Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Vicki Mahaffey

Kirkpatrick Professor of English and Gender and Women's Studies

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Ph.D., Princeton University; M.A., Princeton University; B.A., University of Texas at Austin

Teaching Interests

Modernist literature; Irish literature; fairy tales and gender formation; Beckett; Eliot; Homer; Joyce; Wilde; Woolf; Yeats; literary authority and the Holocaust

Selected Publications


  • Modernist Literature: Challenging Fictions. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2007.
  • States of Desire: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and the Irish Experiment. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Reauthorizing Joyce. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995.

Book Contributions

  • "Love, Race, and Exiles: The Bleak Side of Ulysses." James Joyce Annual. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007. 92-108.
  • "Dubliners: Surprised by Chance." A Companion to James Joyce. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2007.
  • "Joyce and Gender." Palgrave Advances in James Joyce Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Works in Progress

  • Collaborative Dubliners. An innovative collection of essays on each story in Dubliners, each by a pair of specialists in dialogue with each other.
  • Never After: Femininity as Fairy Tale argues that we can better appreciate the culturally specific nature of how "femininity" is constructed across time and nationality by comparing different versions of the same fairy tale. Such comparisons illuminate how versions of the same tale can endorse dramatically different values, and it sets the stage for a new appreciation of women writers who attempted to rewrite the script for femaleness against the familiar traditions of their culture by rewriting these tales.
  • The Joyce of Everyday Life, currently under consideration, is an effort to demonstrate how language can "played" almost orchestrally if we pay attention to both the history of words and to their associative linkages with other words. Using a reading method loosely modeled on Freud's Psychopathology of Everyday Life, I range through Joyce's entire corpus to illustrate what words can tell us about everyday objects and activities. The book tries to show that Joyce's work, like Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads of a century before, has the potential to retrieve the magic of the ordinary. The structure of the book plays off of the titles of Aristotle's writings (another champion of the extraordinary implications of the ordinary). Aristotle's titles include On Justice, On the Poets, On Wealth, On the Soul, On Pleasure, On Animals, etcetera. My chapters have similar (if less ambitious) names: "On Beds," "On Sheets," "On Fat," "On Love," "On Home."