Skinner, John 1945-
SKINNER, John 1945-
Born 1945. Education: Received Ph.D.
Office—Department of English, Turun Yliopisto (University of Turku), Fin-20014, Turku, Finland. E-mail—[email protected].
University of Turku, Turku, Finland, senior lecturer in English and literary theory.
Tell-Tale Theories: Essays in Narrative Poetics, Turun Yliopisto Press (Turku, Finland), 1989.
Constructions of Smollett: A Study of Genre and Gender, University of Delaware Press (Newark, DE), 1996.
The Stepmother Tongue: An Introduction to New Anglophone Fiction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
An Introduction to Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Raising the Novel, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2001.
Skinner's articles have also appeared in journals and magazines, including the Atlantic Literary Review.
A senior lecturer in English at Finland's University of Turku, John Skinner focuses on post-colonial and Anglophone writings in many of his critical studies. "I'm most interested in literature written in all the various 'world englishes,'" Skinner noted in an article for the Federation of Finnish-British Societies in Finland Web site, "generally excluding native English writers (though not Black British ones) and American writers (but not African Americans, or any of the ethnic minority literatures of the United States)." Once called "Commonwealth literature," the writings of authors from around the world who use the English language are included in such an appellation, from Filipino to Nigerian to African American. Additionally, Skinner has examined the works of contemporary and early writers of English fiction, including Anita Brookner and Tobias Smollett.
Skinner's 1992 study The Fictions of Anita Brookner: Illusions of Romance examines the work of the Booker Award-winning novelist in three groupings: her early "French" period of novels; the experimental works of her middle period; and the "andrealist" novels of her later period. S. Landon, writing in Choice, found Skinner's book a "necessary introduction," but also noted that there is a "continual sense that there should be more said." In Constructions of Smollett: A Study of Genre and Gender, Skinner turns his attention to that eighteenth-century pioneer of the novel in a "lucid and perceptive book," according to John Valdimir Price, writing in Notes and Queries. Price further noted that Skinner's analytical study is a "good old-fashioned critical reading" and that the writing is "for the most part engaging and witty." For Skinner, Smollett's novels are not so much realist as they are representatives of a "skeletal romance (or pseudo-romance) fleshed out with satire," as he noted in his book. Albert J. Rivero, reviewing Constructions of Smollett in Studies in the Novel, found that Skinner's book, "while not so theoretically or critically novel as its author would have us believe, … will nonetheless prove useful to future readers of Smollett." Rivero also thought that Skinner is "sympathetically attuned to the peculiarities of Smollett's narratives."
Skinner analyzes post-colonial literature in his 1998 The Stepmother Tongue: An Introduction to New Anglophone Fiction, a study of works in English from writers in India, the South Pacific, Africa, Celtic regions of the United Kingdom, and ethnic writers in the United States. K. Tololyan, writing in Choice, felt that Skinner provides "competent, brief commentaries" on writers both well known and lesser known. Tololyan also praised "the attention Skinner pays to bilingual writers." Gerald Porter, reviewing the work in World Literature Today, thought that Skinner "makes important and interesting additions" to other texts on the same theme, adding writers such as Toni Morrison who are not normally thought of in the context of post-colonial literature. For Porter, Skinner's work is "more an extended study of a polymorphous language than an engagement with colonialism." The same reviewer concluded that The Stepmother Tongue"is an exceptionally accurate and well-researched volume, and takes its place at once as the best available book for students." Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Ruth Morse found some of Skinner's categories of what is "new" and what is "old" literature "more forced than helpful." However, Morse also noted that Skinner "creates new juxtapositions that encourage us to rethink the expansion of Europhone literatures."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Skinner, John, Constructions of Smollett: A Study of Genre and Gender, University of Delaware Press (Newark, DE), 1996.
Choice, October, 1992, S. Landon, review of The Fiction of Anita Brookner: Illusions of Romance, p. 302; January, 1999, K. Tololyan, review of The Stepmother Tongue: An Introduction to New Anglophone Fiction, p. 881.
Notes and Queries, September, 1997, John Valdimir Price, review of Constructions of Smollett: A Study of Genre and Gender, p. 410.
Studies in the Novel, summer, 1997, Albert J. Rivero, review of Constructions of Smollett, p. 258.
Times Literary Supplement, February 5, 1999, Ruth Morse, review of The Stepmother Tongue, p. 31.
World Literature Today, fall, 1999, Gerald Porter, review of The Stepmother Tongue, p. 833.
Federation of Finnish-British Societies in Finland,http://www.finnish-britishsocieties.com/stepmother.htm/ (November 11, 2003), John Skinner, "English Literature and the Stepmother Tongue."
University of Turku Web site,http://www.utu.fi/hum/engfil/prof.html (November 11, 2003), "John Skinner."*