Literary Criticism online

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

A selective list of online literary criticism and analysis for the mid-20th-century American poet and translator Elizabeth Bishop, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources


main page | 20th-century literature | 20th-century poetry | formalist poets | 20th-century women writers


introduction & biography

"Elizabeth Bishop." Includes short biography and excerpts from important critical discussions for some of Bishop's best known poems: The Fish, The Man-Moth, At the Fishhouses, Questions of Travel, Filling Station, The Armadillo, In the Waiting Room, Pink Dog, Crusoe in England, One Art. Modern American Poetry (Univ. of Illinois). Eds. Robert Dale Parker, Edward Brunner, and Cary Nelson.

Hammer, Langdon. "Lecture 24 - Elizabeth Bishop." First of two lectures on Elizabeth Bishop, from Prof. Hammer's class at Yale. In the first lecture "the early poetry of Elizabeth Bishop is discussed. The poet is positioned as an endpoint to modernism, and in her essay 'Dimensions for a Novel,' a response to Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent,' Bishop is shown to transfer Eliot's concept of 'tradition' to the construction of literary works. The poem 'The Map' is presented as an expression of Bishop's early thinking about geography and world-making. 'The Gentleman of Shalott' is considered as a contemplation of the process of perception. Finally, 'Sandpiper' is read as a meditation on the challenges of locating coherence in a shifting world." Audio, video, and transcript from Prof. Langdon Hammer's ENGL 310: Modern Poetry, Spring 2007. Also, Lecture 25.

"Elizabeth Bishop." A short encyclopedia-type article on Elizabeth Bishop. Poetry Foundation.

"Elizabeth Bishop." A brief introduction to Elizabeth Bishop. Academy of American Poets.

"Elizabeth Bishop: a centenary to celebrate." An appreciation of Elizabeth Bishop, by poet Jay Parini in The Guardian 8 Feb. 2011.

"Elizabeth Bishop and Nova Scotia." A biographical introduction to Elizabeth Bishop. The Telegraph 4 Feb. 2011.

"Elizabeth Bishop's Writings Honored by Library of America." On the publication of Elizabeth Bishop's collected works and letters by the Library of America, making her the first woman poet published by LOA. A PBS news interview with Robert Giroux and Lloyd Schwartz. 14 February 2008.

"Poems in Depth." On Elizabeth Bishop's style and poetic techniques. An exercise for analyzing tone in poetry, using Bishop's "The Fish" as an example. Also an exercise on symbolism "Symbolism in 'The Fish.'" From educational publisher Bedford St. Martins.

"Elizabeth Bishop." An introduction, biography, and brief critical overview for Elizabeth Bishop, from educational publisher Pearson/Longman.

Doreski, C.K., ed. "Elizabeth Bishop." A teaching guide for Bishop, covers classroom strategies, Bishop's style, audience, and more. From educational publisher Heath.

Page, Barbara, ed. "Elizabeth Bishop, American Poet." Primary and secondary bibliography, locations of Bishop papers, and a few recommended links. From Vassar College (Bishop's alma mater).

"The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary." Daily "breaking news" on Elizabeth Bishop events worldwide (blog entries).


literary criticism

Ausubel, Jonathan. "Subjected People: Towards a Grammar for the Underclass in Elizabeth Bishop's Poetry." Ausubel examines the language of domination and submission in Bishop's poetry, contending that there is a persistent social subtext in her poems that extends well beyond gender. Connotations 4, 1-2 (1994-95). Lengthy critical responses to this article follow.

Axelrod, Steven Gould. "Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia in Brazil." Papers on Language and Literature Summer 2001 [subscription service].

Gilbert, Roger. "Comparing Elizabeth Bishop's 'At the Fishouses' and Adrienne Rich's 'Diving into the Wreck.'" On similarities of language and intellectual differences, in regard to questions of knowledge, history, and the metaphor of immersion, in Elizabeth Bishop's "At the Fishhouses" and Adrienne Rich's "Diving Into the Wreck." Excerpt, Modern American Poetry, orig. pub. Twentieth Century Literature Summer 1997.

Graf, Anastasia. "Representing the Other: A Conversation among Mikhail Bakhtin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wislawa Szymborska." Comparative Literature Winter 2005 [first page only, blurred].

Longenbach, James R. Publisher's web site for Modern Poetry After Modernism (Oxford UP 1997). Said reviewer Michael Thurston "Cogently argued, filled with close readings that are impressive for their logic and lucidity, clearly composed out of a passionately sympathetic engagement with the poetry that is its object, and eloquently, sometimes beautifully written, Modern Poetry After Modernism is a powerful treatment of what Longenbach calls second- and third-wave poets of the twentieth-century." Covers Bishop, Jarrell, Wilbur, Richard Howard, Pinsky, Clampitt, Ashbery, and Jorie Graham.

Spiegelman, Willard. "Heirs and Heirlooms: The Legacy of Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill Spiegelman considers the meaning of "new formalism" and the legacy of Bishop and Merrill. The Kenyon Review 13, 2 (Spring 1991) [first page of article only, blurred].


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