HOME

Books by James A.W. Heffernan

Wordsworth’s Theory of Poetry: The Transforming Imagination.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969.

“It is the richest discussion of central concerns in Wordsworth since R.D. Havens’ The Mind of a Poet, published twenty-eight years ago, and it takes its place beside Geoffrey Hartman’s Wordsworth’s Poetry . . . as one of the two most significant books on Wordsworth of the 1960’s.”

--Jack Stillinger, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 69 (1970): 328

The Re-Creation of Landscape: A Study of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Constable, and Turner. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1985.

“Rather than make ritual genuflections before what have become the archetypal signs of Romanticism (its displacement of history, its naturalism, its introspective subjectivity, etc.) the author responds to them with new and provocative insights. . . . [A] dazzling comparative analysis of the thematic correspondences between Romantic poetry and painting.”

--Ann Bermingham, Huntington Library Quarterly 50 (1987): 410.

“Quite simply, a splendid achievement.”

--William Walling, The Wordsworth Circle 17 (1986): 197

[Editor]. Space, Time, Image, Sign: Essays on Literature and the Visual Arts. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1987.

[Editor]. Representing the French Revolution: Literature, Historiography and Art. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1992.

“Deals very specifically with the interest in representation, language, and rhetoric that are now at the center of some of the most interesting work being done on the French Revolution. On the English responses it is, in my view, the best set of essays on the subject that we have.”

--Simon Schama, Columbia University

“For those . . . interested in a comparative approach to cultural phenomena, this volume can be of immense use and fascination. It joins other efforts such as . . . Lynn Hunt’s The Family Romance of the French Revolution . . . and Mona Ozouf’s Festivals and the French Revolution . . . in demonstrating the extent to which the French Revolution was a revolution in culture and a search for new meaning.

--Thomas O. Beebe, Clio 23 (1993): 195

“L’originalité de ce volume d’essais reside dans la varieté des regards que les quatorze contributeurs posent sur l’image--où les images--de la Revolution française. . . . La travail coordonné par James A. W. Heffernan donne un bel example des reussités que l’on peut attendre, y compris, naturellement, hors du cas particulieur de la Revolution française, d’une telle collaboration intellectuelle.”

--Patrick Berthier, Revue d’Histoire Litteraire de la France
96 (1996): 149.

Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Reprinted in Paperback, 2004.

“Clear and purposeful, [it] raises many issues central to the entire history of Western poetry. . . . [and] offers an excellent introduction to the best writing in the genre [of ekphrastic poetry].”

--Mark Ford, Times Literary Supplement [London] December 30, 1994

Provokes “great respect and admiration for [the author’s] lucidity and conceptual skill in helping us to see ekphrasis as no obscure rhetorical figure but as a vital literary tradition central to literature’s engagement with the visual arts.”

--Ann Hurley, European Romantic Review 5 (1995): 280.

“The second [part] brilliantly traces the Philomela story through a number of texts. . . . [The book as a whole] is a clear and cohesive combination of interpretation and genre theory that will serve not only scholars but poets as well, who may learn what is at stake when they cross the museum’s portals looking for the genesis of a poem.”

--David E. Latané, Jr. South Atlantic Review (Winter 1995)

“The nuanced and persuasive readings . . . raise important critical questions that surround ekphrastic writings. Several of these readings --notably those of the poems by Wordsworth, Keats, and Ashbery--are indeed masterly. Professor Heffernan’s book thus accomplishes its two programmatic goals. . . . It also dramatically presents a sustained reflection on the interpretive predicament of criticism in our time.”

--Richard Macksey, Modern Language Notes 110 (1995): 1015

“This is a challenging and thought-provoking book, offering analyses of great complexity and working with extremely difficult materials. Its resolute yet almost always elegant adherence to the particularity of its paragone, their ‘representational friction,’ leads to a richness of textual interpretation that will surely generate further debate and further interpretations.”

--Nancy Goslee, Studies in Romanticism 34 (1995): 652

[Co-author]. Writing: A College Handbook. Fifth edition. New York: Norton, 2001.

“A joy--sensible, sensitive to students’ needs--sensational! I really love it.”

--Barton Friedberg, Nassau Community College

“The emphasis on the reasons behind the rules is what makes Writing: A College Handbook distinctive. . . . [It] is the thinking person’s guide to writing.”-- Judith Ferster, North Carolina State University

[Co-author]. Writing: A Concise Handbook. New York: Norton, 1996.

Cultivating Picturacy: Visual Art and Verbal Interventions. Waco, TX: Baylor University
Press, 2006 (http://www.baylorpress.com/Book/25/110/Cultivating_Picturacy.html)

Picturacy offers both a method and a model for reading the visual image. Heffernan brings the keenest tools of literary interpretation to bear on the realm of painting in its historical context, showing how the world of words that surround and infuse the image, as well as the close relation between the two that has always characterized the theory and practice of art, call for a mode of ‘pictorial literacy’ brilliantly exemplified in his own critical practice. In doing so, it rewrites the history of art in its necessary and productive engagement with language. Picturacy will stand alongside the works of Norman Bryson, Nelson Goodman, and W.J.T. Mitchell as fundamental contribution to the field of interart scholarship.”

--Ernest Gilman, New York University

“It would appear that next to no rewriting has been necessary to seam together this baker’s dozen of occasional papers, from their previous appearance in print, into a new chronological and theoretical continuity. Such is the coherent interdisciplinary career for which they are a capstone. For two decades, James Heffernan has covered the intermedial field precisely by letting his favored topics flow smoothly into associated questions generated from them, one issue dovetailing transparently into another due to the engrossing, subtle clarity of the critic’s prose. Having wondered at the start about “why we have no word to denote the visual counterpart of literacy, no word that designates the capacity to interpret pictures” (1)–the ability or “capacity,” that is, but also the grain of attention involved–literary scholar Heffernan not only gives us such a term but offers an extended case in point for its flexible understanding, telling application, and real aesthetic yield. Entitled by neologism, the book brings news in every chapter.”

--Garrett Stewart, European Romantic Review
(December 2008), p. 536

“James Heffernan’s Cultivating Picturacy is a treasure for scholars and students interested in the history, theory, and practice of text-image relations. The volume, beautifully produced and illustrated by Baylor University Press, contains a
breadth of reference, richness of analysis, and limpid prose that are truly marvelous. It consists of fourteen essays (including the introduction), almost all published in the period 1988-2000, which, taken together, crown a distinguished career in what used to be rather quaintly called “sister arts” criticism, but which is now, in the age of metastasizing visual-verbal media, among the most urgent topics of cultural history and aesthetics.”

--Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Number 52 (November 2008)
http://www.erudit.org/revue/ravon/2008/v/n52/019807ar.html

Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature. Yale University Press, 2014.

“It is a superb manuscript in every way: learned, original, written with elegance and ease, highly readable, and on an important topic. . . . The only book I can think of that is at all like it in scope and importance is Eric Auerbach’s classic study, Mimesis. Like Mimesis, Heffernan’s Hospitality and Treachery takes examples from the whole range of Western literature from Homer and the Bible down to twentieth-century modernism to explore a single topic and to make authoritative and original readings of the examples from the perspective of that topic.”

--J. Hillis Miller, Reader’s Report for Yale University Press

"This wide-ranging and intellectually vibrant study of hospitality in western literature is stunning. James A. W. Heffernan is, as his previous work demonstrates, a critic who allows nothing to stand in the way of understanding. He crosses boundaries of culture and language cheerfully, bravely, and with vast sympathies for the subject at hand. Here, his lifelong passion for the study of literature and ideas culminates in surprising ways. As he amply demonstrates, the conflict between hospitality and treachery is, after all, what makes for plot itself. What he uncovers here is nothing less than the story of our lives."

--Jay Parini, novelist, poet, critic, biographer

“Writing with the candor and generosity of a true host, James Heffernan delivers
a literary feast drawn from three millennia of Western literature. Entertaining as
well as enlightening, this book offers the virtues of hospitality while reminding us
of its risks.”

-- Julia Reinhard Lupton, author of Thinking with Shakespeare:
Essays on Politics and Life

Heffernan's book is unique . . . not only for its specific focus on the under-studied relationship between representations of hospitality and treachery, but also because it is, to my knowledge, the only full-scale study of hospitality themes and figures across Western literary traditions--from Homer, Virgil, and the book of Genesis to Joyce, Woolf, and Camus. . . . Heffernan's text offers a remarkably worthwhile and convincing account of what literary history teaches us about "the delicate process of receiving a guest or crossing another's threshold" (11). The real treasures of Heffernan's book lie in the extraordinary series of readings and close analyses each of its chapters has to offer.

--Peter Melville, Review 19 (May 19, 2014) (http://www.nbol-19.org/view_doc.php?index=346)

Heffernan is an excellent and intuitive critic, and Hospitality and Treachery is an engaging and often absorbing study. I hope that this book will spark a wide-scale rediscovery of hospitality as an object of critical inquiry. If what we have here is a new sub-field in literary and cultural studies more broadly, we will all have James Heffernan to thank. If not, then this book will act as a shade at the feast: a haunting, insistent reminder of an immense area of study that cannot, and should not, be ignored.

--James Alexander Fraser, Modernism/modernity, 21: 4  (November 2014):  1046