Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic
Published: December 2015© 2015
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 176 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
176 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.41 in
Throughout her literary and critical career, Canadian writer Carol Shields (1935–2003) resisted simple categorization. Her novels are elegant puzzles that confront the reader with the ambiguity of meaning and narrative, yet their position within Shields’ critical feminist project has, until now, been obscured.
In Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic, Brenda Beckman-Long illuminates that project through the study of Shields’ extensive oeuvre, including her fiction and criticism. Beckman-Long brings depth to her analysis through close readings of six novels, including the award-winning The Stone Diaries. Elliptical, open-ended, and concerned with women writing about women, these novels reveal Shields’ critique of dominant masculine discourses and her deep engagement with the long tradition of women’s life writing. Beckman-Long’s original archival research attests to Shields’ preoccupation with the changing efforts of waves of feminist activism and writing.
A much needed reappraisal of Shields’s innovative work, Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic contributes to the scholarship on life writing and autobiography, literary criticism, and feminist and critical theory.
Introduction: Shields as Writer-Critic: The Politics of Self-Representation and Autobiography
Chapter One: The Problem of the Genre: The Autobiographical Pact in Small Ceremonies and The Box Garden
Chapter Two: The Problem of the Author: Absence and the Epitaph of Victim in Swann
Chapter Three: The Problem of the Body: Romance as Metaphysical Ruin in The Republic of Love
Chapter Four: The Problem of the Subject: The Stone Diaries as Apocryphal Journal
Chapter Five: The Problem of the Subject of Feminism: Unless as Meta-Autobiography
Chapter Six: Conclusion
"Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic is an intelligent contribution to Shields scholarship, and a rewarding read for students and scholars alike."Gillian Roberts, University of Nottingham, Contemporary Women's Writing, 12:3, Nov 2018
"…a valuable contemporary reappraisal, convincingly arguing that for Shields writing is a social and political act…"Carol Ann Howells, University of London/University of Reading, British Journal of Canadian Studies, vol 31 no 1
“No-one has argued as coherently and persuasively for a reading of all of Shields’s fiction that traces her development as a writer-critic from its beginning.”Neil Besner, Department of English, University of Winnipeg
“Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic is a valuable study of Shields’ complex relationship with autobiography, biography, and authorship. Beckman-Long’s interpretations are original, interesting, and persuasive. They open a new door to this writer’s novels.”Aritha van Herk, Department of English, University of Calgary