthmothers who contact them but don’t ultimately choose them; or even, most shockingly, for the women who call claiming they’ve chosen Jesse and Ramon but who turn out never to have been pregnant in the first place.

The Muses on Their Lunch Hour
Marjorie Garber

(2016). As a break from their ordained labors, what might the Muses today do on their lunch hour? This collection of witty, shrewd, and imaginative essays addresses interdisciplinary topics that range widely from Shakespeare, to psychoanalysis, to the practice of higher education today.

The Norton Anthology of Drama
Martin Puchner (ed.)

(2009). The Norton Anthology of Drama offers sixty-five major plays—including three twentieth-century plays not available in any other drama anthology—the most carefully prepared introductions, annotations, and play texts, and a convenient two-volume, one-column format for ease of reading and carrying.

The Norton Anthology of World Literature (Third Edition)
Martin Puchner (ed.)

(2012). Read by millions of students since its first publication, The Norton Anthology of World Literature remains the most-trusted anthology of world literature available. Guided by the advice of more than 500 teachers of world literature and a panel of regional specialists, the editors of the Third Edition—a completely new team of scholar-teachers—have made this respected text brand-new in all the best ways.

The Novel of Purpose: Literature and Social Reform in the Anglo-American World
Amanda Claybaugh

(2006). In the nineteenth century, Great Britain and the United States shared a single literary marketplace that linked the reform movements, as well as the literatures, of the two nations. The writings of transatlantic reformers—antislavery, temperance, and suffrage activists—gave novelists a new sense of purpose and prompted them to invent new literary forms. The result was a distinctively Anglo-American realism, in which novelists, conceiving of themselves as reformers, sought to act upon their readers—and, through their readers, the world.

The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar
Helen Vendler

(2015). One of our foremost commentators on poetry examines the work of a broad range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century English, Irish, and American poets. The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar gathers two decades’ worth of Helen Vendler’s essays, book reviews, and occasional prose―including the 2004 Jefferson Lecture―in a single volume.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Michael Pollan

(2006) Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating. His absorbing narrative takes us from Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restaurants to organic farms and hunting grounds, always emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on.

The Orient and the Young Romantics
Andrew Warren

(2014). Through close readings of major poems, this book examines why the second-generation Romantic poets – Byron, Shelley, and Keats – stage so much of their poetry in Eastern or Orientalized settings. It argues that they do so not only to interrogate their own imaginations, but also as a way of criticizing Europe’s growing imperialism.

The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them
Stephen Burt

(2016). Contemporary American poetry has plenty to offer new readers, and plenty more for those who already follow it. Yet its difficulty—and sheer variety—leaves many readers puzzled or overwhelmed. The critic, scholar, and poet Stephen Burt sets out to help. Beginning in the early 1980s, where critical consensus ends, Burt canvasses American poetry of the past four decades, from the headline-making urgency of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen to the stark pathos of Louise Glück, the limitless energy of Juan Felipe Herrera, and the erotic provocations of D. A. Powell.

The Poetry of John Milton
Gordon Teskey

(2015) In this panoramic interpretation, the distinguished Milton scholar Gordon Teskey shows how the poet’s changing commitments are subordinated to an aesthetic that joins beauty to truth and value to ethics. The art of poetry is rediscovered by Milton as a way of thinking in the world as it is, and for the world as it can be.

The Racial Mundane | Asian Performance and the Embodied Everyday
Ju Yon Kim

(2015)  In The Racial Mundane, Ju Yon Kim argues that the ambiguous relationship between behavioral tendencies and the body has sustained paradoxical characterizations of Asian Americans as ideal and impossible Americans. The body’s uncertain attachment to its routine motions promises alternately to materialize racial distinctions and to dissolve them. Kim’s study focuses on works of theater, fiction, and film that explore the interface between racialized bodies and everyday enactments to reveal new and latent affiliations.

The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy
John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins

(2009).  In 1863, after surviving the devastating Battle of Corinth, Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Mississippi, deserted the Confederate Army and began a guerrilla battle against the Confederacy. For two years he and other residents of Jones County engaged in an insurrection that would have repercussions far beyond the scope of the Civil War.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Stephen Greenblatt

(2011). The Swerve is both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic (On the Nature of Things by Lucretius), plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s
Werner Sollors

(2014). Drawing on a vast array of American, German, and other sources–diaries, photographs, newspaper articles, government reports, essays, works of fiction, and film–Werner Sollors makes visceral the experiences of defeat and liberation, homelessness and repatriation, concentration camps and denazification.

The Vehement Passions
Philip Fisher

(2002). From Aristotle to contemporary biology, Fisher finds evidence that the passions have defined a core of human nature no less important than reason or desire. Traversing the Iliad, King Lear, Moby Dick, and other great works, he discerns the properties of the high-spirited states we call the passions. In reintroducing us to our own vehemence, Fisher reminds us that it is only through our strongest passions that we feel the contours of injustice, mortality, loss, and knowledge.

The Worst Years of Your Life: A Short Fiction Anthology, Editor
Mark Poirier

(2007) A delightful and terrifying collection of twenty short stories, edited by critically acclaimed writer and novelist Mark Jude Poirier.

The Writings Of Julian Of Norwich: A Vision Showed To A Devout Woman And A Revelation Of Love (Brepols Medieval Women)
Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins

(2005). Julian of Norwich (c. 1343-c. 1416) is the earliest woman writer of English we know about and is now widely recognized as one of the great speculative theologians of the Middle Ages. This book presents a new edition of her writings in Middle English, one that makes possible the serious study of her thought not just for students and scholars of Middle English but for those with little or no previous experience with the language.

Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom
Elaine Scarry

(2014). In this incisive, masterfully argued new book, award-winning social theorist Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon—a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War—deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

Thinking in an Emergency
Elaine Scarry

(2011). Elaine Scarry lays bare the realities of “emergency” politics and emphasizes what she sees as the ultimate ethical concern: “equality of survival.” She reveals how regular citizens can reclaim the power to protect one another and our democratic principles. Government leaders sometimes argue that the need for swift national action means there is no time for deliberation or debate. But Scarry shows that clear thinking and rapid action are not in opposition.

Tocqueville’s Discovery of America
Leo Damrosch

(2010).  Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America was the product of a young man’s open-minded experience of America at a time of rapid change. In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, the prizewinning biographer Leo Damrosch retraces Tocqueville’s nine-month journey through the young nation in 1831–1832, illuminating how his enduring ideas were born of imaginative interchange with America and Americans, and painting a vivid picture of Jacksonian America.

Trudeau: Long March, Shining Path
George Elliott Clarke

(2007). Trudeau, makes an irreverent, jubilant portrait of the life and politics of one of Canada’s most controversial political heroes, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Clarke’s poem provides a whimsical and informative look at the balance of world powers in the 1960s and 70s, infused with the spirit of the many revolutions taking place throughout the world during these years.

Under the Hammer: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition
James Simpson

(2011). When we think of breaking images, we assume that it happens somewhere else. We tend to look with horror on iconoclasm. This book argues instead that iconoclasm is a central strand of Anglo-American modernity. Our horror at the destruction of art derives in part from the fact that we too did, and still do, that. This is most obviously true of England’s iconoclastic century between 1538 and 1643.

Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Leah Price

(2011). Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books spotlights the personal libraries of thirteen novelists who share their collections with readers. It features the libraries of, and interviews with, Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Díaz, Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker, Lev Grossman and Sophie Gee, Jonathan Lethem, Claire Messud and James Wood, Philip Pullman, Gary Shteyngart, and Edmund White.

Unsung Heroes of American Industry: Stories
Mark Poirier

(2003) Worm farms, pearl-button making, chicken processing, pornography, and beauty pageantry. These quirky cottage industries hold the potential to make fortunes, though it’s more likely that they’ll lead to bankruptcy and shattered dreams. Mark Poirier introduces the misfits and visionaries who embody the aspirations – and frequently the lunacy – of the American entrepreneur.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt

(2005). Will in the World interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright’s life. We see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world, while at the same time grappling with dangerous religious and political forces.

William Wordsworth: The Prelude, 1805
Eds. James Engell and Michael D. Raymond

(2016).  Here, newly edited from the 1805 manuscripts held by The Wordsworth Trust, is an entirely new edition of The Prelude , the most resonant poem of the Romantic Era. Over the last 150 years this poetic autobiography has emerged as one of he most admired works in all of English literature and certainly as the pre-eminent long poem expressing a personal romantic spirit. It tells the story of the growth of imagination and love in the mind of one of the finest poets of the last 250 years.