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About kirby farrell

My new book is THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ABANDON  (Leveller's Press, 2015), which has been influencing my latest essays for Psychology Today online, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ABANDON explores letting go as a behavior and a fantasy about behavior. This fresh approach to the subject recognizes that not only do people sometimes abandon self-control; they also use the idea of letting go in important ways. As berserk running amok as in rampage killing, abandon terrifies us, yet in entertainment, sports, and the military, we are also fascinated by the possibility of getting access to hidden resources by throwing off inhibitions.  The book investigates rampage killing, military psychology, financial and criminal uses of abandon, and apocalyptic religion. The book looks closely at inner life to understand how and why abandon comes into play. 
The study of abandon develops from my POST-TRAUMATIC CULTURE: INJURY & INTERPRETATION IN THE 90s. That book understands trauma as a psychosomatic process: an injury that is also an interpretation of an injury.  The Introduction lays out the book's coordinates. It then examines literature and culture in the 1890s, when the idea of trauma was first systematically codified, and the 1990s, when the Vietnam War and feminism brought the ideas to the fore again. One goal of the book is to demystify conceptions of trauma that caused and interacted with delusion, and caused considerable harm, in post-Vietnam America.   
Among the uploads is a brief "Overview" that sketches some of the basic themes in my criticism.
At the moment I'm using this site to make available some essays on literature and culture. In particular the site assembles some arguments about magical thinking in Shakespeare and Renaissance mentality that could one day be the backbone of a book.  Meanwhile they'll be available. The premise is that Shakespeare systematically uses an overplus of meanings through deliberate ambiguity, irony, paradox, and riddling to evoke a sense of magical possibility.
The material on magical thinking includes chapters from _Shakespeare's Creation_, _Play, Death, and Heroism in Sx_, which UNC Press has put back in print, and an essay on witchcraft and wonder in Sx's WT.
 "Et in Academia Ego" is an essay in progress about the denial of creaturely motives and magical thinking in academic criticism.  
The essay on "Wilde and the Law" revisits material from a book published in Germany in 2001 and not widely available in the US.
         Cony-Catching (New York: Atheneum, l971)
         Shakespeare's Creation: the Language of Magic and Play (Amherst, Mass.: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, l976)
         Play-Death and Heroism in Shakespeare (U. North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, N.C., l989); rpt 2012
         The American Satan (New York: Walker & Co., 1990)
         Women in the Renaissance, ed. Kirby Farrell, Elizabeth Hageman, and Arthur F. Kinney (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1990)
         Snuff, (New York: Walker & Co., l991): currently available as an Amazon ebook.
         Post-Traumatic Culture: Injury and Interpretation in the 90s (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1998)
         Critical Essays on Shakespeare's Richard II, ed. Kirby Farrell (New York: G. K. Hall, 1999)
        The Mysteries of Elizabeth I, ed. Kirby Farrell (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2003)
         Berserk Style in American Culture (New York: Palgrave MacMillan (2011)
The Psychology of Abandon (revised, updated paperback version of Berserk Style in American Culture (Levellers Pres, 2015)
     7.    Chapters in Books:  
       "Making a Killing in Post-traumatic True Romance," in Pictures of a Generation on Hold, ed. Muray Pomeranz and John Sakeris (Toronto, 1996).
        "Aliens Amok: Men in Black, Policing Subjectivity in the 90s," in Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot!: Essays on Guns and Popular Culture, ed. Murray
Pomeranz and John Sakeris (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998); reprinted in Pictures of a Generation on Hold, ed. Murray Pomeranz (1996)
        "Love and the Hunt in Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis," in Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 33 (1996), pp. 370ff.
        "Play, Death and History," in Critical Essays on Shakespeare's Richard II, ed. Kirby Farrell (New York: G. K. Hall, 1999)
        "Wilde on Trial: Psychic Injury, Exhibitionism, and the Law," in Processes opf Institutionalisation: Case Studies in Law, Prison, and Censorship, ed.
Uwe Boeker and Julie A. Hibbard (Blaue Euele, 2001)
        "Wells and Neoteny," in The Time Machine One Hundred Years After, ed. Patrick Parrinder (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2001).  
        "The Industrial Organization of Anxiety," in Death and Denial: Perspectives in Psychology, Philsophy, and Religion, ed. Daniel Liechty (Praeger, 2002)
        "Toxic Corps: the Corporation as Villain," in Bad, ed. Murray Pomerance (SUNY Albany Press, 2002)
         "Wilde and the Perils of Modernism," in The Importance of Reinventing Oscar: Versions of Wilde during the Last 100 Years, ed. Uwe Boeker, et al
(Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi, 2002), pp. 25-34.
         “Witchcraft and Wonder in The Winter’s Tale,” in Essays in Renaissance Historiography, ed. Anne Lake Prescott and James Dutcher (Newark, Del:
Univ. Delaware Press, 2007)
"Necrophilia and Enchantment in Salome," in Refiguring Oscar Wilde, ed. Michael Bennet (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011)
"Eschatalogical Landscape," in Land and Identity, ed. Christine Berberich et al (Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi, 2012
“Grisly Man, Gods, and Monsters,” in Fade to Black: Death in Classic and  Modern Cinema, ed. Daniel Sullivan et al (New York: Palgrave, 2013)
       "Beyond Multiculturalism," in European Identities in the New Century, ed. Richard Nate (Koenig, 2014)
“Killing the Killer,” ed. Yochai Ataria, David Gurevitz, Haviva Pedaya, Yuval Neria, in Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture (New York:
Springer, 2015)       


Present Professor, Department of English, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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  • Victorian Monstrosity (1890s)
  • Modern American Novel
  • Shakespeare

Essays (12)

Cultural Criticism (1)

Magical Language (Excerpt from Sx's Creation) (3)

Research Works (1)

Psychology of Abandon (4)

Essays on Oscar Wilde (2)

Identity Structure in Shakespeare (3)