Joyce Carol Oates

Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938–, American author, b. Lockport, N.Y., grad. B.A., Syracuse Univ., 1960, M.A., Univ. of Wisconsin, 1961. She taught English at the Univ. of Detroit and the Univ. of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and has been affiliated with Princeton since 1978. Oates writes about contemporary American life, which she sees as often defined by violence. She is particularly concerned with the connection between violence and love. Her characters are mainly 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.

Extraordinarily prolific, Oates has published more than 100 books in a variety of genres, among them dozens of novels. These include With Shuddering Fall (1964); a trilogy: A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967, rev. ed. 2003), Expensive People (1968), and them (1969); Wonderland (1971); Childwold (1976); Cybele (1979); Bellefleur (1980); Solstice (1985); Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990); What I Lived For (1994); My Heart Laid Bare (1998); Blonde (2000), a fictional work based on the life of Marilyn Monroe; Mudwoman (2012); and a Gothic mystery, The Accursed (2013). Oates's numerous short stories are collected in such volumes as Wheel of Love (1970), A Sentimental Education (1981), Heat (1991), Will You Always Love Me? (1996), Faithless (2001), Wild Nights! (2008), and Sourland (2010). Oates also has written thrillers under the name Rosamond Smith, plus poems, plays, children's fiction, essays, literary criticism, and a book on boxing (1988). After the sudden death of her husband in 2008, she wrote A Widow's Story (2011), a chronicle of grief and mourning.

See G. Johnson, ed., The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982 (2007); L. Milazzo, ed., Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989); biography by G. Johnson (1998); studies by L. W. Wagner, ed. (1979), E. G. Friedman (1980), T. Norman (1984), H. Bloom, ed. (1987), J. V. Creighton (1992), M. C. Wesley (1993), G. Johnson (1987 and 1994), B. Daly (1996), and G. Cologne-Brookes (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Joyce Carol Oates from Fact Monster:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies