© 2018

Ethics and Affects in the Fiction of Alice Munro

  • Amelia DeFalco
  • Lorraine York


  • Updates and expands the scholarly examinations of Alice Munro’s work

  • Contributes to the study of affect theory and literary ethics as well as age and disability

  • Challenges perceptions and assessments of Alice Munro


About this book


Ethics and Affects in the Fiction of Alice Munro explores the representation of embodied ethics and affects in Alice Munro’s writing. The collection illustrates how Munro’s short stories powerfully intersect with important theoretical trends in literary studies, including affect studies, ethical criticism, age studies, disability studies, animal studies, and posthumanism. These essays offer us an Alice Munro who is not the kindly Canadian icon reinforcing small-town verities who was celebrated and perpetuated in acts of national pedagogy with her Nobel Prize win; they ponder, instead, an edgier, messier Munro whose fictions of affective and ethical perplexities disturb rather than comfort. In Munro’s fiction, unruly embodiments and affects interfere with normative identity and humanist conventions of the human based on reason and rationality, destabilizing prevailing gender and sexual politics, ethical responsibilities, and affective economies. As these essays make clear, Munro’s fiction reminds us of the consequences of everyday affects and the extraordinary ordinariness of the ethical encounters we engage again and again. 


Alice Munro Nobel Price winner short fiction fiction novel affect theory disability studies aging in literature literary ethics embodied ethics

Editors and affiliations

  • Amelia DeFalco
    • 1
  • Lorraine York
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

About the editors

Amelia DeFalco is University Academic Fellow in Medical Humanities in the School of English, University of Leeds, UK. She is the author of Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative (2010) and Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency, and Canadian Literature (2016).

Lorraine York is Distinguished University Professor and Senator William McMaster Chair in Canadian Literature and Culture in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada. Recent books include Margaret Atwood and the Labour of Literary Celebrity (2013), and Reluctant Celebrity (Palgrave Macmillan 2018). 

Bibliographic information


“Be prepared for essays that are productively contradictory in their assessment of Alice Munro and her use of affect—they are at once measured and dynamic, detached and engaged, earnest and playful. The contributors offer troubling, subversive, evocative moments of interpretation that illuminate how affect in Munro’s fiction is inextricably linked with and complicates a discussion of ethics. 'Keep swimming,' Lorraine York would remind us, but “mind the [intellectual] undertow.'” (Linda Morra, Professor of English, Bishop’s University, Canada)

“Shame, guilt, envy, disgust and other negative affects recur in the stories of Alice Munro, who explores insoluble moral dilemmas with deep compassion. In this groundbreaking collection, ten scholars respond with an answering compassion, paying close attention to those conflicts that relate to embodied female subjectivity. Focusing on a range of topics, from breastfeeding to murder, these essays shed new light on ancient human questions.” (Magdalene Redekop, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Toronto, Canada, and author of Mothers and Other Clowns: The Stories of Alice Munro, 1992)