Michael Groden

Michael Groden

Fellow: Awarded 1979
Field of Study: English Literature

Competition: US & Canada

University of Western Ontario

Michael Groden is Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario. He has taught there since 1975, and in 2006 was named a Distinguished University Professor.

Groden holds degrees from Dartmouth College (B.A. 1969) and Princeton University (M.A. 1972, Ph.D. 1975), and he received an honorary D.Litt. from the University College Dublin on June 16 (Bloomsday), 2004. In 2007 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Groden’s primary research area is in twentieth-century British and Irish literature, specifically the works of James Joyce. His book Ulysses in Progress (Princeton UP, 1977) established for the first time the complex sequence in which Joyce wrote Ulysses, demonstrating how the hundreds of surviving drafts, typescripts, and proofs relate to each other. Groden’s picture of Joyce in the process of re-inventing the English novel in Ulysses has stood mostly intact over the years. It also formed the basis for three other huge projects.

First was The James Joyce Archive, a 63-volume collection of all Joyce’s extant manuscripts in photo-facsimile, the first such project ever undertaken for a modern author (Garland Publishing, 1977-79). Groden served as general editor of the series and as volume editor of the 16 Ulysses volumes. Then came James Joyce’s Manuscripts: An Index (Garland Publishing, 1980), Groden’s catalogue of Joyce’s papers that for the first time brought together information on holdings in more than twenty large and small library collections; this work remains solid, outdated only by the discovery of new manuscript material. Finally came Hans Walter Gabler’s edition of Ulysses (1984), a re-editing of the novel’s faulty original published text based on the extant manuscripts. Groden served as an advisor to Gabler as he prepared the edition, and he wrote widely—in the New York Review of Books, TLS, and the James Joyce Quarterly—when the edition became controversial.

After nearly two decades away from the Ulysses manuscripts, Groden returned to them in September 2001, when a cache of 25 manuscripts—mostly early drafts of parts of Ulysses that were not thought to have survived—was discovered in Paris and offered to the National Library of Ireland. Groden was invited to be the Library’s academic consultant as it contemplated purchasing the collection and then set about (successfully) to do so, and he wrote early accounts of the collection after it was acquired by the NLI.

Groden’s newest book on Joyce, Ulysses in Focus: Genetic, Textual, and Personal Views, will be published in 2010 by the University Press of Florida in its Florida James Joyce Series. His work-in-progress is a book-length personal account of the origins of his fascination with Ulysses and of his professional life with Joyce’s book.

Groden’s research has extended beyond Joyce. He and Martin Kreiswirth co-edited The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, a 775-page reference guide to literary theory that, since its publication by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1994, has been a standard source of information on this vast field. The online electronic version of the Guide won an award from the American Association of Publishers. Along with a third editor, Imre Szeman, Groden and Kreiswirth produced a much enlarged and revised second edition of the Guide (985 pages), which was published both in print and online in 2005.

In the years since Ulysses in Progress appeared, a critical movement developed in France in which the critical and theoretical approaches usually applied to published texts—from linguistics, psychoanalysis, sociology, women’s studies, deconstruction, and so on—were also applied to manuscripts. Ulysses in Progress, which looked at early drafts of the work in order to study the writing process, was often cited as an English-language precursor to this movement in criticism, which became known as critique génétique. Groden co-authored an article with one of critique génétique’s main practitioners, Daniel Ferrer of the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes in Paris, and the two, along with Jed Deppman, edited and translated the first book on the subject to appear in English, a collection of translated French articles entitled Genetic Criticism: Texts and Avant-textes, which was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2004.

Groden has written widely on textual criticism, scholarly editing, and bibliography, both in relation to James Joyce and more generally. His account of Gabler’s editing of Ulysses has appeared as the Afterward to all paperback reprintings of the edition since 1993. His 1991 article “Contemporary Textual and Literary Theory” is an often-cited account of similarities and differences between textual criticism, theory, and literary theory as these fields evolved from the 1960s to the late 1980s.

In 2004, the centennial of the year in which Ulysses is set, Groden appeared in no fewer than three documentary films: Bloomsday Cabaret (produced and directed by Rosemary House in Dublin and St. John’s, Newfoundland, and screened in Dublin on June 16, 2004, the one-hundredth anniversary of “Bloomsday,” the single day on which Ulysses is set); Imagining Ulysses (produced by David Blake Knox and Hilary Fennell for Radio Telefís Éireann and televised there on June 16, 2004); and Bloom Is a Cod! The Bloomsday Centenary (produced by Ian Daffern and first screened in 2005).




Profile Photograph by Andrew Tolson.

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