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Robert Dale Parker



Robert Dale Parker (he, him, his) writes about American literature and critical theory, especially poetry and fiction. His latest book, The Literature of Extreme Poverty in the Great Depression, is due out in 2024. Parker's scholarship and teaching pursue interests in literary form and aesthetics, history, gender, the socio-political roles of literature, and a pleasure in thinking through critical theory. Parker has published two books and many articles on the fiction of William Faulkner, including Faulkner and the Novelistic Imagination and “Absalom, Absalom!”: The Questioning of Fictions, as well as The Unbeliever: The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and The Invention of Native American Literature, a critical and theoretical study of the emergence of American Indian literature and American Indian literary studies across the twentieth century. He has also undertaken a large-scale recovery of early American Indian poetry, leading to a series of articles and two books: Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 and The Sound the Stars Make Rushing through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, which includes an edition of the works of the first-known Native American literary writer along with a biography and cultural history. Committed to merging scholarship with readability and theory with interpretation, he has also published How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies (4th ed. 2020) and Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies. Recognized by campus awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching, Parker has taught courses in the various periods of American literature, especially after 1900, as well as critical theory surveys and courses in Modernist literature, Native American literature, Faulkner, and other topics.

Research Interests

  • American literature, especially fiction and poetry, especially after 1900
  • Critical theory
  • American Indian literature
  • Interested in bringing historicist, socio-cultural criticism together with formalist criticism


English and History, A.B., Brown University
English, Ph.D., Yale University

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, English
Department Affiliate, American Indian Studies Program
Professor, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory

Recent Publications

Parker, R. D. (2021). Modernist Literary Studies and the Aesthetics of American Indian Literatures. Modernism/modernity Print Plus, 5(4).

Parker, R. D. (2020). The Multiplicity of Early American Indian Poetry. In M. B. Taylor (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Native American Literature (pp. 131-148). Cambridge University Press.

Parker, R. D. (2019). How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. (4 ed.) Oxford University Press.

Parker, R. D. (2019). How to Make a Queer: The Erotics of Begging; or, Down and Out in the Great Depression. American Literature, 91(1), 91-119.

Parker, R. D. (2018). A Poetics of the Great Depression: Style and Aesthetics in Tom Kromer's Waiting for Nothing. Studies in American Fiction, 45(2), 235-257.

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