Joanne Creighton, President of Mt. Holyoke College, and Joyce Carol Oates scholar, offers her thoughts on JCO’s life and career in the Summer 2009 issue of On Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin, Madison alumni magazine.
“While Joyce Carol Oates was early called the ‘Dark Lady of American Letters,’ that label is not right. She has tremendous respect for the dark side of human experience, for the mysterious depths of the conscious, and for the primitive brutality at the core of physical existence. Yet Joyce’s vision is not dark. She is in fact optimistic about the possibilities of human resilience and transcendence of a distinctly American variety. Despite the violence and duress that her characters typically endure, Joyce respects their tenacious attempt to, as she wrote in the preface to Marya, ‘forge their own souls by way of the choices they make, large and small, conscious and half-conscious.'”
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“But she sprints far ahead of those who would attempt to assess her body of work. I agree with Anne Tyler, who was quoted in a Washington Post article (August 18, 1986) as saying: ‘A hundred years from now people will laugh at us for sort of taking her for granted.’ This we know: she is one of the most accomplished and significant American writers of our time.”