Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, a literary theme, or film.

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Critical Insights Themes

Critical Insights Themes explores literary themes in considerable depth and lends support to many of the works and authors Critical Insights already published. Each volume in the series focuses on an individual literary theme with authoritative scholarship suitable for students and teachers alike.

 

 
Critical Insights:
MODERN JAPANESE LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Essays in this volume explore the search for national identity and examine the work of Murakami Haruki, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, and Futabatei Shimei

 
Critical Insights:
FLASH FICTION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This first-of-its-kind volume on flash fiction-prose of no more than 1,000 words-tracks the development and critical context of this international literary genre.

 
Critical Insights:
CIVIL RIGHTS LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This volume not only examines key works of the African-American civil rights debate past and present, it also explores issues of gender equality and sexual orientation integral to civil rights studies.

 
Critical Insights:
PARANOIA, FEAR & ALIENATION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This essay compilation investigates common motifs found in paranoid literature-such as dystopian settings and unreliable narrators-and studies the work of prominent authors in the genre, including Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and more.

 
Critical Insights:
SOUTHWESTERN LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Novels of the American Southwest most often deal with battles between man and the desert landscape, quests of Manifest Destiny, tales of the Old West, and cross-cultural conflicts between white American settlers and Native American tribes, including the Navajo and Apache. This volume explores these and many other themes, found in the works of such authors as Willa Cather, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, and more.

 
Critical Insights:
HOLOCAUST LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This volume takes an in-depth look at the literature that came out of The Holocaust, from non-fiction accounts like Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl and Elie Wiesel's Night to fictionalized novels such as Sophie's Choice by William Styron.

 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN WRITERS IN EXILE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

For many American writers, living abroad has been a necessary task to finding the freedom, identity, and perspective that the United States has failed to offer. Writers profiled and analyzed in this volume include Henry James, Ezra Pound, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and members of the "Lost Generation" such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot.

 
Critical Insights:
CONTEMPORARY IMMIGRANT SHORT FICTION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

The life of an immigrant living in America is a difficult one, as immigrants often find themselves struggling with their families, their sense of identity, and the balance between past and present cultures. Essays in this volume review and analyze contemporary short stories by such authors as Junot Diaz, Sui Sin Far, William Saroyan, and many more.

 
Critical Insights:
HARLEM RENAISSANCE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This compilation of essays takes a closer look at this pivotal point in African American history, as well as its origins, identity, portrayal of women, and rediscovered authors.

 
Critical Insights:
POLITICAL FICTION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Combining richness of interpretation and the intellectual challenge to readers, this volume surveys the vast theme of political fiction. Four contextual essays discuss prevailing themes within the genre, including the Cold War period and the aftermath of 9/11.
 
Critical Insights:
MAGICAL REALISM


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Several essays discuss the struggle between the hegemonic imposition of western modernity and subaltern, ethnicized, nonwestern conceptualizations in the Third World.
 
Critical Insights:
VIRGINIA WOOLF & 20TH CENTURY WOMEN WRITERS


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This volume examines a diverse set of texts published by notable women in the mid-20th century. Essays survey the critical conversation regarding these works, explore their historical, societal and cultural contexts, and offer close and comparative readings of key texts in the genre through a variety of critical approaches.
 
Critical Insights:
LGBTQ LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Outstanding, in-depth scholarship by renowned literary critics; great starting point for students seeking an introduction to the theme and the critical discussions surrounding it.
 
Critical Insights:
CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN FICTION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This volume addresses the key authors and works in contemporary Canadian fiction. Essays survey the critical conversation regarding these works, explore the cultural and historical contexts, and offer comparative readings of key texts in the genre.
 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN SHORT STORY


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Several essays survey the critical conversation regarding American creative non-fiction, an interesting collection of memoirs, autobiographies, travel and nature guides and essays and explore the genre’s cultural and historical contexts and offer close and comparative reading of key texts in the genre.
 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN CREATIVE NON-FICTION


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Several essays survey the critical conversation regarding American creative non-fiction, an interesting collection of memoirs, autobiographies, travel and nature guides and essays and explore the genre’s cultural and historical contexts and offer close and comparative reading of key texts in the genre.
 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN MULTICULUTRAL IDENTITY


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

The editors of The American Identity examine the American character, life in the “melting pot,” and the many facets of American identity in popular literature. Close readings of the most important works in this genre sheds a new light on the study of this wide-ranging theme.
 
Critical Insights:
VIOLENCE IN LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This collection draws together discussions of violence and storytelling from a number of perspectives. Historical contexts range from ancient Greece to postcolonial Africa to the American West, and topics considered include the role of the witness, how place affects our understanding of conflict, the aestheticization of violence, how trauma is written on the body, and contemporary war stories.
 
Critical Insights:
THE SLAVE NARRATIVE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

This volume includes chapters on the more widely read slave narratives, including those by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Solomon Northup.
 
Critical Insights:
RUSSIA'S GOLDEN AGE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

An exploration of the authors and literary works that identify with the Golden Age of Russian literature, this volume examines the prominent themes of the period.
 
Critical Insights:
MIDWESTERN LITERATURE


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

An exploration of the authors and literary works that identify with the diverse area that covers 12 states, Midwestern Literature examines the prominent themes and stories of the American midwest.
 
Critical Insights:
GENDER, SEX AND SEXUALITY


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Great starting point for students seeking an introduction to the theme of gender, sex, and sexuality and the critical discussions surrounding it.
 
Critical Insights:
THE AMERICAN THRILLER


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

Edited by Gary Hoppenstand, Professor of American Studies at Michigan State University, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the American thriller, a genre in which “ordinary” heroes are faced with an enemy set on destroying them or something treasured such as freedom or democracy.
 
Critical Insights:
THE AMERICAN COMIC BOOK


One volume, 300 pages
List Price: $105

An exploration of the authors and literary works that identify with The American Comic Book this volume examines the prominent themes and stories of the genre.
 
Critical Insights:
THE GRAPHIC NOVEL


One volume, 312 pages
List Price:$105

Critical Insights: The Graphic Novel offers an examination and analysis of the contemporary graphic novel as literature. Specific attention will be paid to the use of narrative genre in the graphic novel (e.g. the superhero graphic novel, the crime narrative graphic novel, the horror graphic novel, and the realistic/fantastic graphic novel).
 
Critical Insights:
PULP FICTION OF THE 20s & 30s


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

From their origin at the end of the nineteenth century to their decline in the 1950s, "pulp" magazines entertained the masses with lurid stories in such genres as adventure, Western, romance, crime, fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Notable publications, such as Weird Tales, also served as apprenticeships for many new writers, including H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith.
 
Critical Insights:
SOUTHERN GOTHIC LITERATURE


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

American Southern Gothic Literature presents one of the few book-length surveys of the genre available today, in a diverse collection of representative texts from a group of international critics. In addition to exemplary novels from established writers, such as Edora Welty, Flannery O’Conner, Carson McCullers, and Cormac McCarthy, works explored here include poetry, a play, and a fairy tale novella.
 
Critical Insights:
LITERATURE OF PROTEST


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

The literature of protest is defined as fiction and poetry that emerges from minority social positions and will critique majority status quo conditions. This literature covers a wide range of periods and will emerge from a variety of international authors and events, from American abolitionist narratives to the critique of the totalitarianism in 1920s Soviet politics.
 
Critical Insights:
CRISIS OF FAITH


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

Rooted religiously in the texts of the Old and New Testament, the term crisis of faith is a common phrase that evokes intense spiritual strife and doubt, the eternal struggle between good and evil. Since that time, the term has become a pervasive theme of literature, manifesting itself within and embodying a broad range of human affairs and secular ideals, from the moral ambiguities of patriotism and war to mankind’s critical questioning of meaning and purpose in an increasingly modern world.
 
Critical Insights:
THE AMERICAN DREAM


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

"The American Dream" is a phrase that has become an essential component of the American experience, a phrase that, once entered into the national lexicon, has come to define our nation’s identity, underlying nearly every aspect of our lives. And since the birth of the founding document of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the idea of "the American Dream" has become a pervasive and frequently deconstructed theme within the canon of American literature.
 
Critical Insights:
CRIME & DETECTIVE FICTION


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

Among the most popular of literary forms, crime fiction has played a central role in the development of national literatures for than a century. Crime and Detective Fiction examines practices of crime writing in American literature and in regions as far and wide as China, Japan, and Scandinavia. This inclusivity results in a diversity of perspectives, in terms of culture, as well as the significance of point of view in telling the tale of a crime.
 
Critical Insights:
CONTEMPORARY SPECULATIVE FICTION


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

Speculative fiction has a long and progressive history, from the mythos of J.R.R. Tolkien to the radical alternativity of China Miéville and the ecofeminism of Suzanne Collins. The last twenty years has witnessed a surge in the critical reception of speculative and fiction, as more work continue to move beyond the Tolkien tradition and open up the pertinent discussion of the permeable boundary between fantasy and science fiction.
 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN SPORTS FICTION


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

American Sports Literature presents new essays on the significance of sports fiction in American society and culture. Sports fiction in the United States, beginning in the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century, engages a broad spectrum of social and cultural issues. This volume, part of the Critical Insights series, presents an in-depth study of these issues, while providing readers an engaging exploration of the genre.
 
Critical Insights:
AMERICAN ROAD LITERATURE


One volume, 368 pages
List Price: $105

An exploration of "cruising" America, Highways through the Heartland: American Road Literature examines the prominent themes and stories of the American road narrative. Beginning with the westward thrust of early America’s seaboard colonies to the romanticized and philosophical road narratives of the Beat Generation, the American experience—its ideals, dreams, and subsequent disillusionments—has been quintessentially linked to the road.
 
Critical Insights:
GOOD & EVIL


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

Good and evil have existed throughout human history, and humanity has been attempting to come to grips with the idea of them for just as long. From allegorical morality tales to cathartic horror stories to all-to-real personal narratives of unspeakable events, literature has always provided an especially powerful medium for the study of good and evil.
 
Critical Insights:
FAMILY


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," begins Leo Tolstoy's classic Anna Karenina. Like the best family stories, it enlarges what seem like everyday domestic tribulations into an epic full of love and intense hatred, joy and stifled disappointment. Stretching all the way back to the earliest Greek dramas, the theme of family is truly one of the great themes of literature.
 
Critical Insights:
WAR


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

From the Iliad and Shakespeare to documentary films about the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century, this volume, though it can only sample from the vast body of war-related literature and film, provides both an introduction and an intriguing cross-section of the field. In the words of the volumes' editor, "For most war writers, it is the person who hasn't witnessed war with whom they most desperately want to speak."
 
Critical Insights:
THE HERO'S QUEST


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Aneas, even The Lord of the Rings' Frodo-their stories thrill us with their adventure and classic quest themes. Throughout their journeys, they discover amazing new lands, strange and captivating people and beasts, and even, sometimes, a deeper understanding of themselves. Perhaps because of their excitement and clear progression towards a greater good, stories of a hero's quest remain as compelling and classic today as they were in ancient times.
 
Critical Insights:
THE FANTASTIC


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

Tales of magic, the supernatural, and the uncanny have been around as long as people have been telling stories. From Odyssey's adventures to the extraordinary history of the Buendía family of One Hundred Years of Solitude, stories of the fantastic have thrilled, mystified, and terrorized readers for centuries.
 
Critical Insights:
TECHNOLOGY & HUMANITY


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

Technology can be as basic and essential as fire, or a common kitchen tool, or can become, at least in our imaginations, so sophisticated and pervasive as to take on the feel of a nightmare. Literature - in its printed and now digital forms, itself a shining example of the success of technology in reaching around the world - reflects the draw, and the dangers, of technology for us in myriad ways.
 
Critical Insights:
NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

As far back as the ancient Greece, nature has inspired countless poets, novelists, and playwrights with its beauty and power. From the early pastoralism of the Greeks, to the brute realism of the naturalists, to the environmental concerns of contemporary writers, it has proved to be a perennial theme that can be viewed in a multitude of ways.
 

Critical Insights:
DYSTOPIA


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

To be dystopian, a work needs to foreground the oppressive society in which it is set, using that setting as an opportunity to comment in a critical way on some other society, typically that of the author and/or the audience. In other worlds, the bleak dystopian world should encourage the reader or viewer to think critically about it, then to transfer this critical thinking to his or her own world.

 
Critical Insights:
CULTURAL ENCOUNTERS


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

As cultures around the world have come into contact with and grown alongside one another, they have had to engage in complex personal, economic, and social relationships—all of which have found their way into numerous literary works. Often fraught, these relationships have had a lasting impact on the modern world and modern literature.
 
Critical Insights:
COMING OF AGE


One volume, 360 pages
List Price: $105

Coming of age has been one of the great themes of literature for over two thousand years. From the maturation of Telemachus in The Odyssey to the stunted adolescence of Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye, it has spanned eras, countries, and cultures. It is the theme of every young person's life, and adolescence a time many adults look ba