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Books and the Popularization of Knowledge
Over the past fifty years, knowledge of the natural world, history, and human behavior has expanded dramatically. What has been learned in the academy has become part of political discourse, sermons, and everyday conversation. The dominant medium for transferring knowledge from universities to the public is popularization—books of serious nonfiction that make complex ideas and information accessible to nonexperts. Such writers as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Boorstin, and Robert Coles have attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. As fields such as biology, physics, history, and psychology have changed the ways we view ourselves and our place in the universe, popularization has played an essential role in helping us to understand our world. Expanding the American Mind begins by comparing fiction and nonfiction—their relative respectability in the eyes of reading experts and in the opinions of readers themselves. It then traces the roots of popularization from the Middle Ages to the present, examining changes in literacy, education, and university politics. Focusing on the period since World War II, it examines the ways that curricular reform has increased interest in popularization as well as the impact of specialization and professionalization among the faculty. It looks at the motivations of academic authors and the risks and rewards that come from writing for a popular audience. It also explains how experts write for nonexperts—the rhetorical devices they use and the voices in which they communicate. Beth Luey also looks at the readers of popularizations—their motivations for reading, the ways they evaluate nonfiction, and how they choose what to read. This is the first book to use surveys and online reader responses to study nonfiction reading. It also compares the experience of reading serious nonfiction with that of reading other genres. Using publishers’ archives and editor-author correspondence, Luey goes on to examine what editors, designers, and marketers in this very competitive business do to create and sell popularizations to the largest audience possible. In a brief afterword she discusses popularization and the Web. The result is a highly readable and engaging survey of this distinctive genre of writing.
Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer
In this provocative work, Roger Chartier continues his extraordinarily influential consideration of the forms of production, dissemination, and interpretation of discourse in Early Modern Europe. Chartier here examines the relationship between patronage and the market, and explores how the form in which a text is transmitted not only constrains the production of meaning but defines and constructs its audience.
Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century
The start of the twenty-first century has brought with it a rich variety of ways in which readers can connect with one another, access texts, and make sense of what they are reading. At the same time, new technologies have also opened up exciting possibilities for scholars of reading and reception in offering them unprecedented amounts of data on reading practices, book buying patterns, and book collecting habits. In From Codex to Hypertext, scholars from multiple disciplines engage with both of these strands. This volume includes essays that consider how changes such as the mounting ubiquity of digital technology and the globalization of structures of publication and book distribution are shaping the way readers participate in the encoding and decoding of textual meaning. Contributors also examine how and why reading communities cohere in a range of contexts, including prisons, book clubs, networks of zinesters, state-funded programs designed to promote active citizenship, and online spaces devoted to sharing one’s tastes in books. As concerns circulate in the media about the ways that reading—for so long anchored in print culture and the codex—is at risk of being irrevocably altered by technological shifts, this book insists on the importance of tracing the historical continuities that emerge between these reading practices and those of previous eras. In addition to the volume editor, contributors include Daniel Allington, Bethan Benwell, Jin Feng, Ed Finn, Danielle Fuller, David S. Miall, Julian Pinder, Janice Radway, Julie Rak, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Megan Sweeney, Joan Bessman Taylor, Molly Abel Travis, and David Wright.
as well as providing a commentary on his novels, plays, and short stories, this book sets Gombrowicz's writing in the context of contemporary cultural theory. The author performs a detailed examination of Gombrowicz's major literary and theatrical work, showing how his conception of form is highly resonant with contemporary, postmodern theories of identity.
Print, Manuscript, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England
John Milton's Commonplace Book is the only known political notebook of a radical polemicist writing during the English civil war, and the most extensive manuscript record of reading we have from any major English poet from this period. In this rethinking of a surprisingly neglected body of evidence, Thomas Fulton explores Milton's reading practices and the ways he used this reading in his writing. Fulton's close study of the Commonplace Book suggests that this reading record is far from the haphazard collection of notes that it first appears but is instead a program of research which had its own ideology that responded to the reading habits and practices of Milton's contemporaries. Created mostly in the late 1630s and during the overthrow of the Stuart government in the 1640s, Milton's reading notes yield a number of surprises, the most fundamental being a highly structured commitment to political history. Fulton explores the relationship between the manuscript author and his polemical persona, placing the Commonplace Book, the manuscript "Digression" to the History of Britain, and some wartime poems in revealing contrast to the printed political texts of this period.
Destruction and Preservation
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany systematically destroyed an estimated 100 million books throughout occupied Europe, an act that was inextricably bound up with the murder of 6 million Jews. By burning and looting libraries and censoring “un-German” publications, the Nazis aimed to eradicate all traces of Jewish culture along with the Jewish people themselves. The Holocaust and the Book examines this bleak chapter in the history of printing, reading, censorship, and libraries. Topics include the development of Nazi censorship policies, the celebrated library of the Vilna ghetto, the confiscation of books from the Sephardic communities in Rome and Salonika, the experience of reading in the ghettos and concentration camps, the rescue of Polish incunabula, the uses of fine printing by the Dutch underground, and the suppression of Jewish books and authors in the Soviet Union. Several authors discuss the continuing relevance of Nazi book burnings to the present day, with essays on German responses to Friedrich Nietzsche and the destruction of Bosnian libraries in the 1990s. The collection also includes eyewitness accounts by Holocaust survivors and a translation of Herman Kruk's report on the Vilna ghetto library. An annotated bibliography offers readers a concise guide to research in this growing field.
Conducting author interviews was not part of her plan, but one day when she was perusing a writing publication she came across an announcement about an upcoming workshop in which author interviews would be the focus. Motivated by her long-term love of fiction, her ever-expanding love of writing, and her quest for authorial knowledge, she decided to take the workshop. Initially she interviewed Paul Lisicky and Jill McCorkle, writers with whom she had already studied. After these interviews were accepted by a prestigious art magazine and literary journal, she interviewed other writers with whom she had studied: Ron Carlson and Margot Livesey. Ellis then started reaching out to authors she had never met before: Edward P. Jones, Julia Glass, Steve Almond, Amy Bloom, Chris Abani, to name a few. And the amazing thing was that the majority of authors she approached agreed to be interviewed. After she realized she had nearly enough interviews for an anthology the concept of Illuminating Fiction was born. The interviews contained in Illuminating Fiction include unique questions drawn from the text of the authors' work, questions about narrative voice, character, place, point of view, plot, revision, questions about the arc of the story/novel, questions about writing process, questions about the trajectory of the writer's career, and questions about the role and importance of writing courses and mentoring. Interviewed authors also provided their opinions of quotes about writing and creativity by other authors and artists, and they respond to questions about the challenges they face in developing their craft. The reader is thereby able to gain an intimate and specific understanding of the writer's words and craft, and what was going on in the author's mind as they created their novels, short stories, and poems.
Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865
In this groundbreaking work of cultural history, Alice Fahs explores a little-known and fascinating side of the Civil War--the outpouring of popular literature inspired by the conflict. From 1861 to 1865, authors and publishers in both the North and the South produced a remarkable variety of war-related compositions, including poems, songs, children's stories, romances, novels, histories, and even humorous pieces. Fahs mines these rich but long-neglected resources to recover the diversity of the war's political and social meanings.Instead of narrowly portraying the Civil War as a clash between two great, white armies, popular literature offered a wide range of representations of the conflict and helped shape new modes of imagining the relationships of diverse individuals to the nation. Works that explored the war's devastating impact on white women's lives, for example, proclaimed the importance of their experiences on the home front, while popular writings that celebrated black manhood and heroism in the wake of emancipation helped readers begin to envision new roles for blacks in American life. Recovering a lost world of popular literature, ###The Imagined Civil War# adds immeasurably to our understanding of American life and letters at a pivotal point in our history.A groundbreaking work of cultural history in which the author explores a little-known and fascinating side of the Civil War--the outpouring of popular literature inspired by the conflict: poems, songs, children's stories, romances, novels, histories, and even humorous pieces.In this groundbreaking work of cultural history, Alice Fahs explores a little-known and fascinating side of the Civil War--the outpouring of popular literature inspired by the conflict. From 1861 to 1865, authors and publishers in both the North and the South produced a remarkable variety of war-related compositions, including poems, songs, children's stories, romances, novels, histories, and even humorous pieces. Fahs mines these rich but long-neglected resources to recover the diversity of the war's political and social meanings.Instead of narrowly portraying the Civil War as a clash between two great, white armies, popular literature offered a wide range of representations of the conflict and helped shape new modes of imagining the relationships of diverse individuals to the nation. Works that explored the war's devastating impact on white women's lives, for example, proclaimed the importance of their experiences on the home front, while popular writings that celebrated black manhood and heroism in the wake of emancipation helped readers begin to envision new roles for blacks in American life. Recovering a lost world of popular literature, ###The Imagined Civil War# adds immeasurably to our understanding of American life and letters at a pivotal point in our history.
The Institution of Literature in the Age of the Novel
This book records a major critic's three decades of thinking about the connection between literature and the conditions of people's lives-that is, politics. A preference for impurity and a search for how to analyze and explain it are guiding threads in this book as its chapters pursue the complex entanglements of culture,politics, and society from which great literature arises. At its core is the nineteenth-century novel, but it addresses a broader range of writers as well, in a textured, contoured, discontinuous history.The chapters stand out for a rare combination. They practice both an intensive close reading that does not demand unity as its goal and an attention to literature as a social institution, a source of values that are often created in its later reception rather than given at the outset. When addressing canonical writers-Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, Keats, Melville, George Eliot, Flaubert, Baudelaire, and Ralph Ellison-the author never forgets that many of their texts, even Shakespeare's plays, were in their own time judged to be popular, commercial, minor, or even trashy. In drawing on these works as resources in politically charged arguments about value, the author pays close attention to the processes of posterity that validated these authors' greatness.Among those processes of posterity are the responses of other writers. In making their choices of style, subject, genre, and form, writers both draw from and differ from other writers of the past and of their own times. The critical thinking about other literature through which many great works construct their inventiveness reveals that criticism is not just a minor, secondary practice, segregated from the primary work of creativity.Participating in as well as analyzing that work of critical creativity, this volume is rich with important insights for all readers and teachers of literature.