Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Gregory Castle's research interests are primarily in Irish studies (especially the works of Joyce, Yeats, Wilde and Stoker), the history and theory of the novel and literary and cultural theory (especially critical theory from Adorno to Zizek and posthumanist studies.
Castle's first book, Modernism and the Celtic Revival (Cambridge University Press, 2001), was the “runner-up” for the Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Literature, sponsored by the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) in 2002. In this book, he explores the textual means by which anthropology and ethnography contributed to the formation of Irish culture. The “ethnographic imagination” of Revivalists like W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge and Joyce contributed a great deal to the creation of the Irish “subject”; it had a profound impact on both the ideology of the Free State (1922) and on literary Modernism.
Castle’s Reading the Modernist Bildungsroman (University Press of Florida, 2006) was the first full-length study of British and Irish Modernist Bildungsromane and features analyses of works by Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. Drawing on Theodor W. Adorno’s theory of “negative dialectics,” Castle argues that the Modernist Bildungsroman witnesses the failure of its own narrative telos (the dialectical harmony of social responsibility and personal desire) – a failure that does not prevent the Modernist hero from perfecting (or trying to perfect) what Johann von Goethe and Wilhelm von Humboldt called “inner culture” (Bildung).
Castle’s current research project, Modernism and the Temporalities of Irish Revival, seeks to revamp our notions of Irish Revivalism and its relation to modernism. Of special importance in this investigation is the way the past (in its various forms, e.g., memory, memorialization, history) is redefined as the seedbed of futurity through a logic of misrecognition that functions both as a poetic and rhetorical mode of inscription but also as a mode of reading. This perspective requires us to regard the past as always, in some sense, in error, and this quality of being in error solicits the rectifying or "corrective" gaze that frees the future from the past. Looking at Irish Revival in these terms allows us to think about Irish modernism in a new way and to include in its ambit the kinds of writing that are not usually associated with it – indeed, that are frequently adduced as antithetical to modernism. Thus the “imaginative historiography” of Standish O’Grady, the fiction of Emily Lawless, the critical prose and poetry of Padraig Pearse, Stoker’s Dracula and Wilde’s early lectures on aesthetics – all of these works can be understood as instances of a modernist Revival alongside the work of Yeats, Synge and other figures associated with the Literary Revival. The Literary Revival is only one facet of a more general cultural and social attitude that has been in some important ways misunderstood (not the least by revivalists themselves) and that this misunderstanding is a necessary part of the process by which we come to a sense of Revival’s fundamentally modernist character.
In 2011, Castle (ed.) published vol.1 of the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory: 1900-1966, the first of a three-volume set under the general editorship of Michael Ryan. He has also published an anthology of postcolonial theory, Postcolonial Discourses: A Reader (Blackwell, 2001), organized by region (India, Australia/New Zealand, Africa, Caribbean, Ireland) and prefaced by general essays by leading figures like Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said and others.
A second edition of Castle’s Guide to Literary Theory (Blackwell 2007) was published in March 2013 under the new title The Literary Theory Handbook (Wiley-Blackwell). This new edition of a highly successful text has been updated and expanded and includes new chapters on neo-Aristotelian theory, the theory of the novel, post-Marxism, phenomenology and hermeneutics, trauma studies, ethnic and indigenous studies, transnationalism, posthumanism, evolutionary literary theory, object-oriented ontologies, disability studies and ecocriticism. The first edition included a history of theory, and this has been expanded and updated in the new book. The chapter on Key Figures has been augmented with 10 new biographies and the glossary updated and refined. As with the first edition, the new one includes sample readings to illustrate the practical application of theory.
Castle teaches a wide variety of courses in British and Irish literature, modernism, postcolonial studies; literary and critical theory. Undergraduate courses include a literature survey (1798 to the Present), a 200-level Introduction to Literary Theory and a wide variety of courses focusing on twentieth-century Irish and British literature, including courses in the modernist novel, nationalism in Irish literature and film; the sense of the past in modernist poetry, the postcolonial novel, Modernist and the Postmodernist literature; theory and literature
He also regularly teaches graduate courses in literary theory as well as 500-level courses on British and Irish modernism. He offers graduate seminars on a variety of authors, including Joyce, Yeats, and Samuel Beckett. Recent seminars have focused on modernist poetry, modernist aesthetics, Irish modernism, Joyce and psychoanalysis, colonial and postcolonial Bildungsromane, Irish literature and decolonization, anthropology and literature, Yeats and the Irish Revival, and the Irish Gothic.