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The Rise and Fall of Early American Magazine Culture

Jared Gardner

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The History of Communication


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xiv

When one thinks of the magazine form today, certain formal characteristics tend to come to mind: photographs and other images, stories gathered around a particular topic...

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Introduction: The Literary Museum and the Unsettling of the Early American Novel

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pp. 1-30

In 1799 the Monthly Magazine published a sketch entitled “Portrait of an Emigrant” that recounts a conversation between the author and a Mrs. K, introduced as a woman who “never reads, not even a newspaper.” The description continues, “She is equally...

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1. American Spectators, Tatlers, and Guardians: Transatlantic Periodical Culture in the Eighteenth C

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pp. 31-68

In its April issue for 1776, the Pennsylvania Magazine, which had been founded the previous year by Scottish-born printer Robert Aitken, published “A Reverie.” Aitken’s anonymous...

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2. The American Magazine in the Early National Period: Publishers, Printers and Editors

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pp. 69-102

The pioneering historian of the American magazine, Frank Luther Mott, described the obstacles facing the earliest magazine as “(1) Indifference, (a) of readers...

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3. The American Magazine in the Early National Period: Readers, Correspondents, and Contributors

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pp. 103-133

One of the central ideals governing the early magazine, as we saw in chapter 2, was that the magazine should create a space whereby readers could themselves participate as writers...

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4. The Early American Magazine in the Nineteenth Century: Brown, Rowson, and Irving

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pp. 134-168

The parallels between Susanna Rowson’s and Charles Brockden Brown’s careers are worth considering. Before 1800, Rowson and Brown had secured their places as the two leading novelists of the early national period; after 1800 they both moved...

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Conclusion: What Happened Next

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pp. 169-176

If the magazine of the early republic allowed for the imagination of a virtual salon, of the ongoing, serial conversations of Jürgen Habermas’s ideal public sphere, several factors...


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pp. 177-198


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pp. 199-204

About the Author, Further Reading, Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 205-311

E-ISBN-13: 9780252093814
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036705

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The History of Communication
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OCLC Number: 842263844
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Rise and Fall of Early American Magazine Culture

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Revolutionary period, 1775-1783 -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- 1783-1850 -- History and criticism
  • Periodicals -- Publishing -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
  • Literature publishing -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
  • American periodicals -- History -- 18th century
  • Authors and publishers -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
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