Shell, Marc 1947(?)-

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Shell, Marc 1947(?)-


Born in Canada, c. 1947; married Susan Meld; children: two. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1968; Trinity College, Cambridge University, B.A., 1970; Yale University, M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1975.


Office—Department of English and American Language and Literature, Harvard University, Barker Center, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138-3879. E-mail—[email protected]


State University of New York at Buffalo, former associate professor of English; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Babbit Professor of Comparative Literature and professor of English.


American Antiquarian Society.


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Prize fellow.


The Economy of Literature, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1978.

Money, Language, and Thought: Literary and Philosophic Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1982.

The End of Kinship: "Measure for Measure," Incest, and the Idea of Universal Siblinghood, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1988.

Children of the Earth: Literature, Politics, and Nationhood, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor and translator) Elizabeth's Glass: With "The Glass of the Sinful Soul" (1544) by Elizabeth I, and "Epistle Dedicatory" and "Conclusion" (1548) by John Bale, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1993.

Art and Money, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.

(Editor, with Werner Sollors) The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor) American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of a Culture, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Stutter, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.


Marc Shell is a university professor whose interests include research in the representational similarities between money and literature, Christian influences on kinship and art, and the multilingual heritage of American literature. Shell, who is able to speak seventeen languages, is a prolific writer who has published a number of books linking his various areas of research. In Art and Money, for instance, Shell explores the relationship between visual art and money, and how changing cultural attitudes toward economics have wrought changes in the fortunes of artists and the styles of their works. According to Charles Hagen in the New York Times, Shell "performs a valuable service in focusing attention on a subtle and difficult subject…. At the same time, he provides many suggestive instances, in the history of art and money, of the shared ideas that inform them both." Art Journal contributor Hannah Feldman described the book as "a stunning indication of how deeply, and for how long, culture and exchange, art and money, aesthetics and economics, have been linked."

Elizabeth's Glass: With "The Glass of the Sinful Soul" (1544) by Elizabeth I, and "Epistle Dedicatory" and "Conclusion" (1548) by John Bale contains Renaissance texts—one of them by the princess who would become Queen Elizabeth I—that appear in facsimile on one page with Shell's translation on the other. A similar format animates The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations, a collection Shell edited with Werner Sollors. The anthology presents literary works from Native American, Polish, Danish, Norwegian, Chinese, and other ethnic sources, all of which were written in the United States.

Two of Shell's books are part memoir, part academic analysis. In Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of a Culture, Shell shares his own experiences as a 1950s polio patient and his subsequent recovery, as well as the stories of a multitude of polio victims. He also analyzes how the epidemic directly and indirectly impacted various artistic media. In a Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences article, Christopher J. Rutty regarded Polio and Its Aftermath to be "one of the most original histories of a disease, and especially of polio, that I have read." Rutty further commented: "Shell's book covers a lot of fertile ground in a unique and interesting way. His enthusiasm for his subject is infectious." Philip J. Overby observed in a review of the book for the New Atlantis that Shell has written "an ambitious and thoughtful book, an effort to find cultural and historical meaning in America's ‘war on polio,’ held together by the author's personal experience of the disease." Overby went on to commend the book for its "thoughtful insights and many engaging narratives."

Shell has also suffered from a lifelong stuttering problem, at one time being told by his high school principal that the disorder was a sign of being "retarded." Shell tackles this medical phenomenon in Stutter, which includes basic information about stuttering, Shell's own experiences as a stutterer, anecdotes of prominent stutterers and the techniques they employ to avoid stammering during public speech, and facts about how stutterers have contributed to society. In a review for the Spectator, Jonathan Mirsky described the book as a "comprehensive, learned, even playful" work. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked: "Shell offers an impressive if challenging memoir-cure-treatise on the contributions of stuttering to the arts and beyond." Regarding an unexpected impact the book has had, Shell shared this with Telegraph contributor Harry Mount: "Since the book has come out in America, several Harvard students who stutter have written to me, saying how they now might consider a career in academia, when they couldn't face it before because they were so horrified by the idea of lecturing. They've seen that I've been able to do it."



Art Journal, summer, 1996, Hannah Feldman, review of Art and Money, p. 107.

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, December 22, 2005, Christopher J. Rutty, review of Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of a Culture, p. 232.

New Atlantis, spring, 2006, Philip J. Overby, "Polio Stories," p. 91.

New York Times, August 31, 1995, Charles Hagen, "The Marriage of Art and Money," p. C16.

Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2005, review of Stutter, p. 48.

Spectator, June 30, 2006, Jonathan Mirsky, "Stalling at the Starting Line," review of Stutter.

Telegraph (London, England), February 20, 2006, Harry Mount, "It's No Laughing M-M-Matter," review of Stutter.


Harvard University Web site, (December 5, 2006), profile of Marc Shell.

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Shell, Marc 1947(?)-

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