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Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation

Vol. 1 (2006) through current issue

Textual Cultures (published annually since 1983 as Text: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies) brings together essays by scholars from numerous disciplines and focuses on issues of textual editing, redefinitions of textuality, the history of the book, material culture, and the fusion of codicology with literary, musicological, and art historical interpretation and iconography. It is the official publication of the Society for Textual Scholarship. Membership in the Society includes a subscription to the journal.

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Traversing the Democratic Borders of the Essay

Scholarship on the personal essay has focused on Western European and U. S. varieties of the form. In Traversing the Democratic Borders of the Essay, Cristina Kirklighter extends these boundaries by reading the Latin American and Latino/a essayists Paulo Freire, Victor Villanueva, and Ruth Behar, alongside such canonical figures as Montaigne, Bacon, Emerson, and Thoreau. In this fascinating journey into the commonalities and differences among these essayists, Kirklighter focuses on various elements of the personal essay—self-reflexivity, accessibility, spontaneity, and a rhetoric of sincerity—in order to argue for a more democratic form of writing in academia, one that would democratize the academy and promote nation-building. By using these elements in their teachings and writings, Kirklighter argues, educators can play a significant role in helping others who experience academic alienation achieve a better sense of belonging as they slowly dismantle the walls of the ivory tower.

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Twentieth-Century Sentimentalism

Narrative Appropriation in American Literature

by Jennifer A. Williamson

Today’s critical establishment assumes that sentimentalism is an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary mode that all but disappeared by the twentieth century. In this book, Jennifer Williamson argues that sentimentalism is alive and well in the modern era. By examining working-class literature that adopts the rhetoric of “feeling right” in order to promote a proletarian or humanist ideology as well as neo-slave narratives that wrestle with the legacy of slavery and cultural definitions of African American families, she explores the ways contemporary authors engage with familiar sentimental clichés and ideals.Williamson covers new ground by examining authors who are not generally read for their sentimental narrative practices, considering the proletarian novels of Grace Lumpkin, Josephine Johnson, and John Steinbeck alongside neo-slave narratives written by Margaret Walker, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison. Through careful close readings, Williamson argues that the appropriation of sentimental modes enables both sympathetic thought and systemic action in the proletarian and neo-slave novels under discussion. She contrasts appropriations that facilitate such cultural work with those that do not, including Kathryn Stockett’s novel and film The Help. The book outlines how sentimentalism remains a viable and important means of promoting social justice while simultaneously recognizing and exploring how sentimentality can further white privilege.Sentimentalism is not only alive in the twentieth century. It is a flourishing rhetorical practice among a range of twentieth-century authors who use sentimental tactics in order to appeal to their readers about a range of social justice issues. This book demonstrates that at stake in their appeals is who is inside and outside of the American family and nation.

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Used Books

Marking Readers in Renaissance England

By William H. Sherman

In a recent sale catalog, one bookseller apologized for the condition of a sixteenth-century volume as "rather soiled by use." When the book was displayed the next year, the exhibition catalogue described it as "well and piously used [with] marginal notations in an Elizabethan hand [that] bring to life an early and earnest owner"; and the book's buyer, for his part, considered it to be "enlivened by the marginal notes and comments." For this collector, as for an increasing number of cultural historians and historians of the book, a marked-up copy was more interesting than one in pristine condition.

William H. Sherman recovers a culture that took the phrase "mark my words" quite literally. Books from the first two centuries of printing are full of marginalia and other signs of engagement and use, such as customized bindings, traces of food and drink, penmanship exercises, and doodles. These marks offer a vast archive of information about the lives of books and their place in the lives of their readers.

Based on a survey of thousands of early printed books, Used Books describes what readers wrote in and around their books and what we can learn from these marks by using the tools of archaeologists as well as historians and literary critics. The chapters address the place of book-marking in schools and churches, the use of the "manicule" (the ubiquitous hand-with-pointing-finger symbol), the role played by women in information management, the extraordinary commonplace book used for nearly sixty years by Renaissance England's greatest lawyer-statesman, and the attitudes toward annotated books among collectors and librarians from the Middle Ages to the present.

This wide-ranging, learned, and often surprising book will make the marks of Renaissance readers more visible and legible to scholars, collectors, and bibliophiles.

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Victorian Periodicals Review

Vol. 38 (2005) through current issue

Victorian Periodicals Review has developed a large and far-reaching audience. VPR has evolved into a review with an annual index, member questionnaires, and one of a projected series of guides to major research libraries and their holdings, lists of forthcoming articles, obituaries of members who played a substantial role, and informative articles on a wide range of topics from a variety of disciplines. VPR is the only refereed journal that concentrates on the editorial and publishing history of Victorian periodicals. Its emphasis is on the importance of periodicals for an understanding of the history and culture of Victorian Britain, Ireland, and the Empire. Special issues have been devoted to Dickens, Macmillan s Magazine, Art, Theory, American Periodicals, Women Critics and Editors, and the Athenaeum. Published quarterly.

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What Adolescents Ought to Know

Sexual Health Texts in Early Twentieth-Century America

Jennifer Burek Pierce

In 1901, Dr. Alfred Fournier committed an act both simple and revolutionary: he wrote For Our Sons, When They Turn 18, a sexual and reproductive health treatise based on his clinical work at a leading Paris hospital. If this booklet aided adolescent understanding of health, it also encouraged reformers around the world to publish. By 1913, countless works on venereal disease prevention were available to adolescents. During this period, authors wrestled with how to make still-developing scientific information available to a reader also in the process of maturing. What would convince a young person to avoid acting on desire? What norms should be employed in these arguments, when social and legal precedents warned against committing ideas about sex to print? How, in other words, could information about sex be made both decent and compelling? Health reformers struggled with these challenges as doctors’ ability to diagnose diseases such as syphilis outpaced the production of medicines that could restore health. In this context, information represented the best and truest prophylactic. When publications were successful, from the perspective of information dissemination, they were translated and distributed worldwide. What Adolescents Ought to Know explores the evolution of these printed materials—from a single tract, written by a medical researcher and given free to anyone, to a thriving commercial enterprise. It tells the story of how sex education moved from private conversation to purchased text in early twentieth-century America.

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