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David McWhirter

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Areas of Speciality
  • Film Studies
  • American Literature and Culture
  • (979) 845-4564
  • LAAH 562
Professional Links


Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1984

M.A., University of Virginia, 1977

B.A., Yale University, 1972

Research Interests

Dr. McWhirter’s Scholars@TAMU Profile

  • Late 19th and 20th Century British Literature and Culture
  • American Literature and Culture
    • Modernism
    • Gender Studies
    • Early Cinema
    • U.S. Southern Studies
    • Henry James
    • Eudora Welty


Henry-James-in-Context - mcwhirterEditorHenry James in Context. Cambridge University Press, 2010

Long misread as a novelist conspicuously lacking in historical consciousness, Henry James has often been viewed as detached from, and uninterested in, the social, political, and material realities of his time. As this volume demonstrates, however, James was acutely responsive not only to his era’s changing attitudes toward gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity, but also to changing conditions of literary production and reception, the rise of consumerism and mass culture, and the emergence of new technologies and media, of new apprehensions of time and space.

Aesthetic-Subjects - McWhirterEditor, with Pamela MatthewsAesthetic Subjects. University of Minnesota Press, 2003

Recent calls for a return to aesthetics occur precisely at a moment when it is increasingly evident that nothing concerning aesthetics is self-evident anymore. Determined to recover the value of aesthetic experience for artistic, cultural, and social analysis, the contributors to this volume–prominent scholars in literature, philosophy, art history, architecture, history, and anthropology–begin from a shared recognition that ideological readings of the aesthetic have provided invaluable insights.

Henry-Jamess-New-York-Edition - McWhirterEditor, Henry James’s New York Edition: The Construction of Authorship. Stanford University Press, 1995

Toward the end of Henry James’s career, Charles Scribner’s Sons offered him the opportunity to publish his collected works in a single edition under the overall title The New York Edition of the Novels and Tales of Henry James (1907-1909). Rather than simply reprint his fictional oeuvre, James entered into a massive work of self-monumentalization: revising the texts extensively; writing prefaces that have become classic texts on prose aesthetics and the novelist’s art; and omitting many works, among them some major novels.

Desire-and-Love-in-Henry-James - McWhirterDesire and Love in Henry James: A Study of the Late Novels. Cambridge University Press, 1989

With painful consistency, Henry James denied his characters the experience of fulfilled love. Not surprisingly, many critics have concluded that he simply could not accept the idea of people loving. Yet in the final pages of The Golden Bowl, James affirms and celebrates the renewal of Maggie Verver’s marriage and the consummation of her passion. How did he arrive at this belated embrace of love? David McWhirter argues that James’ last three novels – usually seen as a homogenous phase in his career – in fact embody a radical refashioning of his vision.


Selected Articles

  • “A Future for Henry James,” in Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond, ed. Mikko Tuhkanen (State University of New York Press, 2014), 225-48.
  • “Young Henry James:  The Outsider,” in Transforming Henry James, ed. Anna De Biasio, Anna Despotopoulou and Donatella Izzo (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013):  10-23.
  • “Secret Agents: Welty’s African Americans,” in Eudora Welty, Whiteness, and Race, ed. Harriet Pollack (Athens, GA:  Univ. of Georgia Press, 2012):  114-30.
  • “Eudora Welty Goes to the Movies: Modernism, Regionalism, Global Media,” MFS (Modern Fiction Studies) 55 (Spring 2009): 68-91.
  • “Fish Stories: Revising Masculinity in Eudora Welty’s ‘The Wide Net,’” Mississippi Quarterly 62.1 (Winter 2008-09): 35-58.
  • “Photo-Negativity: The Visual Rhetoric of James’s and Coburn’s New York Edition Frontispieces,” English Language Notes 44 (Fall/Winter 2006): 101-16.
  • “Henry James, (Post)Modernist?” Henry James Review 25 (Spring 2004): 168-94.
  • “‘Saying the Unsayable’: James’s Realism in the Late1890s,” Henry James Review 20 (Fall 1999): 237-43.
  • “Woolf, Eliot, and The Elizabethans:  The Politics of Modernist Nostalgia,” Virginia Woolf: Reading the Renaissance, ed. Sally Greene (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1999), 245-66.  ReprintedELN (English Language Notes) 55:1 (Spring/Summer 2013):  231-47.
  • “‘A Provision Full of Responsibilities’: Senses of the Past in Henry James’s Fourth Phase,” in Enacting History in Henry James, ed. Gert Buelens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 148-65.
  • “What’s Awkward About The Awkward Age?” in Centuries’ Ends, Narrative Means, ed. Robert Newman (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 212-21.
  • “The Novel, The Play, and the Book: Between the Acts and the Tragicomedy of History,” ELH (Fall, 1993): 787-812.