Bernard Schweizer
Bernard Schweizer teaches at Long Island University (Brooklyn). His specialty is 20th and 21st-century British Literature, with an emphasis on modernism, travel writing, gender, and religious approaches. He earned his B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1992 and graduated with a Ph.D. in English literature from Duke University in 1997. He subsequently taught for three years at the University of Zurich English Department, where he revised and expanded his doctoral dissertation, now published under the title Radicals on the Road: The Politics of English Travel Writing in the 1930s (University of Virginia Press, 2001). In 1999, Schweizer received a two-year fellowship to conduct research on the British writer Rebecca West. The outcome of this project is evidenced in his second monograph Rebecca West: Heroism, Rebellion, and the Female Epic (Greenwood, 2002). During his three-months stay at the McFarlin Special Collections at the University of Tulsa in early 2000, Schweizer studied unpublished manuscripts by Rebecca West about her visits to Mexico in the late 1960s. This work led to his edition of West’s posthumous book Survivors in Mexico (Yale University Press, 2003).

Schweizer's latest book is titled Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism. Bringing to light one of the most radical kinds of religious nonconformism, this pioneering work shows that dissenting artists and thinkers have for long based their progressive, liberal, humanistic convictions on a personal enmity towards God. This wide-ranging intellectual history and keen literary analysis constructs a narrative of God-hatred that is both provocative and edifying. Whoever wants to find out what Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, Elie Wiesel, Rebecca West, and Philip Pullman have in common--namely, their more or less hidden enmity towards God--will find this indispensable reading. This book was published by Oxford University Press in fall 2010.

Also among Schweizer’s recent publications is a contextual edition of Rebecca West’s World War I novel The Return of the Soldier, co-edited with Charles Thorne. The Broadview edition includes a wide-ranging introduction, placing West’s novel in the context of Modernism, and it includes a number of fascinating appendices with World War I poetry and prose, World War I paintings, prints, and photographs, the seminal essay on shell shock by W.H. Rivers, and a host of contemporary book reviews of West’s novel.

Among Schweizer’s other recent work is an essay collection titled Not So Innocent Abroad: The Politics of Travel, co-edited with Ulrike Brisson. This book examines the ways in which intellectuals abroad used the discourse of travel as a platform to voice political ideas and to seek to influence domestic debates about political theory and practice. Schweizer contributed a chapter titled “The Politics of Travel Writing in 2006” to this collection; it is a stringent analysis of the political tendencies evidenced in almost 100 pieces of travel writing published in one year.

In 2009, Schweizer edited a special issue of the journal Studies in the Humanities. The theme of the special issue is “Twentieth Century Artists as Public Intellectuals,” and it brings together incisive analyses of the contributions to social and political debates made by the likes of George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Rebecca West, Günther Grass, and others.

Schweizer has further edited a book titled Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621-1982 (Ashgate 2006). This provocative collection of essays challenges the stereotype that epic is the exclusive domain of male writers. Through a rethinking of generic boundaries and an adjustment of the critical focus, the contributors show that women writers from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries adapted the masculine epic tradition to suit their own aesthetic needs and to lend a heroic voice to their literary, social, and historical concerns.

Another essay collection, Rebecca West Today: Contemporary Critical Approaches, edited by Schweizer, was published by the University of Delaware Press in 2006. It is the first-ever essay collection on this major 20th-century British writer. The book contains a series of highly readable and trenchant essays designed to reassess West's importance as an artist and thinker, both with regard to the historical and aesthetic developments of her own day and with regard to her continued relevance at the present time. This multidisciplinary book features essays ranging from historicism, to gender studies, to textual and aesthetic analyses, to philosophical approaches.

Schweizer founded the International Rebecca West Society (in 2003) and is currently President of the association. He organized the first International Rebecca West Conference in September 2003 and served as co-organizer for the second and third bi-annual West conferences in New York City in 2005 and 2007. For further information, please consult the West Society website.
Associate Professor English Department
Long Island University
Brooklyn Campus
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Page last modified on November 23, 2010