Richard Stang (July 3, 1925 – December 14, 2011) was an American literary critic, author, scholar, and professor. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Stang served as a rifleman in the 104th Infantry of the U.S. Army during World War II (1943–45). By 1948, he had earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from Columbia College in New York, then completed a master’s degree in romantic literature at Columbia University in 1949. In 1958, he was awarded the Ph.D. in Victorian literature from Columbia University. Stang was an instructor at the University of Washington (1953–54), a lecturer at the City College of New York (1954–58) and an assistant professor at Carleton College (1958–1961) before joining the faculty of the Department of English at Washington University in St. Louis. He served there as associate professor, professor, and professor emeritus for more than 35 years.
Stang’s first book, Theory of the Novel in England 1850-1870 (1959) was a close look at British fiction in the critical mid-century decades when novelists themselves, along with some critics, were for the first time mounting a defense of the novel as a genre and of the role of the novelist as a sacred office. Other studies by Richard Stang include Discussions of George Eliot, (1960; republished in 2011) a collection of 16 essays by 13 critics which provides a complete history of the critical reception of Eliot’s novels, and Ford Madox Ford: Critical Essays co-edited by Stang and Max Saunders (2002), which assembles more than 70 previously uncollected Ford. Important articles by Stang include “The Literary Criticism of George Eliot” in PMLA (1957); “The False Dawn: A Study of the Opening of William Wordsworth’s The Prelude" in ELH (1966); and “Little Dorrit: A World in Reverse” in Dickens the Craftsman, edited by Robert B. Partlow, Jr. (1970).
In 1969-70, he was a special tutor in Victorian Studies at Cambridge University. He was a Fulbright Fellow (1978–79), served on the editorial board of Dickens Studies Annual, and was a reader for PMLA and Nineteenth Century Fiction.
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Acquisition Note: Source: Gift of Richard Stang. Accession number 23916
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