Woodland, Malcolm 1958-
Woodland, Malcolm 1958-
Born October 19, 1958. Education: University of Victoria, B.A.; University of Toronto, M.A., Ph.D.
Office—Department of English, University of Toronto, 170 St. George St., Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, associate professor of English.
Contributor of essays and articles to periodicals, including English Studies in Canada, Twentieth Century Literature, Canadian Poetry, Mosaic, and the Wallace Stevens Journal.
Malcolm Woodland is an associate professor of English at the University of Toronto who specializes in twentieth-century and contemporary American poetry. His book Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode focuses on the works of the American poet Wallace Stevens in an attempt to illustrate an overarching apocalyptic motif. As Christi-anity and Literature contributor Jacqueline Vaught Brogan noted, Woodland begins his study by first providing "an overview of what constitutes apocalyptic writings, noting that they are almost always religious or theological texts and never really literary texts," and distinguishing between the interpretation of apocalyptic in its more "traditional" form, as a revealing rather than an epochal catastrophe. "Readers … will find Woodland's book of interest for two primary reasons," Brogan ventured: the text's detailed explanation of the various texts that represent apocalyptic works and its examination of biblical "passages from Daniel, Isaiah, Joel, Matthew, Mark, and Luke." According to David Jarraway in a review for Twentieth Century Literature, the text is a "tripartite analysis of Stevens's apocalyptic poetics." Jarraway observed: "Woodland provides three contexts for revolving the apocalyptic mode in a select number of poems from Stevens's poetic canon," which includes historical, formalist, and comparative methods of analysis. The reviewer noted that through "the admirably variorum treatment of Stevens's apocalyptic poetics through six fairly detailed chapters, Woodland aims to show that it is a poetics considerably fraught with tension, ambiguity, and ambivalence." Woodland's study employs a close reading of several poems, including "The Auroras of Autumn" and "The Figure of the Youth as a Virile Poet," which yields commentaries regarding the signified imagery that the language evokes and the complexities of gender and identity. Although Jarraway remarked that Woodland has a "predilection for overly long paragraphs which can sometimes stretch over two or three rather tall pages," he stated that the lengthy passages "can also palpably help readers to stake out his ‘peculiar position’ in the annals of modernist literary history."
Stevens's situation within the English canon of American poetry is one of Woodland's primary concerns, and the text offers a multitude of evidence that supports Woodland's claim that a strict categorization of this poet's work by the academic community is not appropriate or applicable. In English Studies in Canada, John Holmes observed: "Woodland puts forward a reading of Stevens's later poetry which resists what he sees as the overly schematic tendency among Stevens's critics to identify his work as either modernist or (proto-)postmodernist." Holmes claimed that "Woodland's critical stance depends upon maintaining very carefully his own complex relation with postmodernism and in particular with poststructuralist criticism." Woodland achieves this union by studying the specific aspects of the poetry that challenge earlier critical appraisals of Stevens's work and then utilizing an approach heavily influenced by twentieth-century French philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. Woodland's "tone is one of modesty and caution," noted Holmes, "as he has to be careful not to overreach himself and leave his own arguments vulnerable to the same forensic scrutiny" that applies in his own critical assessments. Holmes concluded that this cautious and meticulous methodology results in "a substantial, insightful, and rigorous contribution to our understanding of Stevens's later poetry."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christianity and Literature, September 22, 2006, Jacqueline Vaught Brogan, review of Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode, p. 184.
English Studies in Canada, December 1, 2006, John Holmes, review of Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode, p. 237.
Twentieth Century Literature, June 22, 2006, David Jarraway, "Apocalypse without Apocalypse," review of Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode, p. 237.
University of Toronto Web site,http://www.utoronto.ca/ (September 27, 2007), faculty profile.