A Companion to British Literature
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A Companion to British Literature is a comprehensive guide to British literature and the contexts and ideas that have shaped and transformed it over the past thirteen centuries. Its four volumes cover literature from all periods and places in Britain and demonstrate the wide variety of approaches to studying the subject.

  • Provides an authoritative reference on British literature, and the contexts, writers, and ideas that have shaped and transformed it over the past thirteen centuries
  • Spans historical, social, political, domestic, linguistic, institutional, and material contexts
  • Offers the most inclusive and far-reaching overview available of British literature from 700-2,000,across four volumes and over 100 chapters
  • Written by an internationally diverse range of expert contributors including both distinguished academics and up-and-coming young stars
  • Comprises readings from across geographical, cultural, institutional, economic and mediological contexts
  • Features a general index and a thematic table of contents to enable readers to navigate the development of British Literature

4 Volumes



Robert DeMaria, Jr. is the Henry Noble MacCracken Professor of English Literature at Vassar College, USA. He is the General Editor of the Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, the editor of the Johnsonian News Letter, and the author of Johnson's Dictionary and the Language of Learning (1986), The Life of Samuel Johnson (Blackwell, 1993), and Samuel Johnson and the Life of Reading (1997). He is also the editor of Classical Literature and Its Reception (with Robert Brown, Blackwell, 2007) and British Literature 1640-1789: An Anthology (Blackwell, 1996; 3rd edn, 2008).

Heesok Chang is Associate Professor of English at Vassar College, USA. He is the author of the forthcoming Wiley Blackwell title Handbook to British Modernism, and is currently working on a book on literary modernism and media technologies. In addition, he is the author of articles on critical theory and literary modernism.

Samantha Zacher is an Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Cornell University, USA,  where she teaches Old and Middle English Literature. She is the author of Preaching the Converted: The Style and Rhetoric of the Vercelli Book Homilies (2009) and co-editor, with Andy Orchard, of New Readings in the Vercelli Book (2009). Her new monograph, Rewriting the Old Testament in Anglo-Saxon Verse: Becoming the Chosen People is forthcoming (2013). She is also editing a new collection of essays entitled Imagining the Jew: Jewishness in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture (forthcoming, 2013).


Volume I: Medieval Literature 700 - 1450

Full Table of Contents ix

Editors xix

Notes on Contributors to Volume I xx

General Introduction xxiv
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Introduction to Medieval Literature xxxi
Samantha Zacher

Chronology 43 - 1476 xlvii

1 The Oral and the Written: Aspects of Oral Composition, Performance, and Reception 1
Karl Reichl

2 Old English Literature and the Negotiations of Tradition 16
Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe

3 Lyric Form, Subjectivity, and Consciousness 30
Emily V. Thornbury

4 Sermons and Saints: From the Late Tenth to the Eleventh Centuries 48
Paul E. Szarmach

5 The Lost and (Not) Found: Sources for Female Saints' Legends in John of Tynemouth's Sanctilogium 65
Virginia Blanton

6 Racial Imagination and the Theater of War: Captivity and Execution in Richard, Coer de Lion 81
Suzanne M. Yeager

7 The Norman Conquest and English Literary Culture After 1066 97
Neil Cartlidge

8 Writing the Self: Regulating Sex, Body, and Soul 114
Liz Herbert McAvoy

9 Courtly Love and Its Impossible Implementation: The Narrative Pragmatics of an Ideal 130
Christine Chism

10 Writing Revolution 146
Marion Turner

11 The Romance Genre 161
Corinne Saunders

12 Interior Visions: Piers Plowman and the Dream Vision Genre 180
Michael Calabrese

13 British Chaucer 202
John M. Ganim

14 Writing Heresy, Apostasy, and Anticlericalism in Medieval England 215
Andrew Galloway

15 Ecstasy, Intimacy, and Middle English Contemplative Culture 232
Denise L. Despres

16 Sources, Analogues, Creativity 243
Tim William Machan

17 Performing Communities: The Variety of Dramatic Practices in Medieval England 256
Christina M. Fitzgerald

18 Old English and Anglo-Latin: The Odd Couple 273
Andy Orchard

19 Before the Makars: Older Scots Literature Under the Early Stewart Kings 293
Rhiannon Purdie

20 Originating Britain: Welsh Literature and the Arthurian Tradition 308
Helen Fulton

21 Writing from the "Other Shore" and the Beginnings of Vernacular Literature in Ireland 323
Joseph Falaky Nagy

22 The Circulation and Compilation of Devotional Books: Assessing the Material Evidence of Women's Reading 337
Jacqueline Jenkins

23 Collectors and Collections: Libraries and Their Social and Private Functions 355
David N. Bell

24 In Praise of Power: Prince and Poet in Fifteenth-Century Court Poetry 369
Robert J. Meyer-Lee

25 Word and Image 384
Elaine Treharne

26 New Technologies: From Manuscript to Print 403
Sian Echard

Selected References and Further Reading 418

Index to Volume I 435

Volume II: Early Modern Literature 1450 - 1660

Full Table of Contents ix

Editors xix

Notes on Contributors to Volume II xx

General Introduction xxv
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Introduction to Early Modern Literature xxxii
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Chronology 1450 - 1662 xxxix

1 The Spectral Past: Medieval Literature in the Early Modern Period 1
David Matthews

2 The Fortunes of Arthur: Malory to Milton 16
Willy Maley and Adam Swann

3 Robert Burton and the Discontents of Print 29
David J. Baker

4 Anglo-European Literary Relations in the Sixteenth Century 40
Alessandra Petrina

5 Mapping the British Archipelago in the Renaissance 54
Stewart Mottram

6 Renaissance or Reformation? 70
Michael Payne

7 Religious Reading and Writing in an Age of Bloodshed 82
Achsah Guibbory

8 Translations of Virgil from Gavin Douglas to Sir John Denham 98
Robin Sowerby

9 England, the "Orient," and the Ocean 116
Benedict Robinson

10 Politics and Religion in Elizabethan Drama 129
Lisa Hopkins

11 Women's Literary and Intellectual Endeavors: A Case for the Anonymous Riposte 142
Marcy L. North

12 Shakespeare and the Arts of Persuasion 164
Michael Macdonald

13 Texts and Performances in the Age of Elizabeth 181
Tom Rutter

14 Physics, Metaphysics, and Religion in Lyric Poetry 197
Wendy Beth Hyman

15 The Early English Essay 213
Joshua Scodel

16 Francis Bacon and Aristotelian Afterlives 231
Christopher Crosbie

17 Scots Literature in the Age of the Makars and Beyond 249
Katherine H. Terrell

18 Violence in Jacobean Drama 264
Zoltan Markus

19 First Folios: Jonson and Shakespeare 280
Adam G. Hooks

20 Riding Westward: Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, and the Literature of Empire 295
Jonathan Locke Hart

21 Cheap Print and Popular Reading During the Civil Wars, 1637 - 1660 309
Joad Raymond

22 Republican Writing from Milton to Locke 326
Nigel Smith

23 John Bunyan and the Spaces of Religious Writing 342
Cynthia Wall

24 Paradise Lost: Contexts and Poetic Creation 359
Barbara K. Lewalski

25 Human, Animal, and Machine in the Seventeenth Century 375
Lucinda Cole and Robert Markley

Selected References and Further Reading 391

Index to Volume II 402

Volume III: Long Eighteenth-Century Literature 1660 - 1837

Full Table of Contents ix

Editors xix

Notes on Contributors to Volume III xx

General Introduction xxiv
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Introduction to Long Eighteenth-Century Literature xxxi
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Chronology 1658 - 1835 xxxviii

1 Understanding Genre: Epic, Mock Epic, and Some Versions of Heroism from Milton to Pope 1
David Venturo

2 History and Literature from Milton to Wollstonecraft 19
Ruth Mack

3 Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century 35
Neil Rhodes

4 Aphra Behn and the Profession of Writing in the Restoration and Early Eighteenth Century 49
Catherine Ingrassia

5 The Virgilian Way from Milton to Wordsworth 62
Adam Potkay

6 Women Readers and the Rise of the Periodical Essay 78
Manushag N. Powell

7 Female Satirists of the Eighteenth Century 95
Paul Baines

8 Ireland, England, and Anglo-Irish Writers in England 113
David Oakleaf

9 Alexander Pope: Religion, Politics, and Poetry 127
Pat Rogers

10 Eighteenth-Century Science and the Literary Imagination 143
Tita Chico

11 Epistolary Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century 159
Thomas Keymer

12 Poetry Anthologies, Taste, and the Canon 174
Adam Rounce

13 Performance in Eighteenth-Century English Verse: Oral Expressiveness 189
John Richetti

14 Ranging Knowledge by the Alphabet: The Literature of Categorization and Organization 1700 - 1830 207
Lynda Mugglestone

15 History, Biography, and Anecdote 223
Freya Johnston

16 The Other in the British Eighteenth Century 240
Lynn Festa

17 Aesthetics and Taste: The Beautiful, the Sublime, and Beyond in the Eighteenth Century 258
G. Gabrielle Starr

18 The Poetry of Melancholy from Finch to Keats 277
John Sitter

19 Jane Austen and the Conditions of Knowledge 298
Jenny Davidson

20 Genius and Originality 1750 - 1830: Young, Wordsworth, and Shelley 312
Christopher R. Miller

21 Blake and His Contemporaries 329
Laura Quinney

22 Romantic Celebrities: Poets in an Age of Print 345
Richard Cronin

23 Gothic and Celtic Revivals: Antiquity and the Archipelago 361
Nick Groom

24 Romantic Women Writers in the Lecture Room 380
Sarah M. Zimmerman

Selected References and Further Reading 396

Index to Volume III 408

Volume IV: Victorian and Twentieth-Century Literature 1837 - 2000

Full Table of Contents ix

Editors xix

Notes on Contributors to Volume IV xx

General Introduction xxiv
Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Introduction to Victorian and Twentieth-Century Literature xxxi
Heesok Chang

Chronology 1800 - 2006 xxxvii

1 Charles Dickens, Dramatist 1
Eileen Gillooly

2 Becoming George Eliot: Female Authorship in the Nineteenth Century 14
Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi

3 "What Do the Women Do?": The Work of Women in the Fiction of the Brontës 33
Susan Zlotnick

4 Evolution and Entropy: Scientific Contexts in the Nineteenth Century 52
Suzy Anger

5 Theater, Exhibition, and Spectacle in the Nineteenth Century 68
Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

6 Art, Self, and Society: Tennyson and the Brownings, 1830 - 1857 89
Matthew Campbell

7 Pre-Raphaelite Brothers, Lovers, and the Sister Arts 107
Wendy Graham

8 Regionalism and Consciousness: Thomas Hardy's Imagined Geographies 129
Keith Wilson

9 Modernism and Empire 144
Laura Winkiel

10 The Irish Literary Revival 160
James L. Pethica

11 Re-Envisioning Yeats's A Vision: Modernist Spirality and the Distribution of the Sensible 175
Nico Israel

12 First World War Poetry 195
Adam Piette

13 "How to Enjoy James Joyce's Great Novel": Making and Marketing in Ulysses 210
Stephen Dilks

14 Anglophobia and Anglophilia: Hugh MacDiarmid and T. S. Eliot 231
Robert Crawford

15 Virginia Woolf and Experimental Fiction 246
Anne E. Fernald

16 Sartorial Modernity: Fashion, Gender, and Sexuality in Modernism 260
Jane Garrity

17 Doom in the Bud: Beckett's Drama and After 280
Paul Lawley

18 Form, Figure, and Ground: Auden and England After Modernism 296
C. D. Blanton

19 Historical Turns in Twentieth-Century Fiction 314
John T. Connor

20 Anthologizing Poetry: The Movement and After 333
Nigel Alderman

21 "Frail, and So Full of Fire": The Angry Young Man and Changing Masculinities 350
Praseeda Gopinath

22 Imagining Female Authorship After 1945: Lessing's and Spark's Portraits of the Artist Manqué 367
Maria Francesca Fackler

23 Sticks and Stones: Three Nearly Unnamable Figures and a Review of Postcolonialism 385
Elaine K. Chang

24 The Modern Scottish Novel 404
Cairns Craig

25 Queer Fiction in Contemporary Britain 424
Jodie Medd

26 Global Markets: Contemporary British Fiction and the Book Trade 440
Richard Todd

27 The British Dystopian Novel from Wells to Ishiguro 454
Phillip E. Wegner

Selected References and Further Reading 471

Index to Volume IV 484

Consolidated Index 511


"A Companion to British Literature is a fascinating four-volume set. Most of the essays are engaging and informative, and the comprehensive index as well as the chronology makes the volumes easy to browse." (Reference Reviews, May 2016)