Work on this project spanned a great deal of time and overlapped with major events in my life—the death of my dissertation adviser, Clyde de L. Ryals, who was a Doktorvater in the best possible sense; the death of my beloved mother, Nina Smith Waldrep; and the birth of my beau tiful daughter, Chloe Nina Waldrep. While it is not possible for me to express how the past years have been both the best and the worst of times, without the support of family and friends they would have been too much to bear. I especially thank my sister, Rosa Lee Waldrep, and my father, Floyd Waldrep.
This book came out of a rich experience as a graduate student at Duke University, and I would like to thank many people there whose guidance and assistance made my work possible. Most especially, the members of my examination and dissertation committees (Susan Willis, Fredric Jameson, Jane M. Gaines, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michael Moon, Kenneth Surin), as well as members of the faculty who pro vided key support along the way (Van Hillard, Marianna Torgovnick). They deserve the credit that the historical moment that was the Duke English department in the late eighties and early nineties is due.
I would like to acknowledge the opportunity to deliver portions of this work at various events (conferences, job talks, invited pre sentations) held at the University of Southern Maine, University of California–Davis, Northwestern University, Bates College, Colby Col lege, Dartmouth College, Hofstra University, the Dead Space Gallery