RW Rudnicki, PhD

Rob Rudnicki, LinkedIn


Here’s a brief Bio: 

As a professor of American literature, I specialize in post-1900 fiction and literature of the South. I also teach an awesome science fiction class in which we have fun discussing literary portrayals of historical paradigm shifts as well as imaginative and clever renderings of controversial social issues. I taught at Louisiana Tech University for almost 20 years, where I was an endowed professor. Further, I have also taught at Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University, and Alcorn State University, all representing a diverse career of university teaching of 25 consecutive years. Currently, I am interested in the rhetoric of AI, transhumanism, animal studies, deep ecology, and genomics, as well as the ways our discourse is changing to accommodate these forces that are technological, but also social and linguistic, as we learn to speak, write, interpret, and portray our world no longer strictly in terms of the Anthropocene, but in a new age of the Machinocene. After recently completing some writing on this topic, I am further excited about teaching at Texas Christian University!

I have published essays, reviews, book chapters, and a book on figures such as Walker Percy, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Robert Penn Warren, Carson McCullers, Ralph Ellison, Richard Ford, Lewis Nordan, several on John Kennedy Toole, and some on Thomas Bell, Charles Olson, Stuart Dybek, and Jericho Brown. My writing has appeared mostly in the Mississippi Quarterly, the Southern Quarterly, the Faulkner Journal, the South Central Review, and the Arkansas Review. My work has appeared in books by Louisiana State University Press and the University of Alabama Press, and in a digital edition by eBooks on EBSCOhost, which is accessible online through almost all university libraries.

Many of my essays have been reprinted and made available through the global service known as The Free Library, which is especially significant to me in the sense that no purchase or subscription is required, no on-site visit at a university library is required, and no enrollment at a college or university and no tuition is required. Further, Google easily translates the document into any language. Anyone in the world only needs an Internet connection and an interest in higher education to access them. For example, one essay uses both literal architecture and house metaphors in William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, and Nietzsche to understand the relationship between humanism and postmodernism. Read it here!:

My work has also been quoted in many scholarly books over the years, including ones by the presses of the University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Wesleyan University, and Oxford University. Most recently, Roberto Masone, in his 2017 Cambridge Scholars Press book, Marlene NourbeSe Philip, Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Dismantling of the English Norm, applies discourse analysis to translation, semantic, and Caribbean studies issues in works such as Zong! Masone employs one of my descriptions of fugue, “an escape from one mode of consciousness to another, and a literal escape from home to a new or unfamiliar place,” to “better understand” the “fantastic state disclosed by” Philip’s “writing technique” (68). Yet without digging deeper, in her 2018 Lexington Press book, The Pursuit of Happiness and the American Regime: Political Theory in Literature, Elizabeth S. Amato decides, “in a discussion of Percy’s theory of re-entry, suicide, and The Second Coming, Robert W. Rudnicki borrows the list of selves presented in the twenty questions quiz” (98-99). I’m just happy that my work, whether older or more recent, is still engaging readers and emerging scholars!

My most recent publication is a long essay-interview with the poet Jericho Brown, which appears in Mississippi Quarterly Spring 2017/18 Vol. 70/71 No. 2, and was published November 2019—the first critical essay on Jericho Brown to appear in an esteemed scholarly journal. I arranged and wrote the essay so it would appear on the 100th-year anniversary of H. L. Mencken’s famous essay, “Sahara of the Bozart” (1917 & 1920), in which he lampooned the US “Godawful South” for its complete absence of art and culture of any kind, of “beaux arts,” but of course the historical irony was that Faulkner and many Southern Renaissance figures were on the cusp of emerging. I chose Professor Brown to interview (and he graciously agreed) to ask him, and especially MQ readers, if he and today’s poets and writers of the South might represent a second, or 21st-century “southern renaissance,” one indebted to the first, but profoundly new.

Jericho Brown, by the way, went on to win the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry! My revealing interview with him can be read right here at!

National University Library System: Database Tutorials (If you are an enrolled student, you can use this system to access these texts on JSTOR, Project MUSE, Gale or other databases as well)

I can be contacted at the following email address about these or other books or essays: || R.W. Rudnicki, PhD   


“The subject of my study is what [Walker] Percy felt was the subject of most twentieth-century fiction: ‘a man who has very nearly come to the end of the line.’ Percy explains: ‘The American novel in past years has treat such themes as persons whose lives are blighted by social evils, or reformers who attack these evils, or perhaps the dislocation of expatriate Americans, or of Southerners living in a region haunted by memories. But the hero of the postmodern novel is a man who has forgotten his bad memories and conquered his present ills and who finds himself in the victorious secular city. His only problem now is to keep from blowing his

brains out’ (MB 112). ‘Very nearly’ is the operative phrase in the above passage. Percy once said that he was interested in a Quentin Compson ‘who didn’t commit suicide.’ It is for this reason that Percy made the observation that ‘the contemporary novel deals with the sequalae’ (103). Percy the moviegoer, who always tried to understand and keep up with contemporary popular culture, wanted to know what happens to people after the book ends and the show is over: when they when the fight, get the girl, and accept the reward money, then what? Go to Wal-Mart? . . . Whether it be a tension between immanence and transcendence, amnesia and memory, history and possibility, Thanatos and Eros, or signifier and signified, fugue, understood heuristically, is a metaphor for the problems of interpretation itself: a metaphor for the metaphor.”

Percyscapes: The Fugue State in Twentieth-Century Southern Fiction

Louisiana State University Press, Download or Listen to ebook at, Googlebooks

—Robert W. Rudnicki

“Euphues is a didactic discourse on the dangers of romantic love but the Euphuistic style get is name from the elevated and Latinate poetic diction attributed to John Lyly. Greek for “of good natural parts, graceful, witty,” Lyly probably got the term from Roger Ascham’s The Scholemaster (1570), an appropriate literary heritage for Ignatius J. Reilly, whose names evokes the patron saint of education. Ascham defines Euphues as follows: “Euphues is he that by goodness of wit and applicable by readiness of will, to learning, having all other qualities of the mind and parts of the body that must another day serve learning” (OED). Shakespeare would later satirize the style by having Falstaff speak using Euphuism in Henry the Fourth, Part One (circa 1596) as he imitates the king, but the technique has been recognized in other plays as well. Toole’s familiarity with Lyly has not been explored, although his appreciation—and ultimately his parody—of Lyly’s ornamented diction and strained syntax must be considered by serious readers who wnt a more complete understanding of Toole’s work.”

“Euphues and the Anatomy of Influence: John Lyly, Harold Bloom, James Olney, and the Construction of John Kennedy Toole’s Ignatius”

The Mississippi Quarterly, Read at, JSTOR

—Robert Rudnicki

“So although the X on the personalized tag is of course the modern abbreviation of the word Christ derived from the Greek chi, the first letter of Xpistos or Khristos, the [license] plate’s other significations seemed relevant and consistent with Dr. Percy’s interest in symbol. First of all, if one might for a moment accept that the alphabet can be anthropomorphized, especially by children, then surely the letter X has always been one of the more intriguing characters. As children learn their alphabet, “A” may stand for apple and “C” may be for cat, but X is always for X-ray or xylophone. Even the exotic Z and the regal Q have nothing on the enigmatic and ineffable X.”. . . But the seemingly incongruous last letter of the [Jesus X] license plate called to mind some of the many other references and uses we have for X, a letter, like Percy’s geographical and linguistic Delta, that is both symbolic and iconic: the so-called Generation X and the others I have listed, certainly, but also the American tradition of protest and iconoclasm represented by figures such as Malcolm X, whose historical relationship to Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. DuBois, and ultimately Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass before him, cannot be left out of any serious discussion of a changed (and rapidly changing) South.”

“Ineffable Sociabilities: Criss-Crossing, Game-Playing, and Sight-Seeing with Walker Percy in His Delta”

The Southern Quarterly, Read at

—Robert W. Rudnicki

“Many writers and intellectuals have suggested that the world is ultimately a delusion whose only truths are the network of discourses and epistemic formations that define us from age to age, and that we are not so much noble wayfarers lost in a cosmos as we are inscribed by a postmodern house of cards that disguises itself according to just such rational, nostalgic, and comforting linear narratives. This argument is about houses–customhouses, farmhouses, prisonhouses, slaughterhouses, churchhouses, bighouses, schoolhouses, and human edifices of all shapes and sizes in our histories and fictions–as well as the literal and figurative foundations upon which they stand. I hope to point out that, whether cast by using binaries such as foundationalism and antifoundationalism or essentialism and anti-essentialism, modern and contemporary narratives are replete with tensions between positions that are fundamentally relativistic or referential. Assuming that it is possible to reasonably define and characterize these positions, one might say that foundationalists believe that knowledge is subject to constraints originating outside of human culture, whereas antifoundationalists argue that all human knowledge is the product of contingent historical and institutional contexts.”

“Turtles All the Way Down: Foundation, Edifice, and Ruin in Faulkner and McCarthy”

The Faulkner Journal, read at, JSTOR

—Robert Rudnicki

Washington Crossing the Delaware—Emanuel Leutze 1851

TCU Online

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