Academic Novels as Satire

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This book explores the ways in which academia serves as a repository for contemporary cultural issues, problems, and performances by way of interpretations of academic fiction that observe this phenomenon. Composed by practicing academics who also appreciate satire aimed at their profession, the authors offer this collection as a correction to increasingly cynical portrayals of academic life. Instead the authors provide interpretations that identify satire as a timely and effective genre for critically commenting on the state of academia because it reveals ethical dimensions that engage an ironic voice to negotiate issues of culture and identity. Included among the essays are the results of responses gathered from practicing authors in the genre of academic satire who provide commentary and insights exclusive to this collection.


“What is a little surprising, given the vitality of the genre [of satire] and the academic involvement of its authors, is the thinness of criticism of the genre from the academy. One reason for the paucity of criticism is the relative newness of the genre, and another may be the fact the authors consider themselves primarily writers rather than literary critics. This excellent collection of essays on academic fiction comes, then, at a propitious time not only for its elucidation of the genre and some of most interesting academic novels of recent years but also for its initiating a discussion that opens the field up for further development and study.” – Dr. Albert Gelpi, Professor of English, Emeritus, Stanford University

“I find this to be a useful and interesting book . . . It has genuine strengths in addressing, for both audiences of English departments and for larger academic (and non-academic) audiences, some critical issues regarding the representation of the university in contemporary American culture . . . A series of articles on the nature of contemporary academic fictions, especially satires, can enlighten not merely the study of contemporary social satire but also the broader issues of cultural debate that are exploited in academic fictions.” – Dr. Vincent Casaregola, Associate Professor of English, Saint Louis University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Albert Gelpi
Introduction: Stumbling through the Groves – Kimberly Rae Connor, University of San Francisco
1 Our Hitler? The Academic Novel, Revisionist History, and the American Campus –Cecile Cazort Zorach, Franklin and Marshall College
2 Towers of Ivory, Corridors of Linoleum: Utopia in Academic Novels – Peter Sands, University of Wisconsin
3 From Campus Fiction to Metacritical Fiction: A.S. Byatt’s Academic Novels – Doryjane Birrer, College of Charleston
4 Tracing the Phallic Imagination: Male Desire and Female Aggression in Philip Roth’s Academic Novels – Mark K. Fulk, Buffalo State University
5 The Academic Novel with a Difference: David Lodge’s Nice Work – Earl G. Ingersoll, SUNY Brockport
6 “Teaching English Isn’t the Clean Work it Used to Be”: Satirizing the Plight of Token Professionals in Richard Russo’s Straight Man – Brooks Bouson, Loyola University
7 John L’Heureux’s The Handmaid of Desire: Desiring the Good Academic Imagination – Mark Bosco, S.J., Loyola University

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