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Writing by Erin O'Connor [feather]

My book, Raw Material: Producing Pathology in Victorian Culture, was published by Duke University Press in 2000. It deals with how Victorian writers talked about threatening pathological phenomena such as cholera, phantom limb pain, breast cancer, and deformity, and argues that in the metaphoric language that surrounds these conditions we can watch a culture working through its collective hopes and fears about the future. It received a nice review in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Stories, for Kids of All Ages
Suddenly in the fall of 2001 I started writing stories and my mother, a retired physician with a latent artistic streak, began illustrating them. We started with "Sam's Story," a Christmas gift for my baby nephew Sam that centers on the putative boredom of the S in his first name. We had so much fun that we couldn't stop. Next came two fairy tales for adults, "The Enchanted Blackboard" and "Litigiously Ever After." The first deals with the social weaponry of small communities--gossip, threat, ostracism, and so on. The second is a tongue-in-cheek meditation on what happens to happy endings in a litigious society. Our most recent effort, "The Stiff Cricket," was our gift to Sam on his first birthday.

Essays, Scholarly and Not
The essays collected here were written over the past couple of years and reflect a variety of moods and mindsets. "Reading The Biographer's Tale" treats A.S. Byatt's novel as a critical commentary on the undeservedly low academic status of biography. "Work in Progress" was originally delivered as a talk at the University of Pennsylvania. It traces the history of the phrase "work in progress" by way of fun detours through James Joyce's writing and Walt Disney's philosophy. "Epitaph for the Body Politic" pronounces that dubious corner of cultural studies, body criticism, dead. "How to Think About a Hungry Deer" reflects on my parents' recent retirement to the Oregon mountains.

On Scholarly Love is an ongoing project that discusses contemporary criticism's uses and abuses of Victorian fiction. If you are curious, read the Introduction. The Love Song of Plastic Surgery focuses on the strange entanglement of early plastic surgery, modernist aesthetics, and the creation of a distinctly American face.

Many Reviews