Linda J. Holland-Toll

Publications Cited

“Absence Absolute: A Recurring Pattern in Faulknerian Tragedy.”

News Values, Stereotypes and Widowhood: a preliminary investigation into media coverage of celebrity widows 
 Dr. Lauren Rosewarne

“Another definition of the black widow is the association with webs and the spinning of them: these ideas connect to phrases such as “web of deceit” and “web of lies”. Linda J. Holland-Toll in her discussion of the novels of William Faulkner, likens one of the characters to a black widow spider on the grounds of “webs of self-spun significance” and discusses one character as “sucking dry” those around her, with the character being “[f]orever on the hunt for new victims” (Holland-Toll, 1998, n.p.).”,16ee5db4

Literary analysis: Conflict of the feminine in As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Devlin McKernan

Literary critic Holland-Toll perhaps best explains this, comparing Cash’s attention to Addie's coffin to Addie's attention to imparting on her children the aforementioned principles, saying that "what he [Cash] can do for her will be done and done well, but he understands that he cannot fulfill Addie. His comment that bad materials are no excuse for bad work implicitly recognizes boundaries. The locus he constructs for his mother will, indeed, be as esthetic as he can possibly make it. There is nothing else he can do for a woman who sees life as a dress rehearsal for death"(Holland-Toll).


Philip Cohen and Joseph R. Urgo

“Linda J. Holland-Toll’s wide-ranging “Absence Absolute: The Recurring Pattern

of Faulknerian Tragedy’’ (MissQ 51: 435–52) describes Faulknerian tragedy

as a narrative pattern in which a corrupt, often marginalized character

perverts all positive values, “pervades the lives of the other characters

and leaves them in a dystopic world.” Holland-Toll maintains that

Faulkner emphasizes significant Southern cultural objects to “heighten

the significance of the characters responsible for the abnegation of humanity’’ and thus our awareness of his tragic world.”

As American As Mom, Baseball, And Apple Pie: Constructing Community in Contemporary American Horror Fiction.

As American As Mom, Baseball, And Apple Pie: The Construction Of Community In Contemporary American Horror Fiction by Linda J. Holland-Toll (American Literature and Genre Studies, Newberry College, South Carolina) is a fascinating critique and analysis of a popular American literary genre. Drawing from a survey of fifty contemporary novels, As American as Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie looks closely at the recurring community types and demonstrate distortions of commonly accepted mores as the abused privilege of an oligarchical few. Persuasively argued, tying a fascinating common theme to a widely enjoyed category of popular fiction, As American As Mom, Baseball, And Apple Pie is so acutely close to the mark that it grants a deeper insight into the horror fiction of today and tomorrow.

Tomb of the Headless Werewolf

Literary critic Linda J. Holland-Toll might label this kind of novel "disaffirmative" horror fiction. As she writes in AS AMERICAN AS MOM, BASEBALL, AND APPLE PIE, "disaffirmative horror is that fiction which does not supply a happy ending, however, qualified, and allow people to retain intact their basic assumptions about such value systems as those embedded in communities." In OFFSPRING, the family envisioned by the Woman is in many ways preferable to that envisioned by Steve Carey.

However, what really intrigued me was the quote from Holland-Toll, "disaffirmative horror is that fiction which does not supply a happy ending, however, qualified, and allows people to retain intact their basic assumptions about such value systems as those embedded in communities." I think this especially applies to the cinematic ending in The Lost but not to the ending in the novel. In the novel, Ray Pye definitely gets his comeuppance, whereas in the film, we just see some seriously violence and total breakdown and no justice being served.

“Teaching Horror: Subversion, Sublimnity, and SO MUCH BLOOD!”

Frances Auld

“Linda Holland-Toll speaks to the ways in which real cultural tensions about contagions can be explored through fictions of horror in As American as Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Constructing Community in Contemporary American Horror Fiction.”

Wisker, Gina. Horror Fiction: An Introduction. London: Continuum, 2005

As Linda Holland-Toll puts it,

horror fiction will be handily defined as any text which has extreme or supernatural elements, induces, as its primary intention and/or effect, strong feelings of terror, horror, or revulsion in the reader, and generates a significant degree of unresolved dis/ease within society (Holland-Toll, As American As Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie 6)

It generates just enough ‘disease’ (dis-ease) that it cannot be glossed over and returned to ‘business as usual’. Horror tells us fundamental truths about what we fear, what we desire, and the dangers of complacency.

Linda Holland-Toll challenges Stephen King’s argument that disturbance takes place in order to reaffirm and reconfirm culture’s values:

that the most effective horror fiction, disaffirmative horror fiction, is that which subverts and lays bare the cultural assumptions which we use to avoid facing certain unpleasant realities. (Holland-Toll 2)

“Bakhtin's Carnival Reversed: The Shining as Dark Carnival”

Bryan R. Terry, et al. “Haunted Men: Stephen King’s The Shining and the Men’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s.” NCUR, April 2008.

Linda J. Holland-Toll sees the novel’s hotel as a Bahktinian caracal in reverse, undermining society’s morals instead of reaffirming them.”

Sezin Piotruszewicz Koehler. American Monsters: An Imaginary Ethnography.

In her article, “Bakhtin's Carnival Reversed: The Shining as Dark Carnival,” Linda J. Holland-Toll refers to the “seductive” and “siren-like” song of The Shining.

M. P. McCrillis, ‘Lynching Stephen King'. World and I. Volume: 18:7. July 2003. 268.

McCrillis is a lecturer in English at the University College of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia

“In this scene, as in so many others, King is interested in the spectacle of those who've gone over the edge. In Jack Torrance, he is quick to turn loose a psychotic killer, but he has little patience for the psychic intricacies that lead people to psychosis in the first place. This does not mean that King fails to provide some sort of backdrop for Jack's leap into insanity. It may be the case, as Linda Holland-Toll points out in the Journal of Popular Culture, that "Jack could be readily susceptible to the alienating and inhuman song of the Overlook [Hotel] precisely because he is damaged from his childhood by the authoritative and conservative discourse of his father and the meek and submissive response of his mother." However, patriarchal, conservative discourse hardly seems an adequate explanation for the character's deranged attempts to murder his family. This kind of defense may work in an English department, but try telling it to a judge.

It is the supernatural that is the deus ex machina of the plot, driving Jack over the edge. While we, like Jack's wife and son, manage to escape the madness and flee the violence of the Overlook Hotel, at the end of the day, as Holland-Toll expresses it, "The Shining does not affirm the foundations of many of our accepted beliefs." We are left with little knowledge other than that we have borne witness to evil.”

“Bluestockings Beware: Cultural Backlash and the Re/Configuration of the Witch in Nineteenth Century Literature.”

Reading in the dark - The 13 Days of Halloween: Day 12 Women, Witches, and Books”

Yet there is a larger discussion occurring in Witchfinder regarding female roles in both religion and literary and scientific circles. In her article
"Bluestockings Beware: Cultural Backlash and the Re/Configuration of the Witch in Popular Nineteenth Century Literature"
Linda J. Holland-Toll asks, “What cultural work is underway when the image of women as witches is used to discuss educated women, women to whom the mildly opprobrious epithet “bluestocking” has also been applied?”
In attempting to examine this trope of educated women being associated with witches, Holland-Toll finds the images to be frustratingly contradictory.

Is it possible, however, that the contradictions are what make this such a useful archetype for representing intelligent females? Namely, that the tarot card image of the witch manages to convey the positive and negative aspects of being an educated woman, that is, both the inner sense of power and the sense that such powerful women are not always regarded tolerantly by the culture at large. This theme was apparent to me even as a child when I read _The Witch of Blackbird Pond_.

The Bluestocking

Indeed, nineteenth-century bluestockings were frequently branded "witches" according to the abstract of the article Bluestockings Beware: Cultural Backlash and the Reconfiguration of the Witch in Popular Nineteenth-Century Literature, by Linda J Holland-Toll.

Feminist witches have always looked to our foremothers for inspiration - one of the earliest feminist covens in America was called the Susan B. Anthony Coven No 1.  In fact, it's still going!  (Definitely a second-wave feminist type of organisation, though.)

The connection is probably because both intellectuals and witches transgress against the patriarchal dictum that women are not allowed to be powerful.  And of course, there is significant overlap between intellectuals, feminism and witchcraft.

“Bridges Over and Bedrock Beneath: The Role of Ballads in Sharyn McCrumb=s Ballad Series.”

Report from the 32nd Popular Culture Conference

2 “Superstition and the Detective: The Supernatural in Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad Series” by Linda J. Holland-Toll, English.

Exploration of how this series of books manages to bring ghosts and the supernatural in the strictly logical genre of the detective novel.

"Contemporary Tragedy: Stephen King's Pet Sematary.”

Stephen King. Harold Bloom - editor. Philadelphia: Chelsea House.1998. 228

Holland-Toll, Linda. "Contemporary Tragedy: Stephen King's Pet Sematary," Studies in Weird Fiction, 16 (Winter 1995): 28-33.

“Ligeia: The Facts in the Case.”

"Ligeia": A Triumph Over Patriarchy

Erin Leigh Helmey

A more contemporary form of literary theory is reader-response criticism, which attempts to show how the text shapes the reader's interpretation or how the reader shapes the text. Reader-response critic Linda Holland-Toll tries to show how the text shapes the reader, for she asserts that many readers are "resisting" to the unrealistic occurrences in Poe's tales, especially "Ligeia." Readers of horror fiction in Holland-Toll's class are described as having the "inability to accept the literal story itself, often indicated by such comments as 'this story cannot be viewed seriously' or 'the narrator is entirely unreliable' or 'I am dragged into this story by a rope around my neck'" (10). Holland-Toll asserts that Poe's intention was to frighten and disturb readers, who often resist the reliability of such stories because they lack the ability to willingly suspend belief. While using the reader-response theory to ground her argument, Holland-Toll actually employs genre criticism in order to offer a solution to the growing number of Poe's resisting readers. For her, the horror genre provides explanations for the use of the supernatural and can help students to find "Ligeia" more realistic. In the horror genre, the reader must be willing to accept the supernatural as a possibility. Holland-Toll points out other critics' interpretations with the purpose of revealing their allegorical readings, which for her, degrades the horrific effect by distancing it. While Holland-Toll offers insight into the horror genre and its numbers of resisting readers, she fails to reveal anything new about the text and actually comes close to condemning other critics' search for allegorical meanings. At one moment, Holland-Toll evaluates Jones' interpretation of Ligeia as a Siren and mentions that she would argue Ligeia is "the metaphoric extension of a fallen angel;" however, she fails to elaborate extensively on her own ideas and actually contradicts herself, for she is, in fact, inferring that Ligeia is something other than a human as the reader is told, therefore, applying an allegorical meaning of her own (14).

Publication Availability

As American As Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Constructing Community in Contemporary American Horror Fiction is in 325 libraries world-wide. While the coverage is extensive in all fifty states of the United States, including such libraries as Duke, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the University System of California, including UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, As American As Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie is also in libraries in Hong Kong, Egypt, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The British Library and the University of Cambridge hold this book.

The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction (Vol. 1),

The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction (Vol. 2) while in substantially fewer libraries, are part of the holdings of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Emory University, Harvard University, the British Library and Stanford University, as well as the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto

The following articles are widely available from such on-line programs as Gale, Ebsco Host

“Bridges Over and Bedrock Beneath: The Role of Ballads in Sharyn McCrumb=s Ballad Series,”

“Bluestockings Beware: Cultural Backlash and the Re/Configuration of the Witch in Nineteenth Century Literature,”

“Harder than Nails, Harder than Spade: Anita Blake as ‘the tough guy’ Detective,”

“From Disturbance to Comfort Zone: Cross Generic Strategies in Dean R. Koontz,”

“Bakhtin's Carnival Reversed: The Shining as Dark Carnival,”

“Absence Absolute: A Recurring Pattern in Faulknerian Tragedy.”