Books out now from Madelon Sprengnether


Great River Road: Memoir and Memory

“In this sequel to Crying at the Movies Sprengnether confronts the moment of recognition when ‘solidly middle aged’ moves forward to the uncharted territory of aging and mortality. Wise, intimate, profound, we travel with her along the Great River Road as she charts her spiritual autobiography. Through the lens of her daughter’s wedding, her visit to Tintern Abbey, and her long journey to the place where her father died, we are priveleged to share in her reflections both spiritual and quotidian.”

– Sybil Houlding, faculty, Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis

Great River Road

New Rivers Press, 2015

Crying at the Movies: A Film Memoir

“In these insightful essays, even the writing itself is cinematic, as Sprengnether’s memories and quick film summaries meld into one another, making it seem as if the author hasn’t just seen many movies, but has actually lived one.”

– Publishers Weekly

“What is most interesting is the way the moviegoer, dropping more or less casually into this or that film, finds her emotions surprised, then passionately stirred, by the ‘entertainment’ on offer.”

– Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Times

“An amazing book—bold, brilliant, beautifully written.”

– Carol Gilligan

Crying at the Movies

Graywolf Press, 2002

Rivers, Stories, Houses, Dreams

“Dear Truesdale,

Jesus, who is Madelon Sprengnether, and where did you find her? What extraordinary writing! I haven’t come across that spark of sensuousness, sensuality and beauty in a long time. Why hasn’t she had pieces in all the major journals? When was the last time we read such sheer sensuality as can be found in Kingdoms of Clay”? Lady ChatterlyThis is imagination, genuine craft, heart-rending power. Sappho would have embraced her.  Rivers, Stories, Houses, Dreams shouldn’t be sold—it should be given to all the writers and power brokers you can think of. Need I say how moved I am by the book?”

Al Poulin


New Rivers Press, 1983

The House on Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad

(Co-edited by Madelon Sprengnether, C.W. Truesdale.)

“The nearly 50 short pieces of travel writing that comprise this volume display such a wealth of perspectives and explore such a variety of locales that the book is a splendid adventure in itself.”

– Publishers Weekly

“One of the most stunning books that deals with faraway places has just hit the stands. Minneapolis’ New Rivers Press has just published The House on Via Gombito, a steal of a book of writing by women on their trips around the world and charmingly dedicated to the likes of Martha Gellhorn, Persephone, Mary McCarthy, and, you guessed it, Frances Trollope, Anthony’s poor mom.”

– Dave Wood, Minneapolis Star Tribune


New Rivers Press, 1991


Near Solstice: Prose Poems

“If I only knew where we were going. I’d know how to end.’ writes Madelon Sprengnether in her brilliant new book of prose poems, Near Solstice. Perhaps that is true, but it makes us the luckiest of readers that she doesn’t know; that we are allowed to come along for this journey that is at moments harrowing, at moments joyful. A journey that is always approached in the spirit of an imaginative investigation that leaves the reader continually wanting more. What a deep pleasure this book is!”

– Jim Moore, Underground: New and Selected Poems

Near Solstice: Prose Poems

Holy Cow! Press, 2015

The Angel of Duluth: Prose Poems

The Angel of Duluth is a descent into loss. Sprengnether drives deep into the seasons, from Boston to California to the Great Lakes, arriving at a place where we can see the world’s bruised colors, and our most vulnerable selves, through torn open eyes. A book of subtle beauty.”

– Dorianne Laux

White Pine Press, 2006

The Normal Heart

The Normal Heart…is a collection of poems defining women’s ritualistic and mythological responsibilities. The poems move from the arid Oklahoma landscape to the dense forests of the north. They are like visions seen from a wagon train and the persona is a pioneer exploring the spiritual valleys and deserts….This is an important first book.” 

– Cary Waterman, Great River Review

New Rivers Press, 1981


Mourning Freud

Mourning Freud is an important intervention in discussions of psychoanalysis, literature and feminism. The product of a quarter-century of careful and deep thought by a prominent literary and academic figure, it delivers a set of beautifully written analyses of the relationship between psychoanalysis and social issues, mediated through the motif of mourning. In this book, Madelon Sprengnether offers a delicate and immersive experience of rethinking Freudian and post-Freudian theories of intimacy and loss.”

– Stephen Frosh, Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Mourning Freud Cover

Bloomsbury Press, 2018

The Spectral Mother: Freud, Feminism and Psychoanalysis

“In her impressive book, which deserves wide recognition, Sprengnether…links Freud’s attitudes [toward the mother] to his own ambivalent relationship with his cold and strong-willed mother….His denial of the mother’s crucial importance in early development, Sprengnether argues, is reflected in his case studies, in which mothers become simply supernumeraries in the psychodramas he describes….Sprengnether’s cool and detached case has power because it is based on a very close study of Freud’s texts, and shrewd insight into his actual behavior.”

– Phyllis Grosskurth, New York Review of Books


Cornell University Press, 1990

Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender

(Co-edited by Shirley Nelson Garner, and Madelon Sprengnether.)

“Shirley Nelson Garner and Madelon Sprengnether have long been prominent in the generation of feminist Shakespeareans who challenged their New Critical teachers, and the introduction of their anthology offers an explicit critique of A.C. Bradley and Maynard Mack, whose apparently ‘universal’ liberal humanist readings are said to rest on unrecognized masculinist assumptions.”
– Sara van den Berg, Signs

“Highly recommended.”
– Choice


Indiana University Press, 1996

Revising the Word and the World: Essays in Feminist Literary Criticism

(Co-edited by Vèvè A. Clark, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres, and Madelon Sprengnether.)

“Three powerful interviews with writers of different nationalities, Audre Lorde, Simone de Beauoir, and Carmen Naranjo, introduce topics echoed in the essays that follow: the interplay between women’s writing and feminist theory, the politics of witing, and the roles of race, class, and sexual orientation in artistic production. The theoretical perspectives advanced in this anthology provide models for reading the expressions of women worldwide including oratory and performance as well as literature in the more conventional sense. For scholars, critics, and students, this volume examines some of today’s most prominent areas of concern for feminist literary criticism.”

– Back cover 


Chicago University Press, 1993

The (M)other Tongue: Essays in Feminist Psychoanalytic Interpretation

(Co-edited by Shirley Nelson Garner, Claire Kahane, and Madelon Sprengnether.)

“Feminists have good reasons for being offended by Freud. It is, however, in Freud’s basic conception of gender development and what he was unable to see about feminine sexuality and identity that makes him important to feminists. Using his own theories of the unconscious and what he denies for female development in the oedipal orientation, feminists can redirect analysis from ‘father-based’ to ‘mother-based’ gender development in terms of the importance of the role of the mother, focusing on the conflicts in identity with and separation from her for the male and female. Redirecting the focus becomes a valid basis for refuting the phallic structure of society that Freud’s theories go so far to reinforce.”

– Laurie E. Buchanan, Literature and Psychology


Cornell University Press, 1985