In honor of Back to School time and the fact that I’m low on ideas right now, here’s a list of books by professors I had during my undergraduate career at Yale. Holla at that English department, am I right? Only a few of them are fiction, but if you like scholarly work or you’re an English major you might find something interesting here.
And if you’re wondering if I ever took classes outside of the English department…the answer is pretty much no. Only when absolutely necessary.
Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley
Dar Oakley—the first Crow in all of history with a name of his own—was born two thousand years ago. When a man learns his language, Dar finally gets the chance to tell his story. He begins his tale as a young man, and how he went down to the human underworld and got hold of the immortality meant for humans, long before Julius Caesar came into the Celtic lands; how he sailed West to America with the Irish monks searching for the Paradise of the Saints; and how he continuously went down into the land of the dead and returned. Through his adventures in Ka, the realm of Crows, and around the world, he found secrets that could change the humans’ entire way of life—and now may be the time to finally reveal them.
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace.
Master Class in Fiction Writing by Adam Sexton
Many writers believe that if they just find the right teacher or workshop, their writing will reach new heights of skill. But why not learn from the best? In his popular workshops in New York City, creative writing instructor Adam Sexton has found that the most effective way for any writer to grasp on the elements of fiction is to study the great masters. Master Class in Fiction Writing is your personal crash course in creative writing, with the world’s most accomplished fiction writers as your guides.
The Trouble with Normal by Michael Warner
Michael Warner, one of our most brilliant social critics, argues that gay marriage and other moves toward normalcy are bad not just for the gays but for everyone. In place of sexual status quo, Warner offers a vision of true sexual autonomy that will forever change the way we think about sex, shame, and identity.
Paper Minds: Literature and the Ecology of Consciousness by Jonathan Kramnick
How do poems and novels create a sense of mind? What does literary criticism say in conversation with other disciplines that addresses problems of consciousness? In Paper Minds, Jonathan Kramnick takes up these vital questions, exploring the relations between mind and environment, the literary forms that uncover such associations, and the various fields of study that work to illuminate them.
It by Joseph Roach
That mysterious characteristic “It”—“the easily perceived but hard-to-define quality possessed by abnormally interesting people”—is the subject of Joseph Roach’s engrossing new book, which crisscrosses centuries and continents with a deep playfulness that entertains while it enlightens. Roach traces the origins of “It” back to the period following the Restoration, persuasively linking the sex appeal of today’s celebrity figures with the attraction of those who lived centuries before. The book includes guest appearances by King Charles II, Samuel Pepys, Flo Ziegfeld, Johnny Depp, Elinor Glyn, Clara Bow, the Second Duke of Buckingham, John Dryden, Michael Jackson, and Lady Diana, among others.
London in the Age of Shakespeare by Lawrence Manley
London in the age of Shakespeare was one of the largest and most important cities of Europe. Poets and poetasters, rhetoricians and preachers were able to use the city as an object for displays of technical rhetoric in ballads, bawdy jests, sermons, and tales. There is today an unparalleled wealth of contemporary descriptions which give us a vivid picture of what life was like in London in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Professor Manley has collected a rich variety of such documents on Shakespeare’s London, many of which have never before been translated into English
Beautiful Fools by R Clifton Spargo
In this evocative and meticulously detailed novel about the last romance of one of America’s greatest literary couples, R. Clifton Spargo crafts an exhilarating portrait of the passionate yet tragically dysfunctional relationship between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke by David Bromwich
This biography of statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), covering three decades, is the first to attend to the complexity of Burke’s thought as it emerges in both the major writings and private correspondence. David Bromwich reads Burke’s career as an imperfect attempt to organize an honorable life in the dense medium he knew politics to be.
The Victorian Verse Novel by Stefanie Markovits
The Victorian Verse-Novel: Aspiring to Life considers the rise of a hybrid generic form, the verse-novel, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Such poems combined epic length with novelistic plots in the attempt to capture not a heroic past but the quotidian present. Victorian verse-novels also tended to be rough-mixed, their narrative sections interspersed with shorter, lyrical verses in varied measures. In flouting the rules of contemporary genre theory, which saw poetry as the purview of the eternal and ideal and relegated the everyday to the domain of novelistic prose, verse-novels proved well suited to upsetting other hierarchies, as well, including those of gender and class.
An Enlarged Heart by Cynthia Zarin
An Enlarged Heart, the exquisitely written prose debut from prize-winning poet Cynthia Zarin, is a poignantly understated exploration of the author’s experiences with love, work, and the surprise of time’s passage. In these intertwined episodes from her New York world and beyond, she charts the shifting and complicated parameters of contemporary life and family in writing that feels nearly fictional in its richness of scene, dialogue, and mood.
Fallible Authors: Chaucer’s Pardoner and the Wife of Bath by Alastair Minnis
This innovative book places these “fallible authors” within the full intellectual context that gave them meaning. Alastair Minnis magisterially examines the impact of Aristotelian thought on preaching theory, the controversial practice of granting indulgences, religious and medical categorizations of deviant bodies, theological attempts to rationalize sex within marriage, Wycliffite doctrine that made authority dependent on individual grace and raised the specter of Donatism, and heretical speculation concerning the possibility of female teachers
The American Play: 1787-2000 by Marc Robinson
In this brilliant study, Marc Robinson explores more than two hundred years of plays, styles, and stagings of American theater. Mapping the changing cultural landscape from the late eighteenth century to the start of the twenty-first, he explores how theater has—and has not—changed and offers close readings of plays by O’Neill, Stein, Wilder, Miller, and Albee, as well as by important but perhaps lesser known dramatists such as Wallace Stevens, Jean Toomer, Djuna Barnes, and many others.
Bardic Nationalism by Katie Trumpener
This magisterial work links the literary and intellectual history of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Britain’s overseas colonies during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to redraw our picture of the origins of cultural nationalism, the lineages of the novel, and the literary history of the English-speaking world.
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