In the American book trade, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and its inimitable logo featuring a borzoi wolfhound have come to signify the pinnacle of prestigious publishing. Launched in 1915 by a dynamic twenty-two-year-old and his refined fiancée, Blanche Wolf, the firm soon developed a reputation for excellence, quickly overcoming outsider status to forge a unique identity that has endured well past its founders' lifetimes.
Capturing the little-known early history of Knopf, The Art of Prestige explores the origins of the company's rise to success during the Jazz Age, when Alfred and Blanche established themselves as literary impresarios on both sides of the Atlantic. Drawing on key archival documents from all phases of the publishing process, Amy Root Clements reconstructs the turning points and rhetorical exchanges that made Knopf's initial books noteworthy, from the acquisitions process to design, consumer marketing, and bookselling.
Lasting cornerstones of the young firm include alliances with pivotal figures in the world of graphic arts and book production and with European publishers who brought numerous Nobel Prize winners to the Borzoi list during the company's first fifteen years. Other featured luminaries include the American authors Willa Cather, Dashiell Hammett, and Langston Hughes. The Art of Prestige also examines Alfred Knopf's ancestry, up-bringing, and formal education at Columbia, as well as his apprenticeships with Frank Nelson Doubleday and Mitchell Kennerley—factors that would influence his business decisions for years to come.
The result is a portrait of innovative branding that seamlessly merged book production with book promotion in a literary landscape that was ripe for transformation.
Anjali Nerlekar's Bombay Modern is a close reading of Arun Kolatkar's canonical poetic works that relocates the genre of poetry to the center of both Indian literary modernist studies and postcolonial Indian studies. Nerlekar shows how a bilingual, materialist reading of Kolatkar's texts uncovers a uniquely resistant sense of the "local" that defies the monolinguistic cultural pressures of the post-1960 years and straddles the boundaries of English and Marathi writing.
Bombay Modern uncovers an alternative and provincial modernism through poetry, a genre that is marginal to postcolonial studies, and through bilingual scholarship across English and Marathi texts, a methodology that is currently peripheral at best to both modernist studies and postcolonial literary criticism in India. Eschewing any attempt to define an overarching or universal modernism, Bombay Modern delimits its sphere of study to "Bombay" and to the "post-1960" (the sathottari period) in an attempt to examine at close range the specific way in which this poetry redeployed the regional, the national, and the international to create a very tangible yet transient local.
Scholars have long noted the role that college literary anthologies play in the rising and falling reputations of American authors. Canons by Consensus examines this classroom fixture in detail to challenge and correct a number of assumptions about the development of the literary canon throughout the 20th century.
Joseph Csicsila analyzes more than 80 anthologies published since 1919 and traces not only the critical fortunes of individual authors, but also the treatment of entire genres and groupings of authors by race, region, gender, and formal approach. In doing so, he calls into question accusations of deliberate or inadvertent sexism and racism. Selections by anthology editors, Csicsila demonstrates, have always been governed far more by prevailing trends in academic criticism than by personal bias.
Academic anthologies are found to constitute a rich and often overlooked resource for studying American literature, as well as an irrefutable record of the academy’s changing literary tastes throughout the last century.
Readers do not always take into account how books that combine image and text make their meanings. But for the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti, such considerations were central.
Christina Rossetti and Illustration maps the production and reception of Rossetti’s illustrated poetry, devotional prose, and work for children, both in the author’s lifetime and in posthumous twentieth-century reprints.
Lorraine Janzen Kooistra’s reading of Rossetti’s illustrated works reveals for the first time the visual-verbal aesthetic that was fundamental to Rossetti’s poetics. Her exhaustive archival research brings to light new information on how Rossetti’s commitment to illustration and attitudes to copyright and control influenced her transactions with publishers and the books they produced. Janzen Kooistra also tracks the poet’s reception in the twentieth century through a complex web of illustrated books produced for a wide range of audiences.
Analyzing an impressive array of empirical data, Janzen Kooistra shows how Rossetti’s packaging for commodity consumption—by religious presses, publishers of academic editions and children’s picture books, and makers of erotica and collectibles—influenced the reception of her work and her place in literary history.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, publishing houses in London, New York, Paris, Stuttgart, and Berlin produced books in ever greater numbers. But it was not just the advent of mass printing that created the era’s “bookish” culture. According to Andrew Piper, romantic writing and romantic writers played a crucial role in adjusting readers to this increasingly international and overflowing literary environment. Learning how to use and to want books occurred through more than the technological, commercial, or legal conditions that made the growing proliferation of books possible; the making of such bibliographic fantasies was importantly a product of the symbolic operations contained within books as well.
Examining novels, critical editions, gift books, translations, and illustrated books, as well as the communities who made them, Dreaming in Books tells a wide-ranging story of the book’s identity at the turn of the nineteenth century. In so doing, it shows how many of the most pressing modern communicative concerns are not unique to the digital age but emerged with a particular sense of urgency during the bookish upheavals of the romantic era. In revisiting the book’s rise through the prism of romantic literature, Piper aims to revise our assumptions about romanticism, the medium of the printed book, and, ultimately, the future of the book in our so-called digital age.
Offering the everyday tasks of literary editors as inspired sources of postwar literary history
Michel Foucault famously theorized “the author function” in his 1969 essay “What Is an Author?” proposing that the existence of the author limits textual meaning. Abram Foley shows a similar critique at work in the labor of several postwar editors who sought to question and undo the corporate “editorial/industrial complex.” Marking an end to the powerful trope of the editor as gatekeeper, The Editor Function demonstrates how practices of editing and publishing constitute their own kinds of thought, calling on us to rethink what we read and how.
The Editor Function follows avant-garde American literary editors and the publishing practices they developed to compete against the postwar corporate consolidation of the publishing industry. Foley studies editing and publishing through archival readings and small press and literary journal publishing lists as unique sites for literary inquiry. Pairing histories and analyses of well- and lesser-known figures and publishing formations, from Cid Corman’s Origin and Nathaniel Mackey’s Hambone to Dalkey Archive Press and Semiotext(e), Foley offers the first in-depth engagement with major publishing initiatives in the postwar United States.
The Editor Function proposes that from the seemingly mundane tasks of these editors—routine editorial correspondence, line editing, list formation—emerge visions of new, better worlds and new textual and conceptual spaces for collective action.
Jennifer Phegley presents an examination of four mid-Victorian magazines that middle-class women read widely. Educating the Proper Woman Reader reevaluates prevailing assumptions about the vexed relationship between nineteenth-century women readers and literary critics.
While many scholars have explored the ways nineteenth-century critics expressed their anxiety about the dangers of women’s unregulated and implicitly uncritical reading practices, which were believed to threaten the sanctity of the home and the cultural status of the nation, Phegley argues that family literary magazines revolutionized the position of women as consumers of print by characterizing them as educated readers and able critics. Her analysis of images of influential women readers (in Harper’s), intellectual women readers (in The Cornhill), independent women readers (in Belgravia), and proto-feminist women readers/critics (in Victoria) indicates that women played a significant role in determining the boundaries of literary culture within these magazines. She argues that these publications supported women’s reading choices, inviting them to define literary culture rather than to consume it passively.
Not only does this book revise our understanding of nineteenth-century attitudes toward women readers, but it also takes a fresh look at the transatlantic context of literary production. Further, Phegley demonstrates the role these publications played in improving cultural literacy among women of the middle classes as well as the interplay between fiction and essays of the time by writers such as Mary Braddon, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, G. H. Lewes, Harriet Martineau, Margaret Oliphant, George Sala, William Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope.
This case study in cultural mythmaking shows how antebellum Alabama created itself out of its own printed texts, from treatises on law and history to satire, poetry, and domestic novels.
Early 19th-century Alabama was a society still in the making. Now Philip Beidler tells how the first books written and published in the state influenced the formation of Alabama's literary and political culture. As Beidler shows, virtually overnight early Alabama found itself in possession of the social, political, and economic conditions required to jump start a traditional literary culture in the old Anglo-European model: property-based class relationships, large concentrations of personal wealth, and professional and merchant classes of similar social, political, educational, and literary views.
Beidler examines the work of well-known writers such as humorist Johnson J. Hooper and novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, and takes on other classic pieces like Albert J. Pickett's History of Alabama and Alexander Beaufort Meek's epic poem The Red Eagle. Beidler also considers lesser-known works like Lewis B. Sewall's verse satire The Adventures of Sir John Falstaff the II, Henry Hitchcock's groundbreaking legal volume Alabama Justice of the Peace, and Octavia Walton Levert's Souvenirs of Travel. Most of these works were written by and for society's elite, and although many celebrate the establishment of an ordered way of life, they also preserve the biases of authors who refused to write about slavery yet continually focused on the extermination of Native Americans.
First Books returns us to the world of early Alabama that these texts not only recorded but helped create. Written with flair and a strong individual voice, it will appeal not only to scholars of Alabama history and literature but also to anyone interested in the antebellum South.
What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. Herman Melville wrote these words as he struggled to survive as a failing novelist. Between 1853 and 1856, he did write "the other way," working exclusively for magazines. He earned more money from his stories than from the combined sales of his most well known novels, Moby-Dick, Pierre, and The Confidence-Man.
In Herman Melville Graham Thompson examines the author's magazine work in its original publication context, including stories that became classics, such as "Bartelby, the Scrivener" and "Benito Cereno," alongside lesser-known work. Using a concept he calls "embedded authorship," Thompson explores what it meant to be a magazine writer in the 1850s and discovers a new Melville enmeshed with forgotten materials, editors, writers, and literary traditions. He reveals how Melville responded to the practical demands of magazine writing with dazzling displays of innovation that reinvented magazine traditions and helped create the modern short story.
Just as mass-market magazines and cheap books have played important roles in the creation of an American identity, those skilled craftsmen (and women) whose careers are the subjects of Ronald Weber’s narrative profoundly influenced the outlook and strategies of the high-culture writers who are generally the focus of literary studies.
Hired Pens, a history of the writing profession in the United States, recognizes the place of independent writers who wrote for their livelihood from the 1830s and 1840s, with the first appearance of a broad-based print culture, to the 1960s.
Many realist authors began on this American Grub Street. Jack London turned out hackwork for any paying market he could find, while Scott Fitzgerald’s stories in slick magazines in the 1920s and early ’30s established his name as a writer.
From Edgar Allen Poe’s earliest forays into writing for pay to Sylvia Plath’s attempts to produce fiction for mass-circulation journals, Hired Pens documents without agenda the evolution of professional writing in all its permutations—travel accounts, sport, popular biography and history, genre and series fiction—and the culture it fed.
Most readers think of a written work as producing its meaning through the words it contains. But what is the significance of the detailed and beautiful illuminations on a medieval manuscript? Of the deliberately chosen typefaces in a book of poems by Yeats? Of the design and layout of text in an electronic format? How does the material form of a work shape its understanding in a particular historical moment, in a particular culture?
The material features of texts as physical artifacts--their "bibliographic codes" --have over the last decade excited increasing interest in a variety of disciplines. The Iconic Page in Manuscript, Print, and Digital Culture gathers essays by an extraordinarily distinguished group of scholars to offer the most comprehensive examination of these issues yet, drawing on examples from literature, history, the fine arts, and philosophy.
Fittingly, the volume contains over two dozen illustrations that display the iconic features of the works analyzed--from Alfred the Great's Boethius through medieval manuscripts to the philosophy of C. S. Peirce and the dustjackets on works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Styron.
The Iconic Page in Manuscript, Print, and Digital Culture will be groundbreaking reading for scholars in a wide range of fields.
George Bornstein is C. A. Patrides Professor of English, University of Michigan. Theresa Tinkle is Associate Professor of English, University of Michigan.
Multilingual literature defies simple translation. Beginning with this insight, Brian Lennon examines the resistance multilingual literature offers to book publication itself. In readings of G. V. Desani’s All about H. Hatterr, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Christine Brooke-Rose’s Between, Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation, Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Mutterzunge, and Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, among other works, Lennon shows how nationalized literary print culture inverts the values of a transnational age, reminding us that works of literature are, above all, objects in motion.
Looking closely at the limit of both multilingual literary expression and the literary journalism, criticism, and scholarship that comments on multilingual work, In Babel’s Shadow presents a critical reflection on the fate of literature in a world gripped by the crisis of globalization.
Kurt Wolff (1887-1963) was a singular presence in the literary world of the twentieth century, a cultural force shaping modern literature itself and pioneering significant changes in publishing. During an intense, active career that spanned two continents and five decades, Wolff launched seven publishing houses and nurtured an extraordinary array of writers, among them Franz Kafka, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Boris Pasternak, Günter Grass, Robert Musil, Paul Valéry, Julian Green, Lampedusa, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
By producing literature in nontraditional forms—books made of cardboard trash, posters in subway stations, miniature shopping bags, digital publications, and even children's toys—Chileans have made and circulated literary objects in defiance of state censorship and independent of capitalist definitions of value. In The Labor of Literature Jane D. Griffin studies amateur and noncommercial forms of literary production in Chile that originated in response to authoritarian state politics and have gained momentum throughout the postdictatorship period. She argues that such forms advance a model of cultural democracy that differs from and sometimes contradicts the model endorsed by the state and the market.
By examining alternative literary publications, Griffin recasts the seventeen-year Pinochet dictatorship as a time of editorial experimentation despite widespread cultural oppression and shows how grassroots cultural activism has challenged government-approved corporate publishing models throughout the postdictatorship period. Griffin's work also points to the growing importance of autogestión, or do-it-yourself cultural production, where individuals combine artisanal forms with new technologies to make and share creative work on a global scale.
Available for the first time in paperback, this book is a succinct distillation of the work and thought of William Charvat, a pioneer in the study of the history of the American book. This burgeoning field of inquiry investigates the social and cultural context of the act of literary creation by relating it to the modes of its production and distribution. This new edition of Literary Publishing in America contains an afterword by Michael Winship that discusses scholarship in the field since publication of Charvat's groundbreaking work.
Emphasizing how modes of book production, promotion, and consumption shape ideas of literary value, Edward Mack examines the role of Japan’s publishing industry in defining modern Japanese literature. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, as cultural and economic power consolidated in Tokyo, the city’s literary and publishing elites came to dominate the dissemination and preservation of Japanese literature. As Mack explains, they conferred cultural value on particular works by creating prizes and multivolume anthologies that signaled literary merit. One such anthology, the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature (published between 1926 and 1931), provided many readers with their first experience of selected texts designated as modern Japanese literature. The low price of one yen per volume allowed the series to reach hundreds of thousands of readers. An early prize for modern Japanese literature, the annual Akutagawa Prize, first awarded in 1935, became the country’s highest-profile literary award. Mack chronicles the history of book production and consumption in Japan, showing how advances in technology, the expansion of a market for literary commodities, and the development of an extensive reading community enabled phenomena such as the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature and the Akutagawa Prize to manufacture the very concept of modern Japanese literature.
Rarely have genres of literary expression been looked upon or read as commodities within a market system; we tend to think of our literature as "pure," untainted by any interaction with the world of commerce. Critical accounts of modernism are frequently theorized across the divide between the project itself and the larger marketplace, the world of consumption. Marketing Modernisms calls into question this curious separation and examines the material, intellectual, and ideological practices that comprise the notion of "marketing." Marketing Modernisms is concerned with Anglo-American modernists and their potential readers in both the popular audience and the academy. Examining the forms of promotion employed by book publishing houses, in the editorial offices of literary magazines, and in the minds of modern writers, the essays bring to the fore little-known connections between writers such as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Langston Hughes, and the commercial marketplace they engaged. The book's provocative themes include the strategies that modernists and their publishers employed to market their work, to fashion themselves as artists or celebrities, and to bridge the gap between an avant-garde elite and the popular reader. Other essays explore the difficulties confronted by women, African American, and gay and lesbian writers in gaining literary acceptance and achieving commercial representation while maintaining the gendered, racial, and sexual aspects of their lives.
In this sophisticated application of modern Marxist thought, N. N. Feltes demonstrates the determining influence of nineteenth-century publishing practices on the Victorian novel. His dialectical analysis leads to a comprehensive explanation of the development of capitalist novel production into the twentieth century.
Feltes focuses on five English novels: Dickens's Pickwick Papers, Thackeray's Henry Esmond, Eliot's Middlemarch, Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Forster's Howards End. Published at approximately twenty year intervals between 1836 and 1920, they each represent a different first-publication format: part-issue, three-volume, bimonthly, magazine-serial, and single-volume. Drawing on publishing, economic, and literary history, Feltes offers a broad, synthetic explanation of the relationship between the production and format of each novel, and the way in which these determine, in the last instance, the ideology of the text.
Modes of Production in Victorian Novels provides a Marxist structuralist analysis of historical events and practices described elsewhere only empirically, and traces their relationship to literary texts which have been analyzed only idealistically, thus setting these familiar works firmly and perhaps permanently into a framework of historic materialism.
A new perspective on a book that transformed Victorian illustration into a stand-alone art.
Edward Moxon’s 1857 edition of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poems dramatically redefined the relationship between images and words in print. Cooke’s study, the first book to address the subject in over 120 years, presents a sweeping analysis of the illustrators and the complex and challenging ways in which they interpreted Tennyson’s poetry. This book considers the volume’s historical context, examining in detail the roles of publisher, engravers, and binding designer, as well as the material difficulties of printing its fine illustrations, which recreate the effects of painting. Arranged thematically and reproducing all the original images, the chapters present a detailed reappraisal of the original volume and the distinctive culture that produced it.
A writer who simply panders to the public is seldom taken for an artist. An artist who cannot publish is seldom granted a career. This dilemma, the subject of Muse in the Machine, has been home to many authors of serious fiction since the eighteenth century. But it is especially pointed for American writers, since the United States never fostered a sustainable elite culture readership. Its writers have always been reliant on mass publicity’s machinery to survive; and when they depict that machinery, they also depict that reliance and the desire to transcend its banal formulas. This book looks at artist tales from Henry James to Don DeLillo’s Mao II, but also engages more indirect expressions of this tension between Romantic individualism and commercial requirements in Nathanael West, Vladimir Nabokov, and Thomas Pynchon. It covers the twentieth century, but its focus is not another rehearsal of “media theory” or word versus image. Rather, it aims to show how various novels “about” publicity culture also enact their authors’ own dramas: how they both need and try to critique the “machine.” In subject as well as approach, this study questions the current impasse between those who say that the aesthetic aspires to its own pure realm, and those who insist that it partakes of everyday practicality. Both sides are right; this book examines the consequences of that reality.
In the early 1800s, books were largely unillustrated. By the 1830s and 1840s, however, innovations in wood- and steel-engraving techniques changed how Victorian readers consumed and conceptualized fiction. A new type of novel was born, often published in serial form, one that melded text and image as partners in meaning-making.
These illustrated serial novels offered Victorians a reading experience that was both verbal and visual, based on complex effects of flash-forward and flashback as the placement of illustrations revealed or recalled significant story elements. Victorians’ experience of what are now canonical novels thus differed markedly from that of modern readers, who are accustomed to reading single volumes with minimal illustration. Even if modern editions do reproduce illustrations, these do not appear as originally laid out. Modern readers therefore lose a crucial aspect of how Victorians understood plot—as a story delivered in both words and images, over time, and with illustrations playing a key role.
In The Plot Thickens, Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge uncover this overlooked narrative role of illustrations within Victorian serial fiction. They reveal the intricacy and richness of the form and push us to reconsider our notions of illustration, visual culture, narration, and reading practices in nineteenth-century Britain.
Proofs of Genius: Collected Editions from the American Revolution to the Digital Age is the first extensive study of the collected edition as an editorial genre within American literary history. Unlike editions of an author’s “selected works” or thematic anthologies, which clearly indicate the presence of non-authorial editorial intervention, collected editions have typically been arranged to imply an unmediated documentary completeness. By design, the collected edition obscures its own role in shaping the cultural reception of the author.
In Proofs of Genius, Amanda Gailey argues that decisions to re-edit major authorial corpora are acts of canon-formation in miniature that indicate more foundational shifts in the way a culture views its literature and itself. By combining a theoretically-informed approach with a broad historical view of collected editions from the late eighteenth century to the present (including the rise of digital editions), Gailey fills a gap in the textual scholarship of the editing history of major figures like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and of the American literary canon itself.
Between the 1890s and the 1920s, mass consumer culture and modernism grew up together, by most accounts as mutual antagonists. This provocative work of cultural history tells a different story. By delving deeply into the publishing and promotional practices of the modernists in Britain and America, however, Mark Morrisson reveals that their engagements with the commercial mass market were in fact extensive and diverse.
The phenomenal successes of new advertising agencies and mass market publishers did elicit what Morrisson calls a "crisis of publicity" for some modernists and for many concerned citizens in both countries. But, as Morrisson demonstrates, the vast influence of these industries on consumers also had a profound and largely overlooked effect upon many modernist authors, artists, and others. By exploring the publicity and audience reception of several of the most important modernist magazines of the period, The Public Face of Modernism shows how modernists, far from lamenting the destruction of meaningful art and public culture by the new mass market, actually displayed optimism about the power of mass-market technologies and strategies to transform and rejuvenate contemporary culture—and, above all, to restore a public function to art.
This reconstruction of the "public face of modernism" offers surprising new perceptions about the class, gender, racial, and even generational tensions within the public culture of the early part of the century, and provides a rare insight into the actual audiences for modernist magazines of the period. Moreover, in new readings of works by James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Wyndham Lewis, Ford Madox Ford, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and many others, Morrisson shows that these contexts also had an impact on the techniques and concerns of the literature itself.
From the white editorial authentication of slave narratives, to the cultural hybridity of the Harlem Renaissance, to the overtly independent publications of the Black Arts Movement, to the commercial power of Oprah's Book Club, African American textuality has been uniquely shaped by the contests for cultural power inherent in literary production and distribution. Always haunted by the commodification of blackness, African American literary production interfaces with the processes of publication and distribution in particularly charged ways. An energetic exploration of the struggles and complexities of African American print culture, this collection ranges across the history of African American literature, and the authors have much to contribute on such issues as editorial and archival preservation, canonization, and the "packaging" and repackaging of black-authored texts. Publishing Blackness aims to project African Americanist scholarship into the discourse of textual scholarship, provoking further work in a vital area of literary study.
Publishing the Family
June Howard Duke University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3545.H96H69 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
In Publishing the Family June Howard turns a study of the collaborative novel The Whole Family into a lens through which to examine American literature and culture at the beginning of the twentieth century. Striving to do equal justice to historical particulars and the broad horizons of social change, Howard reconsiders such categories of analysis as authorship, genre, and periodization. In the process, she offers a new method for cultural studies and American studies at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Publishing the Family describes the sources and controversial outcome of a fascinating literary experiment. Howard embeds the story of The Whole Family in the story of Harper & Brothers’ powerful and pervasive presence in American cultural life, treating the publisher, in effect, as an author. Each chapter of Publishing the Family casts light on some aspect of life in the United States at a moment that arguably marked the beginning of our own era. Howard revises common views of the turn-of-the-century literary marketplace and discusses the perceived crisis in the family as well as the popular and expert discourses that emerged to remedy it. She also demonstrates how creative women like Bazar editor Elizabeth Jordan blended their own ideas about the “New Woman” with traditional values. Howard places these analyses in the framework of far-reaching historical changes, such as the transformation of the public meaning of emotion and “sentimentality.” Taken together, the chapters in Publishing the Family show how profoundly the modern mapping of social life relies on boundaries between family and business, culture and commerce, which The Whole Family and Publishing the Family constantly unsettle. Publishing the Family will interest students and scholars of American history, literature, and culture, as well as those studying gender, sexuality, and the family.
In this ground-breaking book, Beth Holmgren examines how—in turn-of-the-century Russia and its subject, the Kingdom of Poland—capitalism affected the elitist culture of literature, publishing, book markets, and readership. Rewriting Capitalism considers how both “serious” writers and producers of consumer culture coped with the drastic power shift from “serious” literature to market-driven literature.
Countering assumptions about early American print culture and challenging our scholarly fixation on the novel, Jared Gardner reimagines the early American magazine as a rich literary culture that operated as a model for nation-building by celebrating editorship over authorship and serving as a virtual salon in which citizens were invited to share their different perspectives. The Rise and Fall of Early American Magazine Culture reexamines early magazines and their reach to show how magazine culture was multivocal and presented a porous distinction between author and reader, as opposed to novel culture, which imposed a one-sided authorial voice and restricted the agency of the reader.
The American nineteenth century witnessed a media explosion unprecedented in human history. New communications technologies seemed to be everywhere, offering opportunities and threats that seem powerfully familiar to us as we experience today’s digital revolution. Walt Whitman’s poetry reveled in the potentials of his time: “See, the many-cylinder’d steam printing-press,” he wrote, “See, the electric telegraph, stretching across the Continent, from the Western Sea to Manhattan.”
Still, as the budding poet learned, books neither sell themselves nor move themselves: without an efficient set of connections to get books to readers, the democratic media-saturated future Whitman imagined would have remained warehoused. Whitman’s works sometimes ran through the “many-cylinder’d steam printing press” and were carried in bulk on “the strong and quick locomotive.” Yet during his career, his publications did not follow a progressive path toward mass production and distribution. Even at the end of his life, in the 1890s as his fame was growing, the poet was selling copies of his latest works by hand to visitors at his small house in Camden, New Jersey. Mass media and centralization were only one part of the rich media world that Whitman embraced.
Whitman’s Drift asks how the many options for distributing books and newspapers shaped the way writers wrote and readers read. Writers like Whitman spoke to the imagination inspired by media transformations by calling attention to connectedness, to how literature not only moves us emotionally, but moves around in the world among people and places. Studying that literature and how it circulated can help us understand not just how to read Whitman’s works and times, but how to understand what is happening to our imaginations now, in the midst of the twenty-first century media explosion.
Joseph A. Dane examines the history of the books we now know as "Chaucer’s"—a history that includes printers and publishers, editors, antiquarians, librarians, and book collectors. The Chaucer at issue here is not a medieval poet, securely bound within his fourteenth-century context, but rather the product of the often chaotic history of the physical books that have been produced and marketed in his name.
This history involves a series of myths about Chaucer—a reformist Chaucer, a realist Chaucer, a political and critical Chaucer who seems oddly like us. It also involves more self-reflective critical myths—the conveniently coherent editorial tradition that leads progressively to modern editions of Chaucer. Dane argues that the material background of these myths remains irreducibly and often amusingly recalcitrant. The great Chaucer monuments—his editions, his book, and even his tomb—defy our efforts to stabilize them with our critical descriptions and transcriptions.
Part I concentrates on the production and reception of the Chaucerian book from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, a period dominated by the folio "Complete Works" and a period that culminates in what Chaucerians have consistently (if uncritically) defined as the worst Chaucer edition of 1721. Part II considers the increasing ambivalence of modern editors and critics in relation to the book of Chaucer, and the various attempts of modern scholars to provide alternative sources of authority.
A compilation of essays focusing on the significance of material culture to Cather’s work and Cather scholarship.
Willa Cather and Material Culture is a collection of 11 new essays that tap into a recent and resurgent interest among Cather scholars in addressing her work and her career through the lens of cultural studies. One of the volume's primary purposes is to demonstrate the extent to which Cather did participate in her culture and to correct the commonplace view of her as a literary connoisseur set apart from her times.
The contributors explore both the objects among which Cather lived and the objects that appear in her writings, as well as the commercial constraints of the publishing industry in which her art was made and marketed. Essays address her relationship to quilts both personally and as symbols in her work; her contributions to domestic magazines such as Home Monthly and Woman's Home Companion; the problematic nature of Hollywood productions of her work; and her efforts and successes as a businesswoman. By establishing the centrality of material matters to her writing, these essays contribute to the reclaiming of Cather as a modernist and highlight the significance of material culture, in general, to the study of American literature.
The turn of the twentieth century was a period of experimental possibility for U.S. ethnic literature as a number of writers of color began to collaborate with the predominantly white publishing trade to make their work commercially available. In this new book, Lucas A. Dietrich analyzes publishers' and writers' archives to show how authors—including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Charles W. Chesnutt, Finley Peter Dunne, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Sui Sin Far—drew readers into their texts by subverting existing stereotypes and adapting styles of literary regionalism and dialect writing.
Writing across the Color Line details how this body of literature was selected for publication, edited, manufactured, advertised, and distributed, even as it faced hostile criticism and frequent misinterpretation by white readers. Shedding light on the transformative potential of multiethnic literature and the tenacity of racist attitudes that dominated the literary marketplace, Dietrich proves that Native American, African American, Latinx, Asian American, and Irish American writers of the period relied on self-caricature, tricksterism, and the careful control of authorial personae to influence white audiences.
Beginning in the 1980s, a number of popular and influential anthologies organized around themes of shared identity—Nice Jewish Girls, This Bridge Called My Back, Home Girls, and others—have brought together women’s fiction and poetry with journal entries, personal narratives, and transcribed conversations. These groundbreaking multi-genre anthologies, Cynthia G. Franklin demonstrates, have played a crucial role in shaping current literary studies, in defining cultural and political movements, and in building connections between academic and other communities.
Exploring intersections and alliances across the often competing categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality, Writing Women’s Communities contributes to current public debates about multiculturalism, feminism, identity politics, the academy as a site of political activism, and the relationship between literature and politics.