Clare Eby

Clare Eby has explored interdisciplinary topics since her dissertation on images of the businessman in American fiction. Her work on the realist/naturalist novel in relation to the iconoclastic cultural critic Thorstein Veblen (whose training was in political economy) culminated in Dreiser and Veblen, Saboteurs of the Status Quo (1998). Eby has edited a version of Dreiser’s most autobiographical novel (The Genius [2008]) never before in print, The Norton Critical Edition of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle [2002], and co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Theodore Dreiser [2004] and The Cambridge History of the American Novel (2011). She is completing “Until Choice Do Us Part: The Theory and Practice of Marital Reform in the Progressive Era.” This book places the lives and writings of three literary couples in the context of a trans-Atlantic campaign to reform marriage that, Eby argues, is central to the Progressive era—and continues to influence debates about marriage today. Intrigued by Upton Sinclair’s claim that “all art is inescapably propaganda,” she is starting to look at the relationship between explicitly reformist journalism and novels so political as to have occasioned doubts about their status as “literature.” (This project will finally provide Eby a platform to write about one of her favorite authors, the little-known David Graham Phillips, described by recent graduate students as “so bad that he’s good.” ) However, if confined to a desert island where she was only allowed two authors, Eby would probably select Faulkner and Morrison, two of her favorites to teach.

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