Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic

By Brenda Beckman-Long

© 2015

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.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.4in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic contributes to the scholarship on life writing and autobiography, literary criticism, and feminist and critical theory.

Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic

By Brenda Beckman-Long

© 2015

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.4in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    “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
  • Author Information

    Brenda Beckman-Long is an assistant professor of English at Briercrest College and Seminary, which is affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Table of contents

    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

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