Department of English

University of Toronto

Q - S Bookshelf

Faculty Bookshelf - Alphabetical by Author's Surname 
Q | R | S


Oxford_Accra Ato Quayson 
Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism, Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. 

In Oxford Street, Accra, Ato Quayson analyzes the dynamics of Ghana's capital city through a focus on Oxford Street, part of Accra's most vibrant and globalized commercial district. He traces the city's evolution from its settlement in the mid-seventeenth century to the present day. He combines his impressions of the sights, sounds, interactions, and distribution of space with broader dynamics, including the histories of colonial and postcolonial town planning and the marks of transnationalism evident in Accra's salsa scene, gym culture, and commercial billboards. Quayson finds that the various planning systems that have shaped the city—and had their stratifying effects intensified by the IMF-mandated structural adjustment programs of the late 1980s—prepared the way for the early-1990s transformation of a largely residential neighborhood into a kinetic shopping district. With an intense commercialism overlying, or coexisting with, stark economic inequalities, Oxford Street is a microcosm of historical and urban processes that have made Accra the variegated and contradictory metropolis that it is today.

PostColonial Literature Ato Quayson 
The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature 2 Volume Set 
Cambridge University Press, 2012

Postcolonial studies is attentive to cultural differences, marginalisation and exclusion. Such studies pay equal attention to the lives and conditions of various racial minorities in the West, as well as to regional, indigenous forms of representation around the world as being distinct from a dominant Western tradition. With the consolidation of the field in the past forty years, the need to establish the terms by which we might understand the sources of postcolonial literary history is more urgent now than ever before. The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature is the first major collaborative overview of the field. A mix of geographic and thematic chapters allows for different viewpoints on postcolonial literary history. Chapters cover the most important national traditions, as well as more comparative geographical and thematic frameworks. This major reference work will set the future agenda for the field, whilst also synthesising its development for scholars and students.

Ato Quayson
Calibrations: Reading for the Social
Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2003

Proposes an entirely new socially and politically conscious way of reading.

Ato Quayson explores a practice of reading that oscillates rapidly between domains—the literary-aesthetic, the social, the cultural, and the political—in order to uncover the mutually illuminating nature of these domains. He does this not to assert the often repeated postmodernist view that there is nothing outside the text, but to outline a method of reading he calls calibrations: a form of close reading of literature with what lies beyond it as a way of understanding structures of transformation, process, and contradiction that inform both literature and society.

Quayson surveys a wide array of texts—ranging from Bob Marley lyrics, Toni Morrison’s work, Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, and Althusser’s reflections on political economy—and treats a broad range of themes: the comparative structures of alienation in literature and anthropology, cultural heroism as a trope in African society and politics, literary tragedy as a template for reading the life and activism of Ken Saro-Wiwa, trauma and the status of citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa, representations of physical disability, and the clash between enchanted and disenchanted time in postcolonial texts.

Aesthetic NervousnessAto Quayson
Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation
New York: Columbia University Press, 2007

Focusing primarily on the work of Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, and J. M. Coetzee, Ato Quayson launches a thoroughly cross-cultural, interdisciplinary study of the representation of physical disability. Quayson suggests that the subliminal unease and moral panic invoked by the disabled is refracted within the structures of literature and literary discourse itself, a crisis he terms "aesthetic nervousness." The disabled remind the able-bodied that the body is provisional and temporary and that normality is wrapped up in
certain social frameworks. Quayson expands his argument by turning to Greek and Yoruba writings, African American and postcolonial literature, depictions of deformed characters in early modern England and the plays of Shakespeare, and children's films, among other texts. He considers how disability affects interpersonal relationships and forces the character and the reader to take an ethical standpoint, much like representations of violence, pain, and the sacred. The disabled are also used to represent social suffering, inadvertently obscuring their true hardships.

African LiteratureAto Quayson
African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Literary Theory
(with Tejumola Olaniyan)
New York: Blackwell, 2007

This anthology gathers together of the best critical work on African literature and on larger questions of literary history, the sociology of literature, criticism and theory. It represents the a collection of the best that has been thought and written about African literary culture and the modern imagination.

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Locating_Destitute Stanka Radovic
Locating the Destitute: Space and Identity in Caribbean Fiction, 
University of Virginia Press, 2014

While postcolonial discourse in the Caribbean has drawn attention to colonialism’s impact on space and spatial hierarchy, Stanka Radović asks both how ordinary people as "users" of space have been excluded from active and autonomous participation in shaping their daily spatial reality and how they challenge this exclusion. In a comparative interdisciplinary reading of anglophone and francophone Caribbean literature and contemporary spatial theory, she focuses on the house as a literary figure and the ways that fiction and acts of storytelling resist the oppressive hierarchies of colonial and neocolonial domination. The author engages with the theories of Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, and contemporary critical geographers, in addition to selected fiction by V. S. Naipaul, Patrick Chamoiseau, Beryl Gilroy, and Rafaël Confiant, to examine the novelists’ construction of narrative "houses" to reclaim not only actual or imaginary places but also the very conditions of self-representation.

Radović ultimately argues for the power of literary imagination to contest the limitations of geopolitical boundaries by emphasizing space and place as fundamental to our understanding of social and political identity. The physical places described in these texts crystallize the protagonists’ ambiguous and complex relationship to the New World. Space is, then, as the author shows, both a political fact and a powerful metaphor whose imaginary potential continually challenges its material limitations.

Mothers & Other ClownsMagdalene Redekop
Mothers and Other Clowns: The Stories of Alice Munro
Routledge, 1992

This is the first study of the work of Alice Munro to focus on her obsession with mothering, and to relate it to the hallucinatory quality of her magic realism. A bizarre collection of clowning mothers parade across the pages of Munro's fiction, playing practical jokes, performing stunts, and dressing in thrift shop disguises that recycle vintage literary images. Paying close attention to their mimicries, Magdalene Redekop studies this parade with the aim of gaining increased understanding of Munro's evolving comic vision. As the outlines of her aesthetic are delineated, it becomes clear that it involves a new way of looking at autobiography and a new way of looking at narrative sequence. "A playful and learned reading of Munro's writing, that provokes anew the delight readers experience in the elusive complexity of both her subtle formal craft and her consistent moral, as well as aesthetic self-questioning. Engaged and engaging, this study makes both reading and storytelling--like mothering and clowning--into expressions of power and responsibility alike. Accept its invitation to a carnivalesque adventure in reading and writing, in the unresolvable pleasures and pains of living the processes of art."

John Reibetanz
The Essential John Reibetanz and Jeffery Donaldson
PQL, 2017

The Essential John Reibetanz provides a compelling view of the work of a deeply engaged poet whose exploratory syntax and probing imagery come together to form intense meditations on the nature of community and the transfigurative power of the imagination.

Midland SwimmerJohn Reibetanz
Midland Swimmer
Brick Books, 1996

This collection of poems, the author’s fourth, takes its impetus from the confrontation between civilization and nature imaged in its cover art, a photograph taken by William Notman in 1897. The photograph (like the poem based on it) depicts a woman in elaborate nineteenth-century costume staring into the hollow centre of a towering old-growth cedar in Stanley Park. She is a kind of midland swimmer, as she contemplates the inner ocean of the tree. Movement through the six sections of the collection as a whole (and in part through each section) is from country to city, from past to present, and from art to an attempt to unearth the art in life. One poem, “A Chain for Stephanie” – which juxtaposes experiences in classical Rome with those of the author’s childhood and his daughter’s – was a final selection for the 1995 National Magazine Awards in Poetry. Another, “The Call,” was among the winning entries for the League of Canadian Poets’ seventh national poetry competition.

Mining for SunJohn Reibetanz
Mining for Sun
Brick Books, 2000

Opening out to more narrative structures, this collection contains fewer poems than its immediate predecessor, but they are longer and more various. They are also more politically implicated, confronting such issues as the displacement of North American aboriginal peoples, child and urban poverty, and intolerance. Perhaps in response to such engagement, Mining for Sun was selected in May, 2001 as one of the six collections (out of over 150 considered) on the shortlist of the Re-Lit Awards.

Near RelationsJohn Reibetanz
Near Relations
McClelland and Stewart, 2005

This collection extends the efforts of Mining for Sun to incorporate interests and approaches usually associated with narrative, without losing the concentration and intensity of poetic form. The title suggests an affinity with contemporary short fiction; and the fiction of such writers as Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, and Ann Beattie has been an informing inspiration. The poems most often focus on urban scenes and characters; and they attempt to do so with that awareness of the inextricable nature of the personal and the social/political which which drove the author to translate Brecht’s “Buckow Elegies” in the 1980s. The collection first probes pivotal moments in the lives of his family. Then, following the same creative urge celebrated in the folksongs of his mother’s Irish heritage and the blues of Louis Armstrong, they move into a world of intersecting fictional relations, unfolding a broad range of characters. One of the poems, “Night Thoughts,” was awarded First Prize in the international Petra Kenney Poetry Competition.

A Reading of Eliot's Four QuartetsJulia M. Reibetanz
A Reading of Eliot’s Four Quartets
UMI Research Press, 1983

This study offers a full reading of T. S. Eliot’s most complex long poem. It explores the poem in detail, arguing from its primary constitutive elements to its overall structure and argument. Prosody is an important focus of the reading. Eliot’s metrical practice is examined in the light of his stated aim to create a new accentual line. The poem is also read in the light of its debt to the long tradition of English landscape poetry, especially the greater Romantic lyric. As poetry of place, the Quartets define themselves through the actual physical landscapes in which they are grounded. But they also define themselves through the landscapes of thought which Eliot inherited from the vast scope of his reading. His debt especially to the mystical treatises of St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, and to the Bhagavad Gita are closely investigated. In the largest sense, the Quartets are read as meditative lyrics, in which the narrative of thought subsumes both philosophical argument and symbolist perception, forging a unity of the “way down” and the “way up,” of the “fire” and the “rose.”

 Transnational EnglandTerry F. Robinson and Monika Class, eds. and contributors
Transnational England: Home and Abroad, 1780-1860
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009

The rise of the modern English nation coincided with England’s increased encounters with other peoples, both at home and abroad. Their cultures and ideas—artistic, religious, political, and philosophical—contributed, in turn, to the composition of England’s own domestic identity. Transnational England sheds light on this exchange through a close investigation of the literatures of the time, from dramas to novels, travel narratives to religious hymns, and poetry to prose, all of which reveal how connections between England and other world communities 1780-1860 simultaneously fostered and challenged the sovereignty of the English nation and the ideological boundaries that constituted it.

Featuring essays from distinguished and emergent scholars that will enhance the literary, historical, and cultural knowledge of England's interaction with European, American, Eastern, and Asian nations during a time of increased travel and vast imperial expansion, this volume is valuable reading for academics and students alike.


“This absorbing collection brings to light the extent to which British Romantic and Victorian literary and performance culture was saturated by transnational influences. From the sacramental to the salacious, from the centralities of the canon to the creolizing peripheries, 'English Literature' in its most 'nationalist' phase is revealed as a dynamic palimpsest of cultural confluence. In a series of detailed and beautifully crafted essays the scholars represented here collectively make a compelling case for the interwoven presence of American, Asian and European elements at the heart of imperial Britain.”
—Susan Manning, Grierson Professor of English Literature and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh

“In Transnational England, established scholars and newer voices discuss England's productive yet problematic international encounters as reflected in Romantic literature, and in the spheres of theatre, religion, and travel. Refreshingly original and often provocative, these essays propose that we recognize, among other things, a ‘women’s cosmopolitanism’ emerging in English Romantic drama and a transnational hymnody in the Anglican Church; they expose the difficulties involved in Blake’s patriotic stance and argue that Coleridge’s most distinctive achievements are most deeply engaged with German literature; they demonstrate how descriptions of foreign food and depictions of ‘home’ can call British national identity into question. This collection makes highly stimulating reading for students and scholars of Romanticism, especially those engaged with the compelling subjects of national identity, international relations, imperialism, and comparative literature.”
—Angela Esterhammer, Professor of English Literature, University of Zurich; Distinguished University Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Western Ontario

DilemmasMarjorie Rubright
Doppelgänger Dilemmas: Anglo-Dutch Relations in Early Modern English Literature and Culture
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

"A gracefully written, thought-provoking, and original book. Although the Dutch were central to how the English understood themselves, they have received surprisingly little attention from those interested in ethnicity and nationhood until now. Doppelgänger Dilemmas revises our understanding of the role the Dutch played in English self-definitions and of how ethnicity was constituted in the early modern period—and beyond."—Frances E. Dolan, University of California, Davis

"Deeply impressive in bringing into view a new and extensive corpus of Dutch interaction in English culture, Marjorie Rubright moves with great intellectual deftness across a large range of conceptual material. Doppelgänger Dilemmas is a clear corrective to the fetish for the 'Other' in early modern studies, and returns us to material that has been overlooked in the scramble for the exotic."—Emma Smith, University of Oxford

The Dutch were culturally ubiquitous in England during the early modern period and constituted London's largest alien population in the second half of the sixteenth century. While many sought temporary refuge from Spanish oppression in the Low Countries, others became part of a Dutch diaspora, developing their commercial, spiritual, and domestic lives in England. The category "Dutch" catalyzed questions about English self-definition that were engendered less by large-scale cultural distinctions than by uncanny similarities. Doppelgänger Dilemmas uncovers the ways England's real and imagined proximities with the Dutch played a crucial role in the making of English ethnicity.

Marjorie Rubright explores the tensions of Anglo-Dutch relations that emerged in the form of puns, double entendres, cognates, homophones, copies, palimpsests, doppelgängers, and other doublings of character and kind. Through readings of London's stage plays and civic pageantry, English and Continental polyglot and bilingual dictionaries and grammars, and travel accounts of Anglo-Dutch rivalries and friendships in the Spice Islands, Rubright reveals how representations of Dutchness played a vital role in shaping Englishness in virtually every aspect of early modern social life. Her innovative book sheds new light on the literary and historical forces of similitude in an era that was so often preoccupied with ethnic and cultural difference.

Mari Ruti
Distillations: Theory, Ethics and Affect
Bloomsbury, Forthcoming August 2018

Distilling into concise and focused formulations many of the main ideas that Mari Ruti has sought to articulate throughout her writing career, this book reflects on the general state of contemporary theory as it relates to posthumanist ethics, political resistance, subjectivity, agency, desire, and bad feelings such as anxiety. It offers a critique of progressive theory's tendency to advance extreme models of revolt that have little real-life applicability. The chapters move fluidly between several theoretical registers, the most obvious of these being continental philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, Butlerian ethics, affect theory, and queer theory. One of the central aims of Distillations is to explore the largely uncharted territory between psychoanalysis and affect theory, which are frequently pitted against each other as hopelessly incompatible, but which Ruti shows can be brought into a productive dialogue.

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The LettersAnn Saddlemyer
W.B.Yeats and George Yeats The Letters
Oxford University Press, 2011

During the twenty-two years of their married life, W. B. and George Yeats corresponded regularly and fully whenever they were apart. They discussed his writing and other projects, their family and friends, and the social, artistic, and political scene in Ireland and the United Kingdom in far more detail than with anyone else. Both were splendid and enchanting storytellers. The letters include fascinating drafts of poems, statements of belief, candid descriptions of people and events, and in some cases offer biographical and historical corrections to the popular narrative of Yeats's life. And not for nothing would he write to his wife, 'you are much the best letter writer I know, or have known'. The letters between them not only tell the story of the marriage of two minds and the world they created, but also illuminate how Yeats worked on his writing and reveal a refreshing image of the poet as a family man.

"These letters, scrupulously edited and richly and exhaustively annotated, do offer, as Saddlemyer maintains, 'a story of the marriage of two minds and the world they created'. They also provide a fresh perspective on the personality of a loving, funny, altogether marvellous and, above all, tolerant woman." --John Banville, The Oldie

"The letters are brilliantly annotated by Ann Saddlemyer." --Roy F. Foster, Sunday Business Post

"Allows us to witness the complexities of life and art entwined...Saddlemyer is a meticulous scholar of a kind now increasingly rare... Unlike most meticulous editors, however, Saddlemyer is also an elegant writer with a keen sense of proportion." --James Longenbach, The Nation

Becoming GeorgeAnn Saddlemyer
Becoming George - The Life of Mrs W.B.Yeats
Oxford University Press, 2002; paperback ed. 2003

This is the first full biography of George Yeats. With the generous co-operation of the family, her friends, and Yeats scholars throughout the world, it draws upon hitherto unpublished material and other documents to establish the role this remarkably intelligent and extraordinarily knowledgeable woman played in her husband's life and work. For six years before her marriage Georgie Hyde Lees was a serious student of the occult and medieval philosophy, knowledge which led to the automatic writing that formed a basis for A Vision and most of Yeats's later writings. In addition she worked closely with the Dublin Drama League, for a number of years ran the embroidery section of Cuala, and then on the death of her husband and his sister Elizabeth became editor and publisher of the Cuala Press. A discriminating critic and accomplished linguist who was far more familiar with contemporary European literature than her husband, she numbered among her close friends the playwright Lennox Robinson, the poet and art critic Thomas MacGreevy, the short story writer Frank O'Connor, and the young poet John Montague. Ezra Pound and the musicians Jelly d'Aranyi and Walter Rummel, were close friends throughout her life.

After Yeats's death she was in sole charge of his work and manuscripts, for thirty years knowledgeably steering the 'Yeats industry' through her advice and assistance to such critics as Ellmann, Jeffares, Bradford, Virginia Moore and a host of younger scholars.

Later StagesAnn Saddlemyer
Later Stages: Essays on Ontario Theatre from World War I to the 1970s
(with Richard Plant)
University of Toronto Press, 1997

This book is the final volume in the OHHS series, and the second volume in the first comprehensive history of theatre in Ontario, both edited by Ann Saddlemyer.

J. M. Synge The Playboy of the Western World and Other PlaysAnn Saddlemyer
J. M. Synge The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays
Oxford University Press, 1995 (World's Classics Series)213

A volume in the Oxford World Classics Drama series, freshly edited with critical introduction, wide-ranging notation and bibliography.

Cannon Schmitt and Elaine Freedgood, eds.
Denotatively, Technically, Literally
University of California Press, 2014


Denotative, literal, and technical language—apparently transparent and lacking in resonance—seems to be the opposite of literary language. A vigorous reading of the former, this special issue of Representations argues, should seek to realize its opacity and difficulty, its nonidentity with itself. To do so requires a revised and expanded sense of denotation, a rethinking of reference, the dereification of writing, an appeal to more expansive and heterodox archives, a historicism that forestalls or delays the figural, and more reading. Unlike recent literary critical attempts to restrict the field of reading, the practices sketched here seek to remove all limits to that which can be read, researched, and made into meaning. Contributors include Schmitt, Freedgood, Rachel Sagner Buurma, Margaret Cohen, Ian Duncan, and Laura Heffernan.

Darwin and the Memory of the HumanCannon Schmitt
Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America
Cambridge University Press, 2009

When the young Charles Darwin landed on the shores of Tierra del Fuego in 1832, he was overwhelmed: nothing had prepared him for the sight of what he called "an untamed savage." The shock he felt, repeatedly recalled in later years, definitively shaped his theory of evolution. In this study, I show how Darwin and other Victorian naturalists transformed such encounters with South America and its indigenous peoples into influential accounts of biological and historical change. Redefining what it means to be human, they argue that the modern self must be understood in relation to a variety of pasts--personal, historical, and ancestral--conceived of as savage. Darwin and the Memory of the Human reshapes our understanding of Victorian imperialism, revisits the implications of Darwinian theory, and demonstrates the pertinence of nineteenth-century biological thought to current theorizations of memory.

“This is a brilliant, original, often difficult, but ultimately satisfying book. It is also very ambitious, for it sets out, by focusing on South America as an object of European travels and voyage narratives, to analyze and indeed reconstruct the construction, or ‘invention,’ as Schmitt puts it, of ‘the human as natural.’ . . . The payoff emerges from the strength of the argument, the ultimately moving engagement with the subject, the freshness of the material considered, and the unequivocally brilliant analyses of language that mark every chapter.”
— George Levine, NBOL-19

Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America is a beautifully written, elegantly conceived contribution to the study of nineteenth-century evolutionary theory’s cultural implications. . . . [The book is] radically different from any other scholarly work I know. It gives new meaning to the term ‘literary criticism’ by making its literariness part of its critical method. The incantatory beauty of Schmitt’s prose is not an incidental feature, a decorative belle-lettrism. Rather it is designed to re-represent the lost savage Victorians, to make them alive in us again, as we read Schmitt who . . . calls forth the ways of dwelling in the lost past that makes such continuing presence possible.”
— Kathy Alexis Psomiades, Criticism

Victorian InvestmentsCannon Schmitt and Nancy Henry, eds.
Victorian Investments: New Perspectives on Finance and Culture
Indiana University Press, 2008

The watchword of this volume in its entirety is transformation. Rapid changes in Victorian financial markets and investment practices reflected and influenced broader social changes: political and moral reform, the struggle for women’s rights, the growth of empire. The Victorians developed new kinds of financial writing in a flourishing press as well as in manuals, advice books, advertising, and novels; new knowledge was produced and consumed by a growing number of readers--shareholders and non-shareholders alike. Impossible any longer to consider as a thing apart, investment cut across all aspects of life: the financial sphere overlapped with the domestic sphere, overseas expansion promised to fund comfortable retirement, speculation rewrote the plots and themes of Victorian fiction and reshaped its form. Victorian Investments bears witness to such transformations even as it manifests a corresponding transformation in critical approaches to studying and understanding the multiple and complex intersections between culture and high finance. Contributors include Timothy Alborn, Ian Baucom, Martin Daunton, Nancy Henry, David C. Itzkowitz, Audrey Jaffe, Donna Loftus, Mary Poovey, George Robb, and Cannon Schmitt.

Alien NationCannon Schmitt
Alien Nation: Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationality
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997

Alien Nation reads the Gothic as a genre that encapsulates a powerful and enduring cultural narrative for nineteenth-century Britain. Gothic fictions depend for their effects upon varieties of estrangement, from the breakdown of communication between genders and classes to the baffled efforts of modernity to make sense of its own feudal past. While no single thread unites these orders of misunderstanding, I argue that nationality organizes much of what is characteristically Gothic. “Nation” here carries a double valence. On one hand, Gothics--both classics of the genre, such as Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797), and later works such as Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)--pose as semi-ethnographic texts in their representation of Continental Europe or the Far East as fundamentally un-English, sites of depravity. On the other, a persuasive notion of Englishness was itself constructed in these novels. This construction initially functioned by means of a threatened female figure (the quintessential Gothic heroine) who ostensibly embodied a peculiarly English subjectivity. Later, threatened femininity came to stand in synecdochically for the nation as a whole, a development that clarifies the usefulness of Gothic plotting to England’s efforts to imagine itself. In journalistic accounts of imperial conflicts such as the Sepoy Mutiny and the Opium Wars, for instance, the figure of the Gothic heroine was pulled from the pages of fiction and pressed into the service of the nation-state.

Chester N. ScovilleC. N. Scoville
Broadview Press, 2017

Few medieval plays in English have attracted as much twenty-first-century interest as the Digby Mary Magdalene, an early-fifteenth-century drama that, as Chester Scoville puts it, is “probably the most spectacular of the late medieval English plays.” This new edition presents a modernized text of the play, with extensive annotation (both marginal glosses and explanatory footnotes), an insightful introduction, and a helpful selection of background contextual materials.


Atavistic TendenciesDana Seitler
Atavistic Tendencies: the Culture of Science in American Modernity
University of Minnesota Press, 2008

The post-Darwinian theory of atavism forecasted obstacles to human progress in the reappearance of throwback physical or cultural traits after several generations of absence. In this work, Dana Seitler explores the ways in which modernity itself is an atavism, shaping a historical and theoretical account of its dramatic rise and impact on Western culture and imagination.

Examining late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science, fiction, and photography, Seitler discovers how modern thought oriented itself around this paradigm of obsolescence and return, one that served to sustain ideologies of gender, sexuality, and race. She argues that atavism was not only a discourse of violence, mapping racial and sexual divisions onto the boundary between human and animal, but was also an illustration of how modern science understood human being as a temporal category. On the one hand, atavism positioned some humans as more advanced than others on an evolutionary scale. On the other, it undermined such progressivism by suggesting that because all humans had evolved from animals they were therefore not purely human. Investigating the cultural logic of science in conjunction with naturalist, feminist, and popular narratives, Seitler exposes the influence of atavism: a fundamental shift in ways of knowing, and telling stories about, the modern human.
Sergi, BookMatthew Sergi
Practical Cues and Social Spectacle in the Chester Plays
The University of Chicago Press

Amid the crowded streets of Chester, guild players portraying biblical characters performed on colorful mobile stages hoping to draw the attention of fellow townspeople. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these Chester plays employed flamboyant live performance to adapt biblical narratives. But the original format of these fascinating performances remains cloudy, as surviving records of these plays are sparse, and the manuscripts were only written down a generation after they stopped. Revealing a vibrant set of social practices encoded in the Chester plays, Matthew Sergi provides a new methodology for reading them and a transformative look at medieval English drama. Carefully combing through the plays, Sergi seeks out cues in the dialogues that reveal information about the original staging, design, and acting. These “practical cues,” as he calls them, have gone largely unnoticed by drama scholars, who have focused on the ideology and historical contexts of these plays, rather than the methods, mechanics, and structures of the actual performances. Drawing on his experience as an actor and director, he combines close readings of these texts with fragments of records, revealing a new way to understand how the Chester plays brought biblical narratives to spectators in the noisy streets. For Sergi, plays that once appeared only as dry religious dramas come to life as raucous participatory spectacles filled with humor, camp, and devotion.

David Shaw
Babel and the Ivory Tower: The Scholar in an Age of Science Babel_DS
University of Toronto Press, 2005

Review by Tracy Ware, University of Toronto Quarterly. “‘For four decades,’ David Shaw writes, ‘I have been trying to discover why scholarship and teaching are at once fulfilling enterprises and exercises in frustration.’ His career as a critic of Victorian poetry has been exceptionally fulfilling for his students and readers, and this book is a compelling account of the highest scholarly ideals, combined with an extraordinary range of memorable quotations and anecdotes. Despite his ‘sympathy with humanists who deplore the death of scholarship,’ he has ‘no desire to write an elegy,’ and his faith in the university outlasts his dissatisfaction with recent trends within in it.” Short-listed for Raymond Kablinsky Prize.

David Shaw
Secrets of the Oracle: A History of Wisdom from Zeno to Yeats Secrets_DS
University of Toronto Press, 2009

What is wisdom? Where does it come from? Where can we find it? In Secrets of the Oracle David Shaw explores these questions by turning to the works of wisdom writers, whose words retain their meaning and their transformative power even centuries after they were written.

David Shaw
The Ghost Behind the Masks: The Victorian Poets and Shakespeare The Ghost_DS
University of Virginia Press, 2014

Assessing Shakespeare’s influence on nine Victorian poets, Shaw argues that influence is never a matter of mere quotation but involves more elusive elements of rhetoric and style. Though Tennyson often quotes Shakespeare, in style and manner he is more Miltonic, less Shakespearean, than Browning and Hopkins, or even than Christina Rossetti, whose reserve and profound simplicity are often more Shakespearean. Lear’s “Pray you, undo this button,” like Rossetti’s “Give me the lowest place,” is an example of natural simplicity, whereas Tennyson usually achieves only a mannered semblance of it.


Philipa Sheppard
 McGill Queen’s University Press, May 31, 2017.

Devouring Time: Nostalgia in Contemporary Shakespearean Screen Adaptations analyzes twenty-seven filmsbased on Shakespeare’s works, from Kenneth Branagh’s groundbreaking Henry V to Justin Kurzel’s haunting Macbeth, investigating the filmakers’ nostalgia for the art of the past. The translation from Renaissance plays to modern cinema sheds light on Western concepts of gender, identity and colonialism.



Sebastian Sobecki
 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
The medieval period - broadly conceived from the Fall of Rome to the Reformation, in a European context - has produced some of the most dazzling and transformative feats of travel and exploration: the Papal embassies that took over one year of overland travel to reach Mongolia, Ibn Battuta’s thirty years of voyaging to Africa and East Asia, or Christopher Columbus’ landing in the New World, to name a few spectacular instances. Medieval travel writing, in particular, has contributed many of the most widely studied narratives in literary history, including John Mandeville’s Travels, Boccaccio’s Decameron, Marco Polo’s voyage account, or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Global Medieval Travel Writing: A Literary History, edited by Sebastian Sobecki and contracted by Cambridge University Press, will be published in 2023. This will be the first pan-European, Middle Eastern, and global guide through the bewildering maze of early travel narratives. Each chapter will be written by a leading specialist in their geographical area. At the same time, the geographical scope of this collection, with chapters on travel writing produced by Persian, Arabic, and Chinese writers, will challenge Western periodisation and the term ‘medieval’. Using the dates 1200 and 1550 CE as boundaries for a global period of intercultural and intercontinental contact, the volume (despite its combined European and Middle Eastern centre) will not attempt to interpret ‘medieval’ beyond marking a chronological spectrum.

Individual chapters will pay particular attention to questions of gender, manuscript transmission, and language choice and multilingualism.

The Chaucer ReviewSebastian Sobecki
The Case of Geoffrey Chaucer and Cecily Chaumpaigne: New Evidence
Chaucer Review 
(special issue) 57:4 (2022), co-edited with Euan Roger

This special issue of The Chaucer Review announces the momentous discovery by Euan Roger and Sebastian Sobecki of new documents from the Court of King's Bench that establish the nature of the Chaucer-Chaumpaigne court case. As editors, we are pleased that The Chaucer Review is the venue for making public newly uncovered documents housed at The National Archives in Kew. In addition, three appendices supplied by Roger and Sobecki provide important updates to Chaucer's extant life-records: (1) a full chronology of the known Chaucer-Chaumpaigne record; (2) transcriptions and translations of all the pertinent documents; and (3) a calendar of the nine Chaucer life-records discovered since the publication of Martin M. Crow and Clair C. Olsen's Chaucer Life-Records (Oxford, 1966). This historic issue also holds a first-ever survey of the life-records of Cecily Chaumpaigne, compiled and assessed by Andrew Prescott, as well as three critical responses, authored by Sarah Baechle, Carissa M. Harris, and Samantha Katz Seal, which consider scholarly perspectives that may arise in light of these new facts and findings. An afterword composed by Roger and Prescott delineates the strong potential for finding yet more life-records on major medieval authors-records likely to still lie dormant in the archives. With this issue, The Chaucer Review hews close to its tradition as a forum for both new evidence and courageous opinion on the life and writings of Geoffrey Chaucer.


This is the first edition of A Mirroure of Myserie (1557), a poem by the Catholic propagandist Miles Hogarde and probably presented to Queen Mary. Cast as a dream vision, this combative dialogue draws on William Langland’s widely circulating medieval poem The Vision of Piers Plowman and offers a critical assessment of sixteenth-century morality in England. The Mirroure of Myserie has been edited from Huntington Library MS 121 and is accompanied by a short introduction. This accessible edition preserves Hogarde’s original spelling but adds modern punctuation and glosses of all unfamiliar words and concepts.

Last WordsSebastian Sobecki

No medieval text was designed to be read hundreds of years later by an audience unfamiliar with its language, situation, and author. By ascribing to these texts intentional anonymity, we romanticise them and misjudge the social character of their authors. Instead, most medieval poems and manuscripts presuppose familiarity with their authorial or scribal maker. Last Words: The Public Self and the Social Author in Late Medieval England attempts to recover this familiarity and understand the literary motivation behind some of most important fifteenth-century texts and authors.

Last Words captures the public selves of such social authors when they attempt to extract themselves from the context of a lived life. Driven by archival research and literary inquiry, this book reveals where John Gower kept the Trentham manuscript in his final years, how John Lydgate wished to be remembered, and why Thomas Hoccleve wrote his best-known work, the Series. It includes documentary breakthroughs and archival discoveries, and introduces a new life record for Hoccleve, identifies the author of a significant political poem, and reveals the handwriting of John Gower and George Ashby.

Through its investments in archival study, book history, and literary criticism, Last Words charts the extent to which medieval English literature was shaped by the social selves of their authors.

Medieval English TravelSebastian Sobecki
(ed.) Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology
co-edited with Anthony Bale (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019; paperbacked in 2021)

Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology is a comprehensive volume that consists of three sections: concise introductory essays written by leading specialists; an anthology of important and less well-known texts, grouped by destination; and a selection of supporting bibliographies organized by type of voyage. This anthology presents some texts for the first time in a modern edition. The first section consists of six companion essays on 'Places, Real and Imagined', 'Maps and the Organization of Space', 'Encounters', 'Codes and Languages', 'Trade and Exchange', and 'Politics and Diplomacy'.

The organizing principle for the anthology is one of expansive geography. Starting with local English narratives, the section moves to France, en-route destinations, the Holy Land, and the Far East. In total, the anthology contains twenty-six texts or extracts, including new editions of Floris & Blancheflour, The Stacions of Rome, The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye, and Chaucers 'Squire's Tale', in addition to less familiar texts, such as Osbern Bokenham's Mappula Angliae, John Kay's Siege of Rhodes, 1480, and Richard Torkington's Diaries of Englysshe Travell.

The supporting bibliographies, in turn, take a functional approach to travel, and support the texts by elucidating contexts for travel and travellers in five areas: 'commercial voyages', 'diplomatic and military travel', 'maps, rutters, and charts', 'practical needs, languages, and currencies', and 'religious voyages'.

Law and LiteratureSebastian Sobecki
(ed.) A Companion to Medieval English Law and Literature
co-edited with Candace Barrington (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
Despite an unprecedented level of interest in the interaction between law and literature over the past two decades, readers have had no accessible introduction to this rich engagement in medieval and early Tudor England. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Law and Literature addresses this need by combining an authoritative guide through the bewildering maze of medieval law with concise examples illustrating how the law infiltrated literary texts during this period. Foundational chapters written by leading specialists in legal history prepare readers to be guided by noted literary scholars through unexpected conversations with the law found in numerous medieval texts, including major works by Chaucer, Langland, Gower, and Malory. Part I contains detailed introductions to legal concepts, practices and institutions in medieval England, and Part II covers medieval texts and authors whose verse and prose can be understood as engaging with the law.
Studies in the Age of ChaucerSebastian Sobecki
vols. 41-45. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2019-2023), co-edited with Michelle Karnes
Studies in the Age of Chaucer, the yearbook of the New Chaucer Society, publishes articles on the writing of Chaucer and his contemporaries, their antecedents and successors, and their intellectual and social contexts. More generally, articles explore the culture and writing of later medieval Britain (1200-1500). SAC also includes an annotated bibliography and reviews of Chaucer-related publications.

A Critical Companion to John SkeltonSebastian Sobecki
co-edited with John Scattergood (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2018) 
John Skelton is a central literary figure and the leading poet during the first thirty years of Tudor rule. Nevertheless, he remains challenging and even contradictory for modern audiences. This book aims to provide an authoritative guide to this complex poet and his works, setting him in his historical, religious, and social contexts. Beginning with an exploration of his life and career, it goes on to cover all the major aspects of his poetry, from the literary traditions in which he wrote and the form of his compositions to the manuscript contexts and later reception.

‘Our Sea of Islands: New Approaches to British Insularity in the Late Middle Ages’, Sebastian Sobecki
Postmedieval (special issue) 7:4 (2016), co-edited with Matthew Boyd Goldie 
postmedieval publishes theoretically driven scholarship on premodernity and its ongoing reverberations. Contributions are characterized by conceptual adventure, stylistic experiment, political urgency, or surprising encounter. The editors are committed to expanding the fields of knowledge and geography represented in the journal, by showcasing scholarship that reaches across disciplines, language traditions, locales, modes of inquiry, and levels of access. Our aim is to facilitate collaborative, ethical, and experimental engagements with the medieval – with its archives and art, its thought and practices, its traces and its enduring possibilities.

Unwritten VeritiesSebastian Sobecki
(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015)
In Unwritten Verities: The Making of England's Vernacular Legal Culture, 1463-1549, Sebastian Sobecki argues that the commitment by English common law to an unwritten tradition, along with its association with Lancastrian political ideas of consensual government, generated a vernacular legal culture on the eve of the Reformation that challenged the centralizing ambitions of Tudor monarchs, the scriptural literalism of ardent Protestants, and the Latinity of English humanists.

Sobecki identifies the widespread dissemination of legal books and William Caxton's printing of the Statutes of Henry VII as crucial events in the creation of a vernacular legal culture. He reveals the impact of medieval concepts of language, governance, and unwritten authority on such sixteenth-century humanists, reformers, playwrights, and legal writers as John Rastell, Thomas Elyot, Christopher St. German, Edmund Dudley, John Heywood, and Thomas Starkey. Unwritten Verities argues that three significant developments contributed to the emergence of a vernacular legal culture in fifteenth-century England: medieval literary theories of translation, a Lancastrian legacy of conciliar government, and an adherence to unwritten tradition. This vernacular legal culture, in turn, challenged the textual practices of English humanism and the early Reformation in the following century. Ultimately, the spread of vernacular law books found a response in the popular rebellions of 1549, at the helm of which often stood petitioners trained in legal writing.

Informed by new developments in medieval literature and early modern social history, Unwritten Verities sheds new light on law printing, John Fortescue's constitutional thought, ideas of the commonwealth, and the role of French in medieval and Tudor England.

‘Our Sea of IslandsSebastian Sobecki
(Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2011)
Essays examining the way in which the sea has shaped medieval and later ideas of what it is to be English.

Local and imperial, insular and expansive, both English yet British: geographically and culturally, the sea continues to shape changing models of Englishness. This volume traces the many literary origins of insular identity from local communities to the entire archipelago, laying open the continuities and disruptions in the sea's relationship with English identity in a British context. Ranging from the beginnings of insular literature to Victorian medievalisms, the subjects treated include King Arthur's struggle with muddy banks, the afterlife of Edgar's forged charters, Old English homilies and narratives of migration, Welsh and English ideas about Chester, Anglo-Norman views of the sea in the Vie de St Edmund and Waldef, post-Conquest cartography, The Book of Margery Kempe, the works of the Irish Stopford Brooke, and the making of an Anglo-British identity in Victorian Britain.

The Sea and Medieval English LiteratureSebastian Sobecki
(Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2018)
A fresh and invigorating survey of the sea as it appears in medieval English literature, from romance to chronicle, hagiography to autobiography. As the first cultural history of the sea in medieval English literature, this book traces premodern myths of insularity from their Old English beginnings to Shakespeare's Tempest. Beginning with a discussion of biblical, classical and pre-Conquest treatments of the sea, it investigates how such works as the Anglo-Norman Voyage of St Brendan, the Tristan romances, the chronicles of Matthew Paris, King Horn, Patience, The Book of Margery Kempe and The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye shape insular ideologies of Englishness. Whether it is Britain's privileged place in the geography of salvation or the political fiction of the idyllic island fortress, medieval English writers' myths of the sea betray their anxieties about their own insular identity; their texts call on maritime motifs to define England geographically and culturally against the presence of the sea. New insights from a range of fields, including jurisprudence, theology, the history of cartography and anthropology, are used to provide fresh readings of a wide range of both insular and continental writings.

A Truffaut NotebookSam Solecki
The Etruscans in the Modern Imagination
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2022.

The Etruscans in the Modern Imagination
chronicles the unexpected return of the Etruscans to intellectual and cultural history, beginning with eighteenth-century scholars, collectors, and archaeologists. Their resurrection occurred in philosophy, literature, music, history, mythology, and the plastic arts. From Josiah Wedgwood to Anne Carson (with many stops between), the book reads the traces of Etruscan civilization for what they tell us about cultural knowledge in different times and places, for the way that ideas about the Etruscans can reflect a particular cultural moment, and for the creative alchemy whereby artists turn to the past for the raw materials of contemporary creation.



A Truffaut NotebookSam Solecki
A Truffaut Notebook
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015

The book consists of over eighty short entries and essays, as well as photographs, lists, dreams, and quizzes and offers a novel introduction to the life and work of one of the fathers of the French New Wave. It examines topics such as Truffaut's mentors, his place in the film tradition, the autobiographical dimension of his films, his influence, and the formal and thematic coherence of his body of work. The film critic Jerry White described it as ‘a genuine advance in terms of critical practice.'


Yours, AlSam Solecki, ed.
Yours, Al: The Collected Letters of Al Purdy
Harbour Publishing, 2004

Published four years after the poet’s death, Yours, Al can be read as an unexpurgated companion to his 1997 autobiography, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, and his collected poems, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (2000). Like any body of interesting correspondence, they offer a perspective on the life and times of an individual from a viewpoint unavailable to anyone else. If, to quote the title of one of Purdy’s last books, No One Else Is Lawrence!, it is also true that no one else is quite like Purdy. And we read letters, whether Lawrence’s or Purdy’s, to encounter those very qualities that make him unique, or in Mary Wordsworth’s more figurative phrase, "to see the breathing of the inmost heart upon paper." What we discover are the various, sometimes contradictory aspects of a great writer’s self caught in the voices and personae of letters written to various people at different times and on different occasions. We get a more complex, almost cubist self-portrait in various styles and in nearly countless typefaces than we find in an autobiography (or biography). In Purdy’s case, the "picture" is the result of thousands of individual texts produced over a period of half a century and it illustrates Proust’s suggestion that "On ne se réalise que successivement," a notion that finds some incidental confirmation in Purdy’s uncertainty for many years in his letters and his books about his name: was he Alfred Wellington Purdy, Alfred W. Purdy, A.W. Purdy, Alfred Purdy or Al? In this fascinating collection we find Purdy in dialogue with individuals as different as Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Northrop Frye, Jack McClelland and Pierre Trudeau.

Ragas of LongingSam Solecki
Ragas of Longing: The Poetry of Michael Ondaatje
University of Toronto Press, 2003

Ragas of Longing offers the first book-length study of Michael Ondaatje’s poetry and its place within his overall body of work. Relating the poetry to various poetic traditions from classical Sanskrit and Tamil to postmodern, the book presents a chronologically arranged critical reading of Ondaatje’s six volumes. Among the study’s concerns are the relationship between the poet’s life and work, his poetic debts and development, his theory of poetry and his central themes. It also includes close readings of Ondaatje’s monographs on Leonard Cohen and Edwin Muir, the Scots poet and critic. The book suggests that Ondaatje’s poetry can be seen as constituting a relatively cohesive personal canon that has evolved with each book building on its predecessors while simultaneously preparing the ground for its successor. The author argues that Ondaatje’s writing has a narrative unity and trajectory determined by crucial events in his life, especially the breakup of his family and his subsequent exile from his father and Ceylon. The result is a body of work whose vision is post-Christian, postmodern, and, despite an often humorous tone, fundamentally tragic.

Prague Blues
Sam Solecki
Prague Blues: The Fiction of Josef Škvorecký
ECW Press, 1988

Prague Blues is the first book-length study of the fiction of the Czech-Canadian writer Josef Skvorecky (b. 1924) who has been described by George Steiner in The New Yorker as ‘one of the major literary figures of our time’ and who won the Neustadt Prize in 1980 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize. This critical overview of Skvorecky’s career suggests that the novelist is a central figure not only in the literature of Central Europe but in the writing of the West, and that his novels, from the now classic The Cowards (1958) to The Miracle Game (1972) and the award-winning The Engineer of Human Souls (1977) constitute an irreplaceable fictional chronicle of the past half-century of European society and history. Solecki suggests that Skvorecky is essentially a comic and anti-political writer who, because of the irony of historical circumstances, developed almost against his will into an important political novelist. He argues that at the heart of the novelist’s comic and often satiric fiction is a fundamentally religious vision that offers a defence of the individual and of certain average human values against the dogmas of totalitarian ideologies. In this he writes in the tradition that includes Czeslaw Milosz and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. In addition to interpretations of the major novels and stories, Prague Blues contains a biographical chronicle of Skvorecky’s career.

Paul Stevens and David Loewenstein, eds. Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War
The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War
Cambridge University Press, 2021

Written by a team of leading international scholars, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War illuminates the ways Shakespeare's works provide a rich and imaginative resource for thinking about the topic of war. Contributors explore the multiplicity of conflicting perspectives his dramas offer: war depicted from chivalric, masculine, nationalistic, and imperial perspectives; war depicted as a source of great excitement and as a theater of honor; war depicted from realistic or skeptical perspectives that expose the butchery, suffering, illness, famine, degradation, and havoc it causes. The essays in this volume examine the representations and rhetoric of war throughout Shakespeare's plays, as well as the modern history of the war plays on stage, in film, and in propaganda. This book offers fresh perspectives on Shakespeare's multifaceted representations of the complexities of early modern warfare, while at the same time illuminating why his perspectives on war and its consequences continue to matter now and in the future.

Early Modern Nationalism and Milton's England
Paul Stevens and David Loewenstein, eds. and contributors
Early Modern Nationalism and Milton’s England
University of Toronto Press, 2008

Despite John Milton’s intense political engagement and stirring defenses of the English Revolution, relatively little has been written on Milton’s patriotism, his concept of the nation and its relation to early modern nationalism. This book sets out to redress the balance. Informed by a range critical methods, its fifteen essays examine the complex expressions of nationhood and national identity in Milton’s writings in order to illuminate some of the crucial literary, ethnic, and civic dimensions of nationalism in general. The book’s argument falls into five sections: the representation of England as the peculiar locus of a “free people,” the nation and its church, ethnicity and international relations, nationalism and its discontents, and the nationalization of Milton. “This stunning volume immensely expands our understanding of Milton and early modern nationalism. It will be de rigueur reading for all those interested in the nation and nationalism from the early modern period to the twenty-first century” (Rachel Trubowitz [New Hampshire]). “Compelling and discriminating” (Nigel Smith [Princeton]).

DiscontinuitiesPaul Stevens and Viviana Comensoli, eds. and contributors
Discontinuities: New Essays on Renaissance Literature and Criticism
University of Toronto Press, 1998

Over the past two decades there has been a generally recognized paradigm shift in the study of English Renaissance literature. Scholarly attention has moved from the individual to the social as the agent of literary production and the principal site of discussion. Genius is now far less likely to be invoked than discourse, culture, or ideology. The intellectual shift, routinely associated with new historicism, feminism, and cultural materialism, has been neither uncontested nor simple and uniform. The essays in this volume set out to identify, examine, and respond to these discontinuities, and in so doing attest to the extraordinary vitality of contemporary Renaissance studies. “This powerful collection of essays points to the limitations of historicism in a robust call for new theorizing of English Renaissance literary studies. Discontinuities offers a most compelling and subtle analysis of current modes of criticism in Renaissance studies” (Sharon Achinstein [Oxford]). “Exceptionally honest and provocative” (Comparative Drama [2001]).

Imagination and the Presence of Shakespeare in 'Paradise Lost'Paul Stevens
Imagination and the Presence of Shakespeare in ‘Paradise Lost’
University of Wisconsin Press, 1985

English literary history has long held that Milton renounced Shakespeare, and for some literary critics this meant the renunciation of the creative imagination. This work of criticism is the first extensive study to explore the influence of Shakespeare on Milton’s poetry and understanding of imagination. Stevens uncovers an unusual range of Shakespearean echoes in Paradise Lost and other works to substantiate his argument that Shakespeare functioned in Milton’s intellectual and psychic life as a symbol or type of the imagination and its potential for doing many things but most importantly for creating religious belief. “What is most valuable about this book, and most original, is the quite extraordinary way other texts, and especially the plays of Shakespeare, are used as the main instrument of exegesis” (Annabel Patterson [Yale]). “Stevens is a superb teacher of the way in which poetry should be read – must be read” (Joseph Wittreich [Graduate Center, CUNY]).

Stalin_daughterRosemary Sullivan
Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
HarperCollins, 2015

The award-winning author of Villa Air-Bel returns with a painstakingly researched, revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators—her father, Josef Stalin.

Born in the early years of the Soviet Union, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted Russia, but she did not escape tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father.

As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States—leaving her two children behind. But although she was never a part of her father’s regime, she could not escape his legacy. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

With access to KGB, CIA, and Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Rosemary Sullivan pieces together Svetlana’s incredible life in a masterful account of unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it’s a revolutionary biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name. Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening a closed, brutal world that continues to fascinate us.

Villa Air-BelRosemary Sullivan
Villa Air-Bel
HarperCollins and John Murray, 2006

The true story of a remarkable place and time and of a group of legendary artists, intellectuals, scientists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and political leaders who found shelter and sanity in a world turned murderous. France, 1940. The once glittering boulevards of Paris teem with spies, collaborators, and the Gestapo now that France has fallen to Hitler’s Wermacht. For André Breton, Max Ernst, Victor Serge, Marc Chagall, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, Remedios Varo, Benjamin Péret, and scores of other cultural elite denounced as enemies of the Third Reich, fear and uncertainty define daily life. One wrong glance, one misplaced confidence could mean arrest, deportation, and death. Their only salvation is the Villa Air-Bel, a chateau outside Marseilles where a group of young people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep them alive. Financed by the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, unlikely heroes -- feisty graduate student Marian Davenport, Harvard-educated classical scholar Varian Fry, beautiful and compelling heiress Mary Jayne Gold, and brilliant young Socialist and survivor of the Battle of Dunkerque, Danny Bénédite as well as his British wife Theo -- cajole, outwit, and use every means possible to stave off the Nazis and newly-installed Vichy government officials circling closer with each passing day. The chateau was a vibrant artistic salon, home to lively debates and clandestine affairs, to Sunday art auctions and subversive surrealist games. Relationships within the house were tense and arguments were common, but the will to survive kept the covert operation under wraps. Beyond the chateau’s luscious façade war raged, yet hope reverberated within its halls. With the aid of their young rescuers, these diverse individuals, intense, brilliant, and utterly terrified, were able to survive one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century. Villa Air-Bel is a powerfully told, meticulously researched true story. Rosemary Sullivan explores the diaries, memoirs and letters of the individuals involved while uncovering their private worlds and the web of relationships they developed. Filled with suspense, drama and intrigue Villa Air-Bel is an excellent work of narrative nonfiction that delves into a fascinating albeit hidden saga in our recent history.

MolitoRosemary Sullivan
Black Moss Press, November 2011.

Deep under the ground lived a little mole named Molito. His fur was brown, the colour of burnt toast. His eyes were as yellow as the sun.
Molito is a story about friendship. One day in the underground park, Molito meets an ant named Carlota who tells him about the mysterious place she lives in, called the upperworld. Molito sets out on his journey to discover what that world is.
Molito is written by Rosemary Sullivan and Juan Opitz, and illustrated by Rosemary’s sister Colleen Sullivan. The Chilean Canadian musician Nano Valverde has composed music to accompany the story narrated by Rosemary Sullivan. A CD of music and story will be included in the sleeve of the book.
Music composed and performed by Nano Valverde. Zampoña and kena played by Claudia Saldivia. Narration by Rosemary Sullivan. Produced, recorded and mastered by Juan Opitz, The HeadRoom Productions, Canada. (from Black Moss Press)

Cheryl SuzackSuzack's book
Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2017

In Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law, Cheryl Suzack explores Indigenous women’s writing in the post-civil rights period through close-reading analysis of major texts by Leslie Marmon Silko, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Louise Erdrich, and Winona LaDuke.

Working within a transnational framework that compares multiple tribal national contexts and U.S.-Canadian settler colonialism, Suzack sheds light on how these Indigenous writers use storytelling to engage in social justice activism by contesting discriminatory tribal membership codes, critiquing the dispossession of Indigenous women from their children, challenging dehumanizing blood quantum codes, and protesting colonial forms of land dispossession. Each chapter in this volume aligns a court case with a literary text to show how literature contributes to self-determination struggles. Situated at the intersections of critical race, Indigenous feminist, and social justice theories, Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law crafts an Indigenous-feminist literary model in order to demonstrate how Indigenous women respond to the narrow vision of law by recuperating other relationships–to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation.

Indigenous Women and FeminismCheryl Suzack, Shari Huhndorf, Jeanne Perreault, and Jean Barman, eds. and contributors
Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture
University of British Columbia Press, 2010
*Awarded the 2012 Canadian Women's Studies Association (CWSA/ACEF) Outstanding Scholarship Prize*

Can the specific concerns of Indigenous women be addressed within current mainstream feminist and post-colonial discussions? Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture proposes that a dynamic new line of inquiry -- Indigenous feminism -- is necessary to truly engage with the crucial issues of cultural identity, nationalism, and decolonization particular to Indigenous contexts.

Through the lenses of politics, activism, and culture, this wide-ranging collection examines the historical roles of Indigenous women, their intellectual and activist work, and the relevance of contemporary literature, art, and performance for an emerging Indigenous feminist project. The questions at the heart of these essays -- What is at stake in conceptualizing Indigenous feminism? How does feminism relate to Indigenous claims to land and sovereignty? What lessons can we learn from the past? How do Indigenous women engage ongoing violence and social and political marginalization? -- cross disciplinary, national, academic, and activist boundaries to explore in depth the unique political and social positions of Indigenous women.

"A much needed and important addition to the scholarship of the Indigenous renaissance, this collection illuminates the effects of the colonial experience and contemporary politics, culture, and activism on Indigenous women’s lives." (Marie Battiste [University of Saskatchewan])

“Power and purpose drive this crucial, timely, and extraordinarily valuable collection” (Kathryn Shanley [University of Montana]).

 Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's EnglandSyme, Holger Schott
Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, December 2011

Holger Syme presents a radically new explanation for the theater's importance in Shakespeare's time. He portrays early modern England as a culture of mediation, dominated by transactions in which one person stood in for another, giving voice to absent speakers or bringing past events to life. No art form related more immediately to this culture than the theater. Arguing against the influential view that the period underwent a crisis of representation, Syme draws upon extensive archival research in the fields of law, demonology, historiography and science to trace a pervasive conviction that testimony and report, delivered by properly authorized figures, provided access to truth. Through detailed close readings of plays by Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare - in particular Volpone, Richard II and The Winter's Tale - and analyses of criminal trial procedures, the book constructs a revisionist account of the nature of representation on the early modern stage.

Excerpts to be found here:  

Advance Praise:

"While Shakespeare critics debate the merits of text versus performance, page versus stage, Holger Schott Syme's powerful new study argues for attending the relationship between the two. Early modern English law and theater both derive their lively oral evocations from written imitations of speech; in tracking this shared dependence on a scripted illusion of voice and presence, Syme offers original and unexpected insights into a broad range of dramatic and legal fictions, from comedies and romances to treason trials."
- Lorna Hutson, University of St Andrews

"Theatre and Testimony is a masterful survey of how, against prevailing historicist and theoretical arguments on the writing and culture of this period, the Elizabethan and Jacobean world established multiple forms of authority, in particular in the fields of law and theater, through strategies which relied on mediation, circulation, and the multiplication of sources. Syme's analyses are profoundly revisionary, wonderfully original, even contrarian, and supported by a wealth of careful detail and intelligent and subtle readings. It is hard to overstate the extent to which his argument requires a revision of the way literary scholars since 1980 and the rise of New Historicism have seen Tudor and Stuart culture. This may be one of those rare books that makes scholars reconsider what has become received wisdom about early modern performance and its means of authorization."
- William N. West, Northwestern University

Locating the Queen's MenSyme, Holger Schott

Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing
Ed. Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin
Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009

Locating the Queen's Men
presents new and groundbreaking essays on early modern England's most prominent acting company, from their establishment in 1583 into the 1590s. Offering a far more detailed critical engagement with the plays than is available elsewhere, this volume situates the company in the theatrical and economic context of their time.

The essays gathered here focus on four different aspects: playing spaces, repertory, play-types, and performance style, beginning with essays devoted to touring conditions, performances in university towns, London inns and theatres, and the patronage system under Queen Elizabeth. Repertory studies, unique to this volume, consider the elements of the company's distinctive style, and how this style may have influenced, for example, Shakespeare's Henry V. Contributors explore two distinct genres, the morality and the history play, especially focussing on the use of stock characters and on male/female relationships.

Revising standard accounts of late Elizabeth theatre history, this collection shows that the Queen's Men, often understood as the last rear-guard of the old theatre, were a vital force that enjoyed continued success in the provinces and in London, representative of the abiding appeal of an older, more ostentatiously theatrical form of drama.


Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583–1603 is a vital and expansive contribution to repertory studies and serves as a microcosmic representation of current interests in the scholarship of early modern drama.’ Shakespeare

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