Graduate Program in Creative Writing

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Master of Fine Arts Faculty

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G. Douglas Atkins


3109 Wescoe Hall

Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1969


Areas of Research

T.S. Eliot, literature and religion, the essay, the practice of literary criticism

Selected Books

Eliot’s Journey towards Understanding: Arriving at “Four Quartets” (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

T. S. Eliot and the Essay: From “The Sacred Wood” to “Four Quartets” (Baylor Univ. Press, 2010; nominated for MLA Awards; cited by Faith and Theology as one of  year’s two best books of literary criticism)

Literary Paths to Religious Understanding: Essays on Dryden, Keats, George Eliot, Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and E.B. White (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

On the Familiar Essay: Challenging Academic Orthodoxies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Reading Essays: An Invitation (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2008)

Tracing the Essay: Through Experience to Truth (Athens and London: Univ. of Georgia Press, 2005 (nominated for the Susanne K. Langer Prize and the Christian Gauss Phi Beta Kappa Prize)

Estranging the Familiar: Toward a Revitalized Critical Writing (Athens and London: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1992, nominated for the Harry Levin Prize and the Mina Shaughnessy Prize; selected by Choice as “An Outstanding Academic Book” for 1993-94)

Geoffrey Hartman: Criticism as Answerable Style (London and New York: Routledge, 1990)

Contemporary Critical Theory, co-edited with Laura Morrow (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1988; London: Macmillan, 1989; and Taipei: Bookman, 1989)

Shakespeare and Deconstruction, co-edited with David M. Bergeron (New York: Peter Lang, 1988)

Writing and Reading Differently: Deconstruction and the Teaching of Composition and Literature, co-edited with Michael L. Johnson (Lawrence: Univ. Press of Kansas, 1985; second paperback printing, 1986)

Quests of Difference: Reading Pope’s Poems (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1986)

Reading Deconstruction/Deconstructive Reading (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1983; reissued in paperback, 1985)—selected by Choice as “An Outstanding Academic Book for 1984-85”

The Faith of John Dryden: Change and Continuity (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1980)

Selected Articles and Essays

“Art and Anger: Upon Taking Up the Pen Again—On Self(e)-Expresion,” JAC, 20 (2000); 414-25

“Envisioning the Stranger’s Heart,” College English, 56 (1994): 629-41

“In Other Words: Gardening for Love—The Work of the Essayist,” Kenyon Review, ns 13 (1991): 56-69 (reprinted in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, ed. Marie Lazzari. Gale Literary Criticism Series 48. New York: Gale, 1995: 167-73)

“A(fter) D(econstruction): The Relations of Literature and Religion in the Wake of Deconstruction,” Studies in the Literary Imagination, 18 (1985), 89-100

“Partial Stories: Hebraic and Christian Thinking in the Wake of Deconstruction,” Notre Dame English Journal, 15 (1983), 7-21

“Pope and Difference” (a Forum response), PMLA, 98 (1983), 407-08

“J. Hillis Miller, Deconstruction, and the Recovery of Transcendence,” Notre Dame English Journal, 13 (1980), 51-63

“Dehellenizing Literary Criticism,” College English, 41 (1980), 769-79

“Pope and Deism: A New Analysis,” in Pope: Recent Essays (The Essential Articles Series), ed. Maynard Mack and James A. Winn (Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1980), pp. 392-415, 823-28 (rpt. from Huntington Library Quarterly, 35 [1972], 257-78)

“Strategy and Purpose in Pope’s Sober Advice from Horace,” Papers on Language & Literature, 15 (1979), 159-74

“Dryden’s Religio Laici: A Reappraisal,” Studies in Philology, 75 (1978), 347-70

“The Ancients, the Moderns, and Gnosticism,” Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 151-55 (1976), 149-66

The Eve of St. Agnes Reconsidered,” Tennessee Studies in Literature, 18 (1973), 113-32


Kemper, Grier, and Burlington Northern awards for excellence in teaching; Kenyon Review Prize for excellence in nonfiction prose; ACLS grant-in-aid; School of Criticism and Theory fellowship; Clark Library postdoctoral fellowship; NEH grant for workshops on “alternative”careers; Danforth and Woodrow Wilson fellowships; Phi Beta Kappa

Faculty Profile

Over the years, I have “specialized” in Restoration and early 18th-century British poetry and nonfiction prose; later, criticism and theory; then, the essay; and most recently, T.S. Eliot. I have not, however, “transcended” any of these areas, and consider myself (still) a scholar, critic, essayist, teacher, and adviser/counselor. My strength lies in the close reading of texts, in print and the classroom alike. I have just finished a book on E.B.White, essayist and author of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, the first sustained scholarly treatment of this great writer. My next project will likely be a comprehensive book, tentatively titled The Responsibilities of the Critic. I continue to teach a Freshman-Sophomore Honors course called Ancients, Moderns, and Modernists, I regularly offer an advanced course in essay-writing, and I am scheduled for a graduate seminar in T.S. Eliot (Fall 2011).


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