Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Patchwork is intended to be a resource for students, scholars, and fans of Joyce Carol Oates’s work. Begun as a simple bibliography in August of 1995, the site has since grown tremendously, offering, perhaps, a surface reflection of JCO’s own deep literary project. A goal is to provide a free exchange of information, and to encourage discussion and scholarship among JCO’s admirers around the world.

book coversAs an extension of this website, in 2014 I began creating an archive of Ontario Review, the literary journal run by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates; and I started a scholarly journal, Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies.

Read an interview discussing Celestial Timepiece.


JCO has written a poem called “Celestial Timepiece,” but this site actually took its name from a passage in her Gothic masterpiece, Bellefleur:

Celestial Timepiece was the largest quilt, but Matilde was sewing it for herself—it wasn’t to be sold: up close it resembled a crazy quilt because it was asymmetrical, with squares that contrasted not only in color and design but in texture as well.

“Feel this square, now feel this one,” Matilde said softly, taking Germaine’s hand, “and now this one—do you see? Close your eyes.” Coarse wool, fine wool, satins, laces, burlap, cotton, silk, brocade, hemp, tiny pleats. Germaine shut her eyes tight and touched the squares, seeing them with her fingertips, reading them. Do you understand? Matilde asked.

Noel complained that Celestial Timepiece made his eye jump. You had to stand far back to see its design, and even then it was too complicated—it gave him a headache. “Why don’t you just sew some nice little satin comforter,” he said. “Something small, something pretty.”

“I do what I am doing,” Matilde said curtly.


For its first twenty years, Celestial Timepiece was served from the University of San Francisco; starting in 2015 it is moving to a new home on WordPress.

See a visual history of Celestial Timepiece.


Joyce Carol Oates/portrait/La Stampa
Joyce Carol Oates by Paolo Galetto — Watercolor on cotton paper/La Stampa 24/06/2012

In constructing this site, I have had the good fortune to encounter a number of generous individuals who have provided valuable information, assistance, and encouragement including Kathleen Manwaring, keeper of the JCO Archive at the Syracuse University Library, and Greg Johnson, author, critic, and biographer of JCO.

Joyce Carol Oates herself has been astoundingly generous in allowing me to use her material on this web site; and though it is my own personal project, it has nonetheless become the de facto official JCO website.


I am a reference librarian at the University of San Francisco.

JCO and I
“JCO and I” — A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books, San Francisco, 1990.


  1. P.S. JESSICA HAGEDORN! Forget to include her name in the pantheonic list in my last email. You and your readers would enjoy her, I think – vivid characters, plots that often veer into the dark side,
    delicious prose, sympathies for the underdog and scorn for the powerful, etc. And Hagedorn is a great introduction to life in the Philippines. Try the crime anthology she edited, MANILA NOIR, or
    her first novel, DOG EATERS, or her story of Phil-Am rock musicians, GANGSTER OF LOVE,
    or TOXICOLOGY, her description of an affair between an old American writer (a Dorothy Parker-inspired character perhaps) and a young Filipina film director.


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