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Making Feminist Media

Third-Wave Magazines on the Cusp of the Digital Age

Elizabeth Groeneveld

Making Feminist Media provides new ways of thinking about the vibrant media and craft cultures generated by Riot Grrrl and feminism’s third wave. It focuses on a cluster of feminist publications—including BUST, Bitch, HUES, Venus Zine, and Rockrgrl—that began as zines in the 1990s. By tracking their successes and failures, this book provides insight into the politics of feminism’s recent past.

Making Feminist Media brings together interviews with magazine editors, research from zine archives, and analysis of the advertising, articles, editorials, and letters to the editor found in third-wave feminist magazines. It situates these publications within the long history of feminist publishing in the United States and Canada and argues that third-wave feminist magazines share important continuities and breaks with their historical forerunners. These publishing lineages challenge the still-dominant—and hotly contested— wave metaphor categorization of feminist culture.

The stories, struggles, and strategies of these magazines not only represent contemporary feminism, they create and shape feminist cultures. The publications provide a feminist counter-public sphere in which the competing interests of editors, writers, readers, and advertisers can interact. Making Feminist Media argues that reading feminist magazines is far more than the consumption of information or entertainment: it is a profoundly intimate and political activity that shapes how readers understand themselves and each other as feminist thinkers.

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Mass Authorship and the Rise of Self-Publishing

Timothy Laquintano

In the last two decades, digital technologies have made it possible for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to rapidly and inexpensively self-publish a book. Once a stigmatized niche activity, self-publishing has grown explosively. Hobbyists and professionals alike have produced millions of books, circulating them through e-readers and the web. What does this new flood of books mean for publishing, authors, and readers? Some lament the rise of self-publishing because it tramples the gates and gatekeepers who once reserved publication for those who met professional standards. Others tout authors’ new freedom from the narrow-minded exclusivity of traditional publishing. Critics mourn the death of the author; fans celebrate the democratization of authorship.

Drawing on eight years of research and interviews with more than eighty self-published writers, Mass Authorship avoids the polemics, instead showing how writers are actually thinking about and dealing with this brave new world. Timothy Laquintano compares the experiences of self-publishing authors in three distinct genres—poker strategy guides, memoirs, and romance novels—as well as those of writers whose self-published works hit major bestseller lists. He finds that the significance of self-publishing and the challenge it presents to traditional publishing depend on the aims of authors, the desires of their readers, the affordances of their platforms, and the business plans of the companies that provide those platforms.

In drawing a nuanced portrait of self-publishing authors today, Laquintano answers some of the most pressing questions about what it means to publish in the twenty-first century: How do writers establish credibility in an environment with no editors to judge quality? How do authors police their copyrights online without recourse to the law? How do they experience Amazon as a publishing platform? And how do they find an audience when, it sometimes seems, there are more writers than readers? 
 

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My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White

Andrew Furman

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, roughly half of Furman’s high school basketball teammates lived in the largely Anglo, and increasingly Jewish, San Fernando Valley, while the other half were African Americans bused in from the inner city. Los Angeles was embroiled in efforts to desegregate its public school district, one of the largest and most segregated in the country. Tensions came to a head as the state implemented its forced busing plan, a radical desegregation program that was hotly contested among Los Angeles residents—particularly among Valley residents—and at all levels of the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White, the high school’s basketball team serves as the entry point for a trenchant exploration of the judicial, legislative, and neighborhood battles over school desegregation that gripped the city in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and that continue to plague our "post-racial" nation.

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On the Commerce of Thinking

Of Books and Bookstores

Jean-Luc Nancy

Jean-Luc Nancy's On the Commerce of Thinking concerns the particular communication of thoughts that takes place by means of the business of writing, producing, and selling books. His reflection is born out of his relation to the bookstore, in the first place his neighborhood one, but beyond that any such perfumery, rotisserie, patisserie,as he calls them, dispensaries of scents and flavors through which something like a fragrance or bouquet of the book is divined, presumed, sensed.On the Commerce of Thinking is thus not only something of a semiology of the specific cultural practice that begins with the unique character of the writer's voice and culminates in a customer crossing the bookstore threshold, package under arm, on the way home to a comfortable chair, but also an understated yet persuasive plea in favor of an endangered species. In evoking the peddler who, in times past, plied the streets with books and pamphlets literally hanging off him, Nancy emphasizes the sensuality of this commerce and reminds us that this form of consumerism is like no other, one that ends in an experience-reading-that is the beginning of a limitless dispersion, metamorphosis, and dissemination of ideas. Making, selling, and buying books has all the elements of the exchange economy that Marx analyzed--from commodification to fetishism--yet each book retains throughout an absolute and unique value, that of its subject. With reading, it gets repeatedly reprinted and rebound. For Nancy, the book thus functions only if it remains at the same time open and shut, like some Moebius strip. Closed, it represents the Idea and takes its place in a canon by means of its monumental form and the title and author's name displayed on its spine. But it also opens itself to us, indeed consents to being shaken to its core, in being read each time anew.

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Oriana Fallaci

The Woman and the Myth

Santo L. Aricò 

Based on his own extensive personal interviews with the writer, Santo L. Aricò provides the definitive biography of Oriana Fallaci, a popular and flamboyant Italian journalist, war correspondent, and novelist who, in the public imagination, approaches mythical proportions and who, with every work she produces, creates and re-creates that myth.

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A Path Through Hard Grass

A Journalist's Memories of Exile and Apartheid

A child of a Jewish family fleeing Nazi-Germany and settling in apartheid South Africa in the 1930s, Ruth Weissí journalistic career starts in Johannesburg of the 1950s. In 1968 banned from her home country, and then also from Rhodesia for her critical investigative journalism, she starts reporting from Lusaka, London and Cologne on virtually all issues which affect the newly independent African countries. Peasants and national leaders in southern Africa ñ Ruth Weiss met them all, travelling through Africa at a time when it was neither usual for a woman to do so, nor to report for economic media as she did. Her writing gained her the friendship of diverse and interesting people. In this book she offers us glimpses into some of her many long-nurtured friendships, with Kenneth Kaunda or Nadine Gordimer and many others. Her life-long quest for tolerance and understanding of different cultures shines through the many personalized stories which her astute eye and pen reveals in this book. As she put it, one never sheds the cultural vest donned at birth, but this should never stop one learning about and accepting other cultures.

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Pauline Frederick Reporting

A Pioneering Broadcaster Covers the Cold War

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The Pen Makes a Good Sword

John Forsyth of the Mobile Register

Written by Lonnie A. Burnett

This book is a biography of Alabama native John Forsyth Jr. and documents his career as a southern newspaper editor during the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. From 1837 to 1877 Forsyth wrote about many of the most important events of the 19th century. He used his various positions as an editor, Civil War field correspondent, and Reconstruction critic at the MobileRegister to advocate on behalf of both the South and the Democratic Party.
 
In addition, Forsyth played an active role in the events taking place around him through his political career, as United States Minister to Mexico, state legislator, Confederate Peace Commissioner to the Lincoln administration, staff officer to Braxton Bragg, and twice mayor of the city of Mobile.

 

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The Pilgrim and the Bee

Reading Rituals and Book Culture in Early New England

By Matthew P. Brown

We conventionally understand the book as a vessel for words, a place where the reader goes to have a private experience with written language. But readers' relationships with books are much more complex. In The Pilgrim and the Bee, Matthew P. Brown examines book culture and the rituals of reading in early New England, ranging across almanacs, commonplace books, wonder tales, funeral elegies, sermon notes, conversion relations, and missionary tracts. What emerges is a new understanding of the book at once as a material good, existing within the economies of buying, selling, giving, and receiving; as an object of reverence and a medium for the performance of reading; and as an organizational system for word, sound, and image.

The product of extensive archival research, The Pilgrim and the Bee brings together the disciplines of book studies and performance theory to reconsider the literary history of early America. Brown focuses on the reader's body, carefully studying reading practices during the first three generations of English settlement, with particular emphasis on the way such practices operated in the social rituals of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Understanding Puritanism as a style of piety predicated on access to texts, he describes a canon of texts (devotional "steady sellers") that, with the Bible, served as conduct literature for pious readers. These devotional manuals were reprinted and read frequently and helped to shape the social identities of gender, race, class, faith, and age. To Brown, seventeenth-century devotional readers are both pilgrims, treating texts as continuous narratives of redemptive journeying, and bees, treating texts as flowers or hives, as spatial objects where information is extracted and deposited discontinuously.

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The Portrait and the Book

Illustration and Literary Culture in Early America

Megan Walsh

In the nineteenth century, new image-making methods like steel engraving and lithography caused a surge in the publication of illustrated books in the United States. Yet even before the widespread use of these technologies, Americans had already established the illustrated book format as central to the nation’s literary culture. In The Portrait and the Book, Megan Walsh argues that colonial-era author portraits, such as Benjamin Franklin’s and Phillis Wheatley’s frontispieces; political portraits that circulated during the debates over the Constitution, such as those of the Founders by Charles Willson Peale; and portraits of beloved fictional characters in the 1790s, such as those of Samuel Richardson’s heroine Pamela, shaped readers’ conceptions of American literature.

Illustrations played a key role in American literary culture despite the fact there was little demand for books by American writers. Indeed, most of the illustrated books bought, sold, and shared by Americans were either imported British works or reprinted versions of those imported editions. As a result, in addition to embellishing books, illustrations provided readers with crucial information about the country’s status as a former colony.

Through an examination of readers’ portrait-collecting habits, writers’ employment of ekphrasis, printers’ efforts to secure American-made illustrations for periodicals, and engravers’ reproductions of British book illustrations, Walsh uncovers in late eighteenth-century America a dynamic but forgotten visual culture that was inextricably tied to the printing industry and to the early US literary imagination.

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