Faculty Towers (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
This slim book is partly an intellectual memoir, the author’s reflections on her own past, on the people she has known, discussions she has had, thoughts she has shared about life and literature. Elaine Showalter began her academic career not as a professor but as a faculty wife. This gave her insights into university life that a more conventional career would not have provided. It also contributed to her interests in feminism and in literature illustrating the mores of the academic elite. Twice at least, characters in academic novels have been based on Showalterone a vamp, one a frump. (She prefers to think of herself as the former.)
Half of the work’s subtitle, The Academic Novel and Its Discontents, is slightly misleadingFaculty Towers is not about “the” academic novel but about the ways in which academic novels depict English departmentsShowalter’s specialty. The discontents accurately reflect a half-century of uncomfortable challenges and change. Hers is not the popularly conceived image of a department that examines literature and writing, but insiders will recognize it instantly. Still, Showalter deals gently with her one-time colleagues, much more so than did the novelists.
Academic fiction begins with George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1872), partly because Eliot is widely considered the first woman to attempt to make a living in the literary profession, partly because a major subplot concerns a young...
(The entire section is 1834 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The Boston Globe, March 27, 2005, p. K2.
New Statesman 134, no. 4759 (September 26, 2005): 85.
The Spectator 299, no. 9223 (September 10, 2005): 50.
The Times Literary Supplement, September 16, 2005, p. 24.
The Virginia Quarterly Review 81, no. 4 (Fall, 2005): 291-291.
Weekly Standard 10, no. 32 (May 9, 2005): 35-39.
(The entire section is 32 words.)