Castle, Terry 1953-
CASTLE, Terry 1953-
(Terry Jacqueline Castle)
PERSONAL: Born October 18, 1953, in San Diego, CA; daughter of Richard P. (an engineer) Castle and Mavis Parker (an artist). Education: University of Puget Sound, B.A., 1975; University of Minnesota, M.A., 1978, Ph.D., 1980.
CAREER: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, assistant professor, 1983–85, associate professor, 1985–88, professor of English, 1988–, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, 1998–, chair of English department, 1997–2000.
MEMBER: American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Modern Language Association of America, Northeast American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships from Bush Foundation, 1975–78, Harvard University, 1980–83, Stanford University, 1987–88, and the Guggenheim Foundation, 1989–90; William Riley Parker Prize, Modern Language Association, 1985, for "The Carnivalization of Eighteenth-Century English Narrative"; James Clifford Prize, American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, 1988; Crompton-Noll Prize, Lesbian and Gay Caucus of the Modern Language Association, 1993, for "Marie Antionette Obsession"; Breakthrough Book in Victorian Studies, Lingua Franca, 1995, for The Apparitional Lesbian; Editor's Choice Award, Lambda Literary Foundation, for The Literature of Lesbianism.
Clarissa's Ciphers: Meaning and Disruption in Richardson's "Clarissa," Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1982.
Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth Century English Culture and Fiction, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1986.
Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
(Author of introduction and notes) Jane Austen, Emma, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1998.
(Author of introduction and notes) Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Boss Ladies, Watch Out!: Essays on Women, Sex, and Writing, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.
Courage, Mon Amie, London Review of Books (London, England), 2002.
(Editor) The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Publications of Modern Language Association, English Literary History, Eighteenth-Century Studies, London Review of Books, New Republic, Atlantic, New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture.
SIDELIGHTS: "Terry Castle's contributions to gay and lesbian studies are among its most dazzling," Catharine R. Stimpson wrote in the Women's Review of Books. "A gifted critic, an incisive and witty writer, she also seeks to draw a usable ethic from gay and lesbian history." Castle's work generally focuses on the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, and her "immersion in great 18th and 19th century writers such as Samuel Richardson, [Jane] Austen and the Brontes [sisters Charlotte, Anne, and Emily] has clearly sharpened her own critical faculties and contributed more than a little to her engaging style and elan," Merle Rubin wrote in a Los Angeles Times review of Boss Ladies, Watch Out!: Essays on Women, Sex, and Writing.
In The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture, Castle's third work of literary and cultural criticism, "she show[s] brilliantly that woman-to-woman eroticism is, in Western literature, constantly represented in supernatural terms," Liza Featherstone explained in a Nation review of one of Castle's later books. Because lesbianism was so threatening, Castle argues, in literature it either became invisible, something to be read between the lines of stories about relationships between women, or it was sublimated into ghost stories or other "safer" spaces. "Although its likeliest audience consists of readers already in the habit of consuming literary criticism," Ellen Herman commented in the Lambda Book Report, "those with an inclination to test out this genre for the first time will find The Apparitional Lesbian a welcome place to begin. Castle has produced something rare in contemporary criticism: a book that is both sophisticated and accessible."
Castle continued her exploration of the cultural history of the supernatural in her next book, The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny. This volume is a collection of Castle's essays that were all shaped in some way by psychologist Sigmund Freud's "The Uncanny." Freud argued, and Castle argues here, that the "uncanny"—the supernatural, paranormal, etc.—could not have existed without the Enlightenment. Without a background presumption that the world is an orderly place that can be understood rationally, and without the cultural imperative for evidence to the contrary to be repressed, there would be no reason for human minds to consider the supernatural exceptional or interesting. Castle also examines the epistemological problems that the repression of the uncanny created, and examines the ways that these conflicts played out in literature. Patricia Meyer Spacks praised Castle's work in The Female Thermometer in Modern Language Quarterly, writing, "With a gift for finding, organizing, and interpreting data, she exemplifies the rich resources of an approach informed by alertness to the details of social, psychological, material, and ideological—in short, cultural—history."
Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits is a biography of the friendship between these two British writers, the former a celebrated, closeted gay playwright, the latter the lesbian novelist behind the controversial book The Well of Loneliness. Although the two were very different in personality, they shared a strikingly similar sense of fashion and appear to have based characters in their own works upon the other. The Well of Loneliness features a cheerful playwright, John Brockett, modeled on Coward, and Coward's play Blithe Spirit appears to be based on Hall's reports of communicating with her dead lover through seances. However, the question of whether the two can legitimately be classified as friends rather than mere acquaintances is a controversial one; as Karla Jay noted in Signs, "Tellingly, despite all of the alleged friendship between Hall and Coward, there is not one photograph of them together." Jay also questioned whether Blithe Spirits could truly be considered as the act of a friend, since Hall presumably did not appreciate Coward making light of the spiritualism in which she strongly believed. (In defense of Castle, Blithe Spirits was first produced in 1941 and Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall focuses on Hall's life in the years before 1934, when the relationship between the two may have been different.) Yet Jay still praised the work as "a smart, concise, breezily written … tidy essay." Featherstone also commended Castle's writing, noting that "even her footnotes are a delightful read." Plus, Featherstone continued, "it's refreshing to read an account of a literary relationship that is neither a messed-up love affair nor a messed-up family drama."
In reference to her career, Castle says that "It's a sad life one leads as a Female Literary Critic. All that pressure to live up to masculine expectations." She attempts to explain and defend the profession in the essay collection Boss Ladies, Watch Out. A Publishers Weekly contributor found the anthology "challenging and thought-provoking." Roxana M. Popescu agreed in a New York Times Book Review analysis, finding Castle "irreverent and sometimes delightfully impudent," and observed that with her arguments she "makes plenty of noise, but without sacrificing substance or refinement along the way."
The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall is a massive book, over 1,000 pages long, that collects a broad swath of the writings about lesbianism produced by Western culture from 1500 through 1975. It is "a vast array of offerings that demonstrate the richness of the lesbian literary heritage," Jay, writing in the Women's Review of Books, concluded. While some pieces already recognized as classics are included, many of the sixteenth through eighteenth century pieces are likely to be "unfamiliar to many readers and will therefore open up a whole new vista of 'lesbian literature," Loralee MacPike wrote in the Lambda Book Report. Unlike many anthologies about lesbianism, Castle focuses on pieces that are about rather than necessarily by lesbians (in fact, nearly half of the pieces included were written by men), creating a record not of these women's self-definitions but of the social construction of their lives. Each piece features an introduction by Castle that explains who the author was and places him or her in historical and cultural context. "These introductions are immensely learned," MacPike noted, "and they also offer links to earlier or later writers and show the influence of earlier writers on more modern lesbian writers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Buck, Claire, editor, Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, Prentice Hall General Reference (New York, NY), 1992.
College Literature, October, 1996, Cynthia Lowenthal, review of The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny, p. 199.
Criticism, summer, 1997, Scott J. Juengel, review of The Female Thermometer, p. 443.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), February 1, 2003, Toby Clements, review of Courage, Mon Amie.
GLQ: a journal of lesbian and gay studies, September, 2005, Kate Chedgzoy, review of The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall, p. 457.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, April, 1997, Misty G. Andlerson, review of The Female Thermometer, p. 277.
Lambda Book Report, January-February, 1994, Ellen Herman, review of The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture, p. 25; November, 1996, Ellen Kanner, review of Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits, p. 29; December, 2003, Loralee MacPike, review of The Literature of Lesbianism, p. 36.
Library Journal, February 15, 1997, Melodie Frances, review of Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall, p. 135; July, 2003, Ina Rimpau, review of The Literature of Lesbianism, p. 81.
Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2003, Merle Rubin, review of Boss Ladies, Watch Out!: Essays on Women, Sex, and Writing, p. E-11; November 30, 2003, review of The Literature of Lesbianism, p. R3.
Modern Language Quarterly, September, 1996, Patricia Meyer Spacks, review of The Female Thermometer, p. 510.
Modern Philology, February, 1998, Ronald Paulson, review of The Female Thermometer, p. 400.
Nation, December 9, 1996, Liza Featherstone, review of Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall, p. 27.
New Republic, February 28, 1994, Lawrence Lipking, review of The Apparitional Lesbian, p. 38.
New York Times Book Review, November 3, 2002, Roxana M. Popescu, review of Boss Ladies, Watch Out!, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, July 1, 2002, "She's the Boss," p. 71.
Signs, summer, 1997, Kristina Straub, review of The Female Thermometer, p. 1065; autumn, 1999, Karla Jay, review of Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall, p. 266.
Time, August 14, 1995, Belinda Luscombe, "Which Persuasion?," p. 73.
Times Literary Supplement, January 30, 2004, Lucy Daniel, "Casanova's Nuns," review of The Literature of Lesbianism, p. 4.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1994, Julie Abraham, review of The Apparitional Lesbian, p. 36; May, 1997, Catharine R. Stimpson, review of Noël Coward & Radclyffe Hall, p. 6; September, 2003, Karla Jay, review of The Literature of Lesbianism, p. 13.
Women's Studies, June, 1996, Janet Retseck, review of The Apparitional Lesbian, p. 411.
Lambda Literary Foundation Web site, http://www.lambdaliterary.org/ (September 2, 2005), "Author and Editor Terry Castle to Receive Lambda Literary Editor's Choice Award."
Terry Castle Home Page, http://www.stanford.edu/∼castle (September 2, 2005).