Natoli, Joseph P. 1943-

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NATOLI, Joseph P. 1943-


Born August 24, 1943, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Joseph and Mary Natoli; married Elaine Tuminelli; children: Amelia, Brenda. Education: Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1966, M.A., 1968; State University of New York—Albany, Ph.D., 1973.


Office—Center for Integrative Studies in Arts and Letters, 304 Linton Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail[email protected]


New England College, Henniker, NH, instructor, 1971-73, assistant professor of English, 1973-75; Bluefield State College, Bluefield, WV, acting director of library and adjunct lecturer in English, 1975-77; Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, head of reference and bibliography at university library, 1977-81; University of California, Irvine, bibliographer and adjunct lecturer in humanities, 1981-83, vice-president and president of Irvine Staff Association; Michigan State University, East Lansing, teacher at Center for Integrative Studies in Arts and Letters and bibliographer of English and American literature, beginning 1983.


Twentieth-Century Blake Criticism: Northrop Frye to the Present, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1982.

(Editor and contributor) Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Freudian Dissidents and Non-Freudians; A Casebook, Archon (Hamden, CT), 1984.

(Compiler, with Frederik L. Rusch) Psychocriticism: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1984.

(Editor and contributor) Tracing Literary Theory, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1987.

(Editor and contributor) Literary Theory's Future(s), University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1989.

Mots d'Ordre: Disorder in Literary Worlds, State University of New York (Albany, NY), 1992.

(Editor, with Linda Hutcheon) A Postmodern Reader, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1993.

Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture, 1990-1992, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1994.

(Editor) Vincent Leitch, Postmodernism: Local Effects, Global Flows, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1996.

A Primer to Postmodernity, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 1998.

Speeding to the Millennium: Film & Culture, 1993-1995, State University of New York (Albany, NY), 1998.

Postmodern Journeys: Films and Culture, 1996-1998, State University of New York (Albany, NY), 2001.

(Editor, with Hans Bertens) Postmodernism: The Key Figures, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2002.

Memory's Orbit: Film and Culture, 1999-2000, State University of New York (Albany, NY), 2003.

Contributor of articles and reviews to professional journals. Poetry editor, Henniker Review, 1971-73.


Joseph P. Natoli's interest in crossing, and reinventing, disciplinary boundaries comes forth in Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Freudian Dissidents and Non-Freudians; A Casebook. Applying the insights of Freudian analysis to literature is an old game, this collection of essays by twelve academics seeks to push the boundaries a bit, with each author offering a different psychological perspective and applying it to a particular book or two. "On the whole, I derived more pleasure from the comparatively lucid accounts of individual psychologies than from their sometimes rigid and over-contrived application to particular works of literature," maintained Corinna Peterson in the Journal of Analytical Psychology. Natoli goes further in Tracing Literary Theory, seeking to break down the idea of a universal canon and academia's neat divisions of subjects into Aristotelian categories. Instead, he seeks a carnival of voices, "interconnected and interrelated discourses [that] draw upon each other in differing fashions and with differing, often contrary results." The essays provide Marxist, Feminist, Deconstructionist, and Foucaultian perspectives on different aspects of meaning and socially constructed truth in literature, history, and politics. "Under Natoli's able editorship, the dozen essays do achieve an intertextuality that clarifies individual approaches and enables them to resonate with others in the collection," noted reviewers Jeff Parker Knight and Christie Logan in Literature in Performance. They added, "His eloquent preface and opening essay, underscoring his commitment to the heterogeneous voices of theory, are illuminating and inspirational." In Literary Theory's Future(s) Natoli reflects on more recent developments, including the move away from history and cultural development as central issues for literary comparatists. In this sense, explained a Poetics Today reviewer, this collection "retains the central issues raised in [Tracing Literary Theory], namely questions of how to inscribe a future for literary theory transposed into a cultural critique of a broad nature without its losing its identity as a literary critique."

In addition to the written word, Natoli has taken a strong interest in the medium of film and its relationship to the broader culture, producing a series of books chronicling the films of the 1990s. Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture, 1990-1992 captures the uneasiness that Natoli, and in his view America, felt as the millennium entered its last decade. "What haunts Natoli?" asked Journal of Popular Films and Television contributor Kathy Merlock Jackson. "He presents a 'catalog of hauntings': the New World Order, free play of the market, cultural difference, South Central LA, Wilding, rich and poor, abortion and euthanasia." This and subsequent volumes in the series draw on individual films to illustrate larger themes, and unspoken assumptions, in the culture at large. The results are "part political journalism, part autobiography, and part musings on individual films," according to J. Belton in a Choice review of Memory's Orbit: Film and Culture, 1999-2000.

In addition to these works of contemporary literary and film theory, Natoli has also produced major works on the postmodernism that underlies these theories. After coediting A Postmodern Reader, which reproduces many of the seminal essays from the giants of postmodern thought, Natoli "decided to face the considerable pedagogical challenge of translating post-modern theory for students in A Primer to Postmodernity, " as Amy Elias explained in Contemporary Literature. Even the structure of the book reflects the playful, constantly reemerging nature of the subject, with some sections written as interviews between people or even things representing different philosophical positions, and others using a narrative method based on the "Star Trek" series, with an imaginary captain exploring various "galaxies of the mind" while following a Prime Directive not to interfere with these different ways of seeing the world. "The sheer bravado of this kind of approach elicits admiration," noted Elias in her review, adding that "for all his schtick, this is a writer who knows his territory well."

In Postmodernism: The Key Figures Natoli and his coeditor, Hans Bertens, discuss the impact of Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and other giants of the field. "All these have had separate treatment over the years, but what you get here is a survey of postmodernism's effect on them, what they add to it, and how issues of cultural politics, representations and identity continue to challenge and redefine contemporary thinking," explained Stuart Hannabuss in Reference Reviews.



Book Reviews, spring, 1990, James R. Bennett, review of Tracing Literary Theory.

Choice, November, 1989, N. Lukacher, review of Literary Theory's Future(s); November, 1998, M. Uebel, review of Speeding to the Millennium: Film & Culture, 1993-1995; April, 2001, S. Vander Closter, review of Postmodern Journeys: Film and Culture, 1996-1998; October, 2003, J. Belton, review of Memory's Orbit: Film and Culture, 1999-2000.

Contemporary Literature, spring, 1999, Amy Elias, review of A Primer to Postmodernity, p. 161.

Journal of Analytical Psychology, July, 1985, Corinna Peterson, review of Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Freudian Dissidents and Non-Freudians; A Casebook, pp. 331-333.

Journal of Popular Film and Television, winter, 1997, Kathy Merlock Jackson, review of Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture, 1990-1992, p. 184.

Literature in Performance, November, 1988, Jeff Parker Knight and Christie Logan, review of Tracing Literary Theory, pp. 100-102.

Poetics Today, summer, 1990, Elizabeth Wright, "An Ideological Reading of Narrative," pp. 437-442; autumn, 1990, review of Literacy Theory's Future(s), pp. 721-722.

Reference Reviews, Volume 16, issue 5, 2002, Stuart Hannabuss, review of Postmodernism: The Key Figures, p. 7.

Times Literary Supplement, May 18, 1990, Lorna Sage, "Trouble at the Theory Carnival," p. 523.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1997, W. M. Hagen, "Postmodernism: Local Effects, Global Flows," p. 882.


Turtleneck Online Journal, (May 27, 2004), Keith Wikle, "Leading with the Good Left Jab."*