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Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America

Adam R. Nelson

Publication Year: 2010

Vividly revealing the multiple layers on which print has been produced, consumed, regulated, and contested for the purpose of education since the mid-nineteenth century, the historical case studies in Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America deploy a view of education that extends far beyond the confines of traditional classrooms. The nine essays examine “how print educates” in settings as diverse as depression-era work camps, religious training, and broadcast television—all the while revealing the enduring tensions that exist among the controlling interests of print producers and consumers. This volume exposes what counts as education in American society and the many contexts in which education and print intersect.
    Offering perspectives from print culture history, library and information studies, literary studies, labor history, gender history, the history of race and ethnicity, the history of science and technology, religious studies, and the history of childhood and adolescence, Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America pioneers an investigation into the intersection of education and print culture.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vi-vii

Nearly all the chapters in this volume had their origin in papers presented at a conference on Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America held in Madison, Wisconsin, in September 2006. At this conference, in the Pyle Conference Center on the shores of Lake Mendota, a diverse range of scholars came together under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin Center for...

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Introduction: Education, Print Culture, and the Negotiation of Meaning in Modern America

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pp. 3-14

More than two decades ago, historian Lawrence Cremin advanced a famously broad definition of education. The field of education, he argued, encompassed any “deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, and/or sensibilities, as well as any learning that results from that effort, direct or indirect, intended ...

Part 1: Librarians as Educators

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Which Truth, What Fiction? Librarians’ Book Recommendations for Children, 1876–1890

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pp. 15-35

The character is very largely formed by the books read and not read,” proclaimed Kate Gannett Wells, a representative of parents at the1879 American Library Association (ALA) conference, the first such conference to address the question of how public libraries should engage with the reading of children.1 From 1876 to 1890, librarians in the United States debated which...

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A “Colored Authors Collection” to Exhibit to the World and Educate a Race

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pp. 36-58

In 1900 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Daniel Murray, a black American and an assistant librarian since 1881, embarked on a collection development plan to exhibit black authorship to the world and circulate print culture’s educative force among black Americans. To reach black Americans both within and beyond the nation’s common schools...

Part 2: Children’s Experience of Print

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Merry’s Flock: Making Something Out of Educational Reform in the Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 59-80

In 1899, H.R. Denton of Belmont, California, wrote to Street and Smith, publishers of Tip Top Weekly (1896–1912): “[I found Tip Top] a clean, healthy, moral, useful tale, of a true American . . . [written by] a well educated, moral man, whose writing bore that unmistakable polish of refinement so visibly lacking in many ‘stories for boys’ and whose aim obviously was to place before...

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Printed Presence: Twentieth-Century Catholic Print Culture for Youngsters in the United States

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pp. 81-102

Print culture seems an odd rubric for approaching anything having to do with the modern Catholic veneration of Mary and the saints because it was the destruction of images of these figures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that helped usher in the age of print in the first place. Protestant reformers directed Christian attention away from the crowded sensory world of...

Part 3: Workers as Readers, Reading as Work

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Unschooled but Not Uneducated: Print, Public Speaking, and the Networks of Informal Working-Class Education, 1900–1940

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pp. 103-125

In the summer of 1921 two men in a North Dakota migrant-worker camp struck up an unlikely conversation. The first was University of Wisconsin economist Don Lescohier, who was leading a study of labor relations in theGreat Plains wheat harvest for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The second man was an Irish immigrant harvest worker, lumberjack, and occasional...

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“Write as You Fight”: The Pedagogical Agenda of the Working Woman, 1929–1935

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pp. 126-149

In his 1929 essay “Go Left, Young Writers,” in the New Masses, author Mike Gold characterized the emerging proletarian author as distinctly masculine. He was a “wild youth” whose physical prowess would allow him to earn a living as a lumberjack, miner, steel worker, or farm laborer while also sharing his experiences and insights by “writ[ing] in jets.”1 Gold was by no means the...

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“A Gentleman Is No Sissy”: Reading, Work, and Citizenship in the Civilian Conservation Corps

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pp. 150-172

Around 1927, the federal Office of Education, Division of Special Projects and Programs, began creating workbooks for the educational program of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Alongside materials for use in vocational training (including such titles as “Don’t Monkey With Edge Tools”), the Office of Education created a series of six workbooks for literacy training...

Part 4: Print, Education, and the State

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State Regulation of the Textbook Industry

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pp. 173-190

The adoption and regulation of textbooks in America today is largely focused on the control of textbook content. As has been well documented, the relationships between publishers, state boards of education,and outside political pressure groups have combined to turn the production and adoption of textbooks into a process in which every word and image of a...

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Teaching Reading with Television: Constructing Closed Captioning Using the Rhetoric of Literacy

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pp. 191-214

The deaf journal Silent Worker proclaimed in 1910 that “every one who knows the deaf child knows how dear the moving picture is to its heart, and, if properly selected, how full of educational value it is.”1 Through the 1910s and1920s, film—silent, but with printed dialogue intertitles—was a unique and special tool for deaf education, on par with musical education for the blind.2...

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Conclusion: Education, Work, and the Culture of Print—Directions for Future Research

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pp. 215-222

Education and print go hand in hand, as this volume shows in so many fascinating ways. Yet the chapters in this volume only begin to illustrate the vast potential for scholarship on the connections between education and print. Many aspects of the historical sociology of print are not well understood, and more could be done to illuminate the complex interrelations between...


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pp. 223-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780299236137
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299236144

Page Count: 225
Publication Year: 2010