July 29, 1970, Bennington, Vermont, United States
Shirley Jackson (m. 1940–1965)
Syracuse University (1936–1940)
The armed vision, The tangled bank
Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, US & Canada
People also search for
Shirley Jackson, William Troy
Stanley Edgar Hyman (1919–1970) was a literary critic who wrote primarily about critical methods: the distinct strategies critics use in approaching literary texts. Although more likely to be remembered today as the husband of writer Shirley Jackson (he edited a posthumous collection of her work), Hyman was influential in the development of literary theory during the 1940s and 1950s. Equally skeptical of every major critical methodology of his time, he worked out an early instance of a critical theory, exploring ways that critics can be foiled by their own methods. "Each critic," Hyman wrote in The Armed Vision, "tends to have a master metaphor or series of metaphors in terms of which he sees the critical function ... this metaphor then shapes, informs, and sometimes limits his work." Hyman saw it as his own critical task to point out these overriding themes by which, tacitly, other critics organized their work and their thinking.
Hyman was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Syracuse University in 1940, where he met Jackson. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for much of his life, and although he did not possess a graduate degree, taught at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. From 1961 to 1965, Hyman was the literary critic of The New Leader. After Jackson's death in 1965, he married Phoebe Pettingell, who later edited a posthumous volume of his work. Pettingell had been a student at Bennington College, and had been classmates with his daughter Joanne. Three months after Hyman's death, she gave birth to his last child, a son named Malcolm (1970-2009), who became a research fellow in the Department of Classics at Harvard University and later at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.
Hyman was also a noted jazz critic, who wrote hundreds of essays on the subject in addition to his career as a writer and teacher.