Author Archives: Donna Campbell

About Donna Campbell

Professor of English, Washington State University. Late nineteenth- and early 20th-century Americanist and digital humanities. and

New Books: American Writers and World War I by David A. Rennie


Looking at texts written throughout the careers of Edith Wharton, Ellen La Motte, Mary Borden, Thomas Boyd, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Laurence Stallings, and Ernest Hemingway, American Writers and World War I argues that authors’ war writing continuously evolved in response to developments in their professional and personal lives.

Recent research has focused on constituencies of identity–such as gender, race, and politics–registered in American Great War writing. Rather than being dominated by their perceived membership of such socio-political categories, this study argues that writers reacted to and represented the war in complex ways which were frequently linked to the exigencies of maintaining a career as a professional author. War writing was implicated in, and influenced by, wider cultural forces such as governmental censorship, the publishing business, advertising, and the Hollywood film industry.

American Writers and World War I argues that even authors’ hallmark ‘anti-war’ works are in fact characterized by an awareness of the war’s nuanced effects on society and individuals. By tracking authors’ war writing throughout their entire careers–in well-known texts, autobiography, correspondence, and neglected works–this study contends that writers’ reactions were multifaceted, and subject to change–in response to their developments as writers and individuals. This work also uncovers the hitherto unexplored importance of American cultural and literary precedents which offered writers means of assessing the war. Ultimately, the volume argues, American World War I writing was highly personal, complex, and idiosyncratic.

New Books: Wharton, Hemingway, and the Advent of Modernism, ed. Lisa Tyler

tylerWharton, Hemingway, and the Advent of Modernism is the first collection that examines the connections linking two major American writers of the twentieth century, Edith Wharton and Ernest Hemingway. In twelve critical essays, along with a foreword and an introduction, scholars from both camps explore the authors’ overlapping interests, contexts, and aesthetic techniques. Thematic sections highlight components in each author’s works that reveal their shared association with major trends in literary modernism, focusing on stylistic and formal experimentation, the Great War, European culture (including the expatriate movement), gender roles, technological advancements, and intertextualities between literature and popular texts. Together, the essays prove that comparative studies of Wharton and Hemingway open new avenues for understanding the broader aesthetic and cultural movements central to the development of American literary modernism in the early decades of the twentieth century. Contributors include Parley Ann Boswell, Dustin Faulstick, Anna Green, Peter Hays, Jennifer Haytock, Caroline Chamberlin Hellman, Ellen Andrews Knodt, Cecilia Macheski, Milena Radeva-Costello, Laura Rattray, Sirpa Salenius, Lisa Tyler, and Linda Wagner-Martin.

New Books: Modern Sentimentalism: Affect, Irony, and Female Authorship in Interwar America by Lisa Mendelman

mendelmanModern Sentimentalism examines how American female novelists reinvented sentimentalism in the modernist period. Just as the birth of the modern woman has long been imagined as the death of sentimental feeling, modernist literary innovation has been understood to reject sentimental aesthetics. Modern Sentimentalism reframes these perceptions of cultural evolution. Taking up icons such as the New Woman, the flapper, the free lover, the New Negro woman, and the divorcee, this book argues that these figures embody aspects of a traditional sentimentality while also recognizing sentiment as incompatible with ideals of modern selfhood. These double binds equally beleaguer the protagonists and shape the styles of writers like Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, and Jessie Fauset. ‘Modern sentimentalism’ thus translates nineteenth-century conventions of sincerity and emotional fulfillment into the skeptical, self-conscious modes of interwar cultural production.

Reading canonical and under-examined novels in concert with legal briefs, scientific treatises, and other transatlantic period discourse, and combining traditional and quantitative methods of archival research, Modern Sentimentalism demonstrates that feminine feeling, far from being peripheral to twentieth-century modernism, animates its central principles and preoccupations.

New Books: Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence: New Centenary Essays, ed. Arielle Zibrak

zibrakFollowing the publication of The Age of Innocence in 1920, Edith Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. To mark 100 years since the book’s first publication, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence: New Centenary Essays brings together leading scholars to explore cutting-edge critical approaches to Wharton’s most popular novel. Re-visiting the text through a wide range of contemporary critical perspectives, this book considers theories of mind and affect, digital humanities and media studies; narrational form; innocence and scandal; and the experience of reading the novel in the late twentieth century as the child of refugees. With an introduction by editor Arielle Zibrak that connects the 1920 novel to the sociocultural climate of 2020, this collection both celebrates and offers stimulating critical insights into this landmark novel of modern American literature.

Introduction: “Each Time You Happen to Me All Over Again”
Arielle Zibrak, University of Wyoming
1. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, and American Individualism
Carol J. Singley, Rutgers University-Camden
2. Edith Wharton’s Prose Spectacle in the Age of Cinema
Margaret A. Toth, Manhattan College
3. “You must tell me just what to do”: Action and Characterization in Wharton’s The Age of Innocence”
Gabi Kirilloff, Texas Christian University
4. “Isn’t That French?”: Edith Wharton Revisits the “International Theme”
Virginia Ricard, Bordeaux Montaigne University
5. Newland Archer’s Doubled Consciousness: Wharton, Psychology, and Narrational Form
Shari Goldberg, Franklin & Marshall College
6. “Trying It On” Again as Affect: Rethinking Feeling in The Age of Innocence
Margaret Jay Jesse, University of Alabama at Birmingham
7. Innocence and Scandal in Edith Wharton’s Old New York
Hildegard Hoeller, CUNY
8. The Age of Dissonance
Beth Nguyen, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Individualism, ambivalence, scandal, and belonging–all of these are associated with Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, in this stunning new collection of essays. Zibrak orchestrates a whole new set of innovative readings of the novel–and the 1934 film based on it. These essays treat its modernist affect and narrative style, along with its status as an international novel with France as its focus. In moving from a new digital study of Wharton’s verbs to the historical status of psychology before 1920, to the novel’s relation to Wharton’s “Old New York” novellas and her various plots for Age, this collection soars. It heralds a new energy that will advance Wharton Studies anew.” –  Dale M. Bauer, Professor of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Bringing significant insights to the novel’s characterization, narration, modernist and international contexts, gender politics, and 1934 film adaptation, this collection employs digital humanities, transhistorical, and interdisciplinary methodologies in exciting new ways and reintroduces us to the beauty and complexity of The Age of Innocence. These stimulating essays remind us of the enduring importance of Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work in a new age and inspire further avenues of scholarship.” –  Gary Totten, Professor and Chair of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

New Books: The New Edith Wharton Studies, ed. Jennifer Haytock and Laura Rattray

haytockThe New Edith Wharton Studies uncovers new evidence and presents new ideas that invite us to reconsider our understanding of one of America’s most highly acclaimed, versatile, and prolific writers. The volume addresses themes that have previously been missed or underdeveloped, and examines areas where previous scholarship does not take account of key, contemporary issues: Wharton and ecocriticism, Wharton and queer studies, Wharton and animal studies, Wharton and whiteness, and Wharton and contemporary psychology. Essays explore Wharton’s treatment of the poor in her emerging career, the ways in which French thinkers helped her envision community, the importance of Greece to Wharton, her transnationalism, the ongoing revelations of the author’s archives, and new perspectives on her agency in the literary marketplace. It addresses key themes and examines contemporary issues, while reassessing Edith Wharton’s life and career.

Introduction pp 1-12

By Jennifer Haytock, Laura Rattray

Part I – Self and Composition pp 13-62

  • Chapter 1 – Creative Process and Literary Form in Edith Wharton’s Archive pp 15-31 By Paul Ohler
  • Chapter 2 – Wharton’s Letters: Glimpses of the Whole Edith Wharton pp 32-47 By Julie Olin-Ammentorp
  • Chapter 3 – Edith Wharton and the Business of the Magazine Short Story pp 48-62 By Sarah Whitehead

Part II – International Wharton pp 63-110

  • Chapter 4 – Edith Wharton’s Odyssey pp 65-79
    By Myrto Drizou
  • Chapter 5 – Edith Wharton’s French Engagement pp 80-95
    By Virginia Ricard
  • Chapter 6 – Edith Wharton and Transnationalismpp 96-110
    By Donna Campbell

Part III – Wharton on the Margins pp 111-172

  • Chapter 7 – Edith Wharton’s Unprivileged Lives pp 113-128
    By Laura Rattray
  • Chapter 8 – Wharton, Insurance Culture, and Pain Management pp 129-142
    By Jennifer Travis
  • Chapter 9 – Edith Wharton’s Humanimal Pity pp 143-157
    By Shannon Brennan
  • Chapter 10 – Edith Wharton and the Writing of Whitenes spp 158-172
    By Jennifer Haytock

Part IV – Sex and Gender Revisited pp 173-230

  • Chapter 11 – Women, Art, and the Natural World in Edith Wharton’s Works pp 175-188
    By Gary Totten
  • Chapter 12 – Wharton and the Romance Plotpp 189-201
    By Linda Wagner-Martin
  • Chapter 13 – Masculine Modernity: Fathers, Sons, and Generational Absolution in Wharton’s Fiction pp 202-216
    By Melanie Dawson
  • Chapter 14 – Wharton’s Wayward Girls pp 217-230
    By Meredith Goldsmith


New Books: The Edith Wharton Murders: A Nick Hoffman Mystery by Lev Raphael


The Edith Wharton Murders is due out in its new edition with an introduction and foreword June 9th.

Nick Hoffman, desperate to get tenure, has been saddled with a thankless task: coordinating a conference on Edith Wharton that will demonstrate how his department and his university supports women’s issues. There’s been widespread criticism that SUM is really the State University of Men. Problem is, he’s forced to invite two warring Wharton societies, and the conflict between rival scholars escalates from mudslinging to murder. Nick’s job and whole career are on the line unless he can help solve the case and salvage the conference.

“Is vulgar literary taste sufficient motive for murder? Actually, killing is too kind for the vindictive scholars in Lev Raphael’s maliciously funny campus mystery The Edith Wharton Murders.”
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review [Read the full review]



New Books: Edith Wharton and Genre: Beyond Fiction by Laura Rattray


Based on extensive new archival research, Edith Wharton and Genre: Beyond Fiction offers the first study of Wharton’s full engagement with original writing in genres outside those with which she has been most closely identified. So much more than an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, Wharton is reconsidered in this book as a controversial playwright, a gifted poet, a trailblazing travel writer, an innovative and subversive critic, a hugely influential design writer, and an author who overturned the conventions of autobiographical form. Her versatility across genres did not represent brief sidesteps, temporary diversions from what has long been read as her primary role as novelist. Each was pursued fully and whole-heartedly, speaking to Wharton’s very sense of herself as an artist and her connected vision of artistry and art. The stories of these other Edith Whartons, born through her extraordinary dexterity across a wide range of genres, and their impact on our understanding of her career, are the focus of this new study, revealing a bolder, more diverse, subversive and radical writer than has long been supposed.

New Books: Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and the Place of Culture by Julie Olin-Ammentorp

catherEdith Wharton and Willa Cather wrote many of the most enduring American novels from the first half of the twentieth century, including Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence, and Cather’s O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Yet despite their perennial popularity and their status as major American novelists, Wharton (1862–1937) and Cather (1873–1947) have rarely been studied together. Indeed, critics and scholars seem to have conspired to keep them at a distance: Wharton is seen as “our literary aristocrat,” an author who chronicles the lives of the East Coast, Europe-bound elite, while Cather is considered a prairie populist who describes the lives of rugged western pioneers. These depictions, though partially valid, nonetheless rely on oversimplifications and neglect the striking and important ways the works of these two authors intersect.

The first comparative study of Edith Wharton and Willa Cather in thirty years, this book combines biographical, historical, and literary analyses with a focus on place and aesthetics to reveal Wharton’s and Cather’s parallel experiences of dislocation, their relationship to each other as writers, and the profound similarities in their theories of fiction. Julie Olin-Ammentorp provides a new assessment of the affinities between Wharton and Cather by exploring the importance of literary and geographic place in their lives and works, including the role of New York City, the American West, France, and travel. In doing so she reveals the two authors’ shared concern about the culture of place and the place of culture in the United States.

New Books: What a Library Means to a Woman by Sheila Liming


Sheila Liming explores the connection between libraries and self-making in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American culture, from the 1860s to the 1930s, focusing on Edith Wharton and her remarkable collection of books. She argues for a multifaceted understanding of authorship by linking Wharton’s literary persona to her library, which was, as she saw it, the site of her self-making.

A generous reassessment of Edith Wharton and materialized cultures. With this exceptional interpretation of the modern bookshelf, Sheila Liming offers page after page of unanticipated insight into gender and literary production. This is mandatory reading for those of us committed, like Wharton, to harboring ‘an ethos of collecting’—and for those of us, like this brave critic, committed to Wharton herself.