Welcome to our critical casebook on Lorrie Moore’s novel A Gate at the Stairs. This casebook was crafted by Millikin University students enrolled in Dr. Tony R. Magagna’s English 202: Writing About Literature course during the Fall 2014 semester. Although A Gate at the Stairs has garnered critical acclaim since its publication in 2009, there has as yet been little published literary scholarship dedicated to the novel. Thus, the students whose work is collected here have put together this casebook as an effort both to build the scholarly conversation on the novel, and to showcase their own original critical contributions to the field of literary scholarship. By exploring this website, we hope that you will learn more about this incredible novel and the varied perspectives and themes that it confronts.

In addition to the in-depth academic analyses presented here, you will also find contextual information that we feel is useful to understanding and appreciating Moore’s work. This includes: biographical information on Moore herself; an overview of historical context on the immediate aftermath of 9/11; an “annotated playlist” of the artists and songs mentioned throughout A Gate at the Stairs; and a collection of general annotations that help to clarify cultural and regional references made throughout the book. In addition, you will find here some links to useful resources elsewhere on the Internet, including interviews, reviews, and media clips.

All of the information and scholarship presented in this casebook has been selected and generated by the English 202 students themselves. A Gate at the Stairs: A Critical Casebook joins several other casebooks produced by students in Millikin University’s English department. In 2013, Dr. Magagna’s students explored Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, while his Fall 2011 students took on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. Additionally, in Fall 2010 the course focused on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis, which followed Fall 2009’s study of Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Other courses at Millikin have examined Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and Helena Maria Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus.