The scholars and creative writers of Minnesota’s English faculty publish books that kickstart conversations and shift paradigms. Championed by leading presses, their work expands and enhances their fields.
Timothy Brennan, Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021)
The first comprehensive biography of the most influential, controversial, and celebrated Palestinian intellectual of the twentieth century. As someone who studied under Edward Said and remained a friend until his death in 2003, Timothy Brennan had unprecedented access to his thesis adviser’s ideas and legacy. In this authoritative work, Said, the pioneer of postcolonial studies, a tireless champion for his native Palestine, and an erudite literary critic, emerges as a self-doubting, tender, eloquent advocate of literature’s dramatic effects on politics and civic life.
“Said’s best work, Brennan argues, emerged from his conviction that 'the humanities have political consequences.' A rich overview of Said’s academic career features detailed treatments of his major texts, and Brennan goes into detail as well on his subject’s fraught connection to the Palestine National Council, and his role as a celebrity. Invaluable reading for students of Said or the postcolonial critical movement his work sparked." — Publishers Weekly
Peter Campion, One Summer Evening at the Falls (University of Chicago Press, 2021)
The poems in this collection capture the fantastic feeling of falling in love, all while keeping eyes on its lifecycles of crashing aftermaths, lingering regrets, guilt, and renewal. Peter Campion brings us to a series of scenes—on the damp patio, in the darkroom, and along the interstate—where we find familiar characters, lovers, and strangers.
“In this collection, Campion conceives of a formula to create out of the ‘less Romantic. More trained automatic’ of day-to-day life in the US. The poems here reiterate Campion’s exceptional sensitivity to sound, and his ability to listen and allow for the voices coming into his lines to become as integral to the poet’s conception of the self as any voice from within. With this rare ability, Campion composes poetry that places the American scene outside of itself and opens it to the rest of the world like no other American poet.” — Ahmad Almallah, author of Bitter English
Peter Campion, Radical as Reality: Form and Freedom in American Poetry (University of Chicago Press, 2019)
What do American poets mean when they talk about freedom? How can form help us understand questions about what shapes we want to give our poetic lives, and how much power we have to choose those shapes? For that matter, what do we even mean by we? In this collection of essays, Peter Campion gathers his thoughts on these questions and more to form an evolutionary history of the past century of American poetry.
"I remember some of these essays, when they first appeared in the best journals, as vitally acerbic and fiercely challenging. And they remain so—but the raw material of the necessary book that collects them is revealed to be wonder rather than judgment. Here, poet-critic Campion celebrates the spaciousness and splendor of a found family of American poets, less fathered by the great men of Modernism and their heir, Robert Lowell, than fostered in their own diverse practices." — Katie Peterson, editor of Robert Lowell’s New Selected Poems
Ray Gonzalez, Feel Puma: Poems (University of New Mexico Press, 2020)
In Feel Puma, Ray Gonzalez traces his love of reading, philosophy, and learning with poems constantly in conversation—with each other, with texts by other writers and the writers themselves, with world history and his personal history and people he has encountered. Woven over three sections, this unique collection is a complex and gorgeous dive into creativity and the inner life of a poet at the height of his craft.
"Gonzalez is a serious and seriously accomplished poet whose meditations on history—the history of literature, violence, art, our nation—are profound, intelligent, and moving. He is also a poet deeply attuned to the vast literary conversation around him, a conversation that moves and transforms with history, a conversation that lives in these poems." — Kevin Prufer, author of How He Loved Them
Michael Hancher, The Tenniel Illustrations to the "Alice" Books, second edition (Ohio State University Press, 2019)
Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books are among the most popular works of English literature thanks in part to the 92 indelible illustrations. Hancher situates their outstanding success in several historical contexts. The original 12 chapters have been revised and updated throughout. Six chapters are entirely new.
"This vastly enlarged and splendidly illustrated new edition of Michael Hancher's already indispensable book is a must-read, not merely for those who relish the work of John Tenniel and Lewis Carroll, but for anyone interested in how the surprisingly complex processes of nineteenth-century illustration actually worked during the golden age of wood engraving." — Patrick Leary, co-founder of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)
Douglas Kearney, Sho (Wave Books, 2021)
Eschewing performative typography, Douglas Kearney’s Sho aims to hit crooked licks with straight-seeming sticks. Navigating the complex penetrability of language, these poems are sonic in their espousal of Black vernacular strategies, while examining histories and current events through the lyric, brand new dances, and other performances. Both dazzling and devastating, Sho is a genius work of literary precision, wordplay, farce, and critical irony. In his “stove-like imagination,” Kearney has concocted poems that destabilize the spectacle, leaving looky-loos with an important uncertainty about the intersection between violence and entertainment.
"What is remarkable about Kearney’s poetry, before anything else, is how many different things it does well. There are so many potential inroads, so many different intellectual and affective preoccupations, and so many poetic and artistic forms at play." — Colorado Review
Josephine Lee, editor, Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2020)
This project offers the largest and most comprehensive collection of scholarship on Asian American literature and culture to date. With original essays on everything from Asian American literary classics to experimental theater, from K-pop to online gaming, the encyclopedia guides both established scholars and readers new to this study through the extensive landscape of Asian American writing and cultural production. More than 100 essays on varied historical periods, geographical contexts, and artistic modes offer an extensive examination of racial representation and activism, interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to literary work, ethnic communities, transnational and transpacific flows, and genres such as speculative fiction, the detective novel, and melodrama. . . . The collection shows the exciting and profound new directions that currently drive the study of Asian American literary and cultural traditions.
Nabil Matar, Mediterranean Captivity through Arab Eyes, 1517-1798 (Brill, 2021)
The post-Lepanto Mediterranean was the scene of “small wars,” to use Fernand Braudel’s phrase, which resulted in acts of piracy and captivity. Thousands upon thousands of Europeans, Arabs, and Turks were seized. Europeans wrote extensively about their ordeals, making captivity a key subject in Europe’s Mediterranean history. The Arabs wrote little because their religious culture militated against such writings, which would be construed as expressing disaffection with the will of God. Nor were there detailed records and registers of captives (their names, places of origin, and ransom prices) similar to what was kept in the European archives. Contrary, however, to what some historians have claimed, there was a distinct Arabic narrative of captivity that survives in anecdotes, recollections, reports, miracles, letters, fatawa, exempla, and short biographies in both verse and prose. Cumulatively, these sources constitute the Arabic qiṣṣas al-asrā, or stories of the captives, in the native language and idiom of the men and women of the early modern Mediterranean.
Kathryn Nuernberger, The Witch of Eye: Essays (Sarabande Books, 2021)
This amazingly wise and nimble collection investigates the horrors inflicted on so-called “witches” of the past. The Witch of Eye unearths salves, potions, and spells meant to heal, yet interpreted by inquisitors as evidence of evil. The author describes torture and forced confessions alongside accounts of gentleness of legendary midwives. In one essay about a trial, we learn through folklore that Jesus’s mother was a midwife who cured her own son’s rheumatism. In other essays there are subtle parallels to contemporary discourse around abortion and environmental destruction. Nuernberger weaves in her own experiences, too. Her researched material is eye-opening, lively, and often funny. An absolutely thrilling collection.
"This book is a social history, threaded through with folklore, mythology, current events, and glimpses into the author's own marriage. It is a poetic and hypnotic trance of a read." — Booklist
Kathryn Nuernberger, Rue: Poems (BOA Editions, 2020)
"Kathryn Nuernberger’s dazzlingly imaginative third collection is in part an examination of plants with medicinal properties, specifically as birth control. It is also, though, a testament to the generations of women who carried this knowledge on, whose names are lost and whose 'witchy' wisdom the poems resurrect. The poems are filled with the fantastic but grounded in the middle of a modern woman’s life, when desire and regret threaten to upend everything we have been told to want. Her work is frequently hilarious (in the poem 'Pissy Bitch Middle-Aged Happy,' the speaker confesses: 'If you asked, I’d describe myself / as looking a bit like a pissed-off possum'), yet it is just as often intoxicatingly ruthless in its truth-telling. . . . Nuernberger turns the confessional mode inside-out—the revelation of the personal becomes an indictment of a culture that seeks to alienate women from their own bodies, fearing the power of women who own their age, their sexuality and their fierce determination to become their fullest selves." — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Katherine Scheil, co-editor with Graham Holderness, Shakespeare and Biography (Berghahn Books, 2020)
From Shakespeare’s religion to his wife to his competitors in the world of early modern theatre, biographers have approached the question of the Bard’s life from numerous angles. Shakespeare & Biography offers a fresh look at the biographical questions connected with the famous playwright’s life, through essays and reflections written by prominent international scholars and biographers.
Katherine Scheil, editor, Shakespeare and Stratford (Berghahn Books, 2019)
As the site of literary pilgrimage since the eighteenth century, the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the topic of hundreds of imaginary portrayals, Stratford is ripe for analysis, both in terms of its factual existence and its fictional afterlife. The essays in this volume consider the various manifestations of the physical and metaphorical town on the Avon, across time, genre and place, from America to New Zealand, from children’s literature to wartime commemorations. We meet many Stratfords in this collection, real and imaginary, and the interplay between the two generates new visions of the place.
Kim Todd, Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters” (HarperCollins, 2021)
A vivid social history that brings to light the “girl stunt reporters” of the Gilded Age who went undercover to expose corruption and abuse in America, and redefined what it meant to be a woman and a journalist—pioneers whose influence continues to be felt today. In the waning years of the nineteenth century, women journalists across the United States risked reputation and their own safety to expose the hazardous conditions under which many Americans lived and worked. In various disguises, they stole into sewing factories to report on child labor, fainted in the streets to test public hospital treatment, posed as lobbyists to reveal corrupt politicians. Inventive writers whose in-depth narratives made headlines for weeks at a stretch, these “girl stunt reporters” changed laws, helped launch a labor movement, championed women’s rights, and redefined journalism for the modern age.
"In Todd’s able hands, we learn about these daring young women, about their lives and times, their work, their editors and mentors, their torments and loves, their interconnections, and, best of all, their real legacy. These young reporters demonstrated the power of personal narrative to rivet public attention on society’s seen and unseen ills and incite the quest for remedy—a tradition that endures today." — Brooke Kroeger, author of Nellie Bly: Daredevil. Reporter. Feminist