“A Shadowed Agony in the Garden”: The Anti-Pastoral Eden of the American West in Crane’s “The Blue Hotel” and McCarthy’s Blood Meridian

©Mary Crockford June 11, 2017 If the American West can claim a process of creation, it would not be the narrativized “romantic heroic life of the Plains” or rediscovered Garden of Eden portrayed in colorist art and literature of the turn-of-the-century United States. Rather, it could be described as a precipitous and painful labor characterized […]

Romancing the Repulsive: Gothic Resistance in Selected Readings from Stephen Crane’s The Black Riders and Other Lines

©Mary Crockford March 26, 2017 Themes of ambivalence and depersonalization, and experimentation with form are all characteristics of literary naturalism. Spare prose, dark symbolism and frank sexual and violent language in particular revealed practitioners’ disillusionment with urban landscapes encouraging pernicious ethnic, gender and socioeconomic segregation. Traditional religion and psychology clashed with the humanist philosophies of […]

Mad Love: Science and Surveillance in Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

©Mary Crockford November 13, 2016 The sensation novel, with its madwoman in the attic and other “sensational themes and devices,” is reflexively associated with the British Victorian novel as popularized by Wilkie Collins’ Woman in White and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Nevertheless, the form has American Nationalist-Romantic precursors in numerous ghost and other “domestic gothic” […]

The Harrow and the Sword: Anger, Apocalypse and Calls for Revolution in Blake’s “Milton” and Shelley’s “The Mask of Anarchy”

©Mary Crockford July 31, 2016 Use of “mythic modes or mythopoeic strategies” in art in order to make “ethical and emotional appeals” regarding political and moral issues was not exclusive to the Romantics (Hopper 11), but the introduction of Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful inspired […]

Two Voices, One Purpose: The Slave Narratives of Mary Prince and Olaudah Equiano

© July 25, 2016 Mary Crockford The slave narrative has become an important genre in the British Romantic literature canon. The narratives of Mary Prince and Olaudah Equiano have many aspects in common, as well as compelling differences. Both provide “rich details…about various aspects of enslavement” of West Indian and African blacks (Maddison-MacFadyen 653). Each […]

Sheltering and Space in Dorothy Wordsworth’s “The Grasmere Journal” and “Grasmere–A Fragment”

Dorothy Wordsworth’s writings and life have too often been viewed in the shadow of those of her brother, William. But far from being the other Wordsworth or simply “William’s satellite” (Brownstein, 48), her observations and experiences preserved in The Grasmere Journal and “Grasmere—A Fragment” reveal a woman whose intellect and grasp of the poetics of […]

Gothic and Grimm: The grotesque and carnivalesque in Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and Mann’s “Death in Venice”

©3 July 2016 Mary Crockford For Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa and Thomas Mann’s Gustav von Aschenbach, mind-body connection has deep and pervasive significance. Setting, dialogue, interpersonal dynamics, and distortion reveal protagonists embodying trauma and alienation as a result of war and industrialization, evidenced in warped perceptions of reality, and internalization of their trauma leading to […]