Oates has taught English at the University of Detroit and the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, and has been affiliated with Princeton University since 1978. She writes about contemporary American life, which she sees as defined by violence. She is particularly concerned with the connection between violence and love. Her characters are ordinary, inarticulate people who sublimate the terrible things that happen to them. Although some of her novels have been labeled gothic, the violence in them is neither mysterious nor necessarily dramatic; it occurs randomly as in everyday life.
A prolific writer, Joyce Carol Oates has published over twenty novels. Her novels include With Shuddering Fall (1964); a trilogy: A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Expensive People (1968), and them (1969); Wonderland (1971); Cybele (1979); Celestial Timepiece (1980); American Appetites (1989); and I Lock My Door Upon Myself (1990). She has also published volumes of short stories, poems, literary criticism, and a volume of her reflections on pugilism, On Boxing (1988).
See Lee Milazzo, ed., Conversations With Joyce Carol Oates (1989); study by Ellen G. Friedman (1980).
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