Writing by Erin O'Connor
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
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.
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.