Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hansen, Hansen and Hart

No, this is not a post about some super-successful law firm started by English alums. It is a post about two new faculty books--one by Jim Hansen and another co-edited by Hansen and Matt Hart.

According the good people at SUNY Press, Jim's new book--Terror and Irish Modernism: The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett--is in print and available as of yesterday. Here is the book description from the press' website:

"Terror and Irish Modernism offers a synoptic overview of modern Irish fiction. Covering more than two centuries of literary production, Jim Hansen locates the root structure of modern Irish fiction in the masculine gender anxiety of one of the nineteenth century’s most popular literary genres: the Gothic. Addressing both the decolonization of Ireland and the politics of literary form, Hansen sheds new light on canonical works by Maria Edgeworth, C. R. Maturin, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett by reading them all as part of the generic tradition of the Irish Gothic. He focuses in particular on how the Irish Gothic tradition translated the English Gothic’s female-confinement narrative into a story about confined, feminized male protagonists. In reading this male gender-disorientation as the foundational condition of modern Irish political identity, Terror and Irish Modernism provides a thoroughly new genealogy of modern Irish fiction."


The other new book I want to announce here--Hansen and Hart's Contemporary Literature and the State--actually first appeared several months ago, as a co-edited special issue of the scholarly journal Contemporary Literature. Now, though, it has also been published as a free-standing paperback by the University of Wisconsin Press. Here, once again, is the book description available at the press' website:

"Contemporary Literature and the State challenges the critical opposition between the monolithic state and the individual artist. The volume collects essays on writers as different as Samuel Beckett and Ngozi Adichie and covers historical and geographical contexts from Yorkshire to Singapore, San Francisco to Cape Town. Featuring new and established critical voices, Contemporary Literature and the State is an important new contribution to debates about the politics of literature, coming at a time when state power appears both more arbitrary and more necessary than ever."


Last week, as many of this blog's local readers will know, the university's weekly paper Inside Illinois ran a story about the enormous scholarly productivity of the faculty in the department of English, complete with a listing of faculty books published so far in 2009. Terror and Irish Modernism was mentioned in the story, but Contemporary Literature and the State was not. So, if you click through and look at that story now, make a mental note to add this book to the tally! And in any event, congratulations are clearly due now to the scholarly firm of Hansen, Hansen and Hart for the publication of these two interesting and provocative new books. So: congratulations!

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