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Literature > Book History and Print Culture

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Shaped by Stories Cover

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Shaped by Stories

The Ethical Power of Narratives

Marshall Gregory

In his latest book, Marshall Gregory begins with the premise that our lives are saturated with stories, ranging from magazines, books, films, television, and blogs to the words spoken by politicians, pastors, and teachers. He then explores the ethical implication of this nearly universal human obsession with narratives. Through careful readings of Katherine Anne Porter’s "The Grave," Thurber’s "The Catbird Seat," as well as David Copperfield and Wuthering Heights, Gregory asks (and answers) the question: How do the stories we absorb in our daily lives influence the kinds of persons we turn out to be? Shaped by Stories is accessible to anyone interested in ethics, popular culture, and education. It will encourage students and teachers to become more thoughtful and perceptive readers of stories.

Still in Print Cover

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Still in Print

The Southern Novel Today

Jan Nordby Gretlund

In Still in Print, eighteen Southern novels published since 1997 fall under the careful scrutiny of an international cast of accomplished literary critics to identify the very best of recent writings in the genre. These essays highlight the praiseworthy efforts of a pantheon of novelists celebrating and challenging regionality, unearthing manifestations of the past in the present, and looking to the future with wit and healthy skepticism. Organized around shared themes of history, place, humor, and malaise, the novels discussed here interrogate Southern culture and explore the region's promise for the future. Four novels reconsider the Civil War and its aftermath as Charles Frazier, Kaye Gibbons, Josephine Humphreys, and Pam Durban revisit the past and add fresh insights to contemporary discussions of race and gender through their excursions into history. The novels by Steve Yarbrough, Larry Brown, Chris Offutt, Barry Hannah, and James Lee Burke demonstrate a keen sense of place, rooted in a South marked by fundamentalism, poverty, violence, and rampant prejudice but still capable of promise for some unseen future. The comic fiction of George Singleton, Clyde Edgerton, James Wilcox, Donald Harington, and Lewis Nordan shows how Southern humor still encompasses customs and speech reflected in concrete places. Ron Rash, Richard Ford, and Cormac McCarthy probe the depths of human existence, often with disturbing results, as they write about protagonists cut off from their own humanity and desperate to reconnect with the human race. Diverse in content but unified in genre, these particular novels have been nominated by the contributors to Still in Print for long-term survival as among the best modern representations of the Southern novel.

The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories Cover

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The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories

Making and experiencing stories, remembering and retelling them is something we all do. We tell stories over meals, at the water cooler, and to both friends and strangers. But how do stories work? What is it about telling and listening to stories that unites us? And, more importantly, how do we change them-and how do they change us?

In The Story Is True, author, filmmaker, and photographer Bruce Jackson explores the ways we use the stories that become a central part of our public and private lives. He examines, as no one before has, how stories narrate and bring meaning to our lives, by describing and explaining how stories are made and used. The perspectives shared in this engaging book come from the tellers, writers, filmmakers, listeners, and watchers who create and consume stories.

Jackson writes about his family and friends, acquaintances and experiences, focusing on more than a dozen personal stories. From oral histories, such as conversations the author had with poet Steven Spender, to public stories, such as what happened when Bob Dylan "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Jackson also investigates how "words can kill" showing how diction can be an administrator of death, as in Nazi extermination camps. And finally, he considers the way lies come to resemble truth, showing how the stories we tell, whether true or not, resemble truth to the teller.

Ultimately, The Story Is True is about the place of stories-fiction or real-and the impact they have on the lives of each one of us.

The Story Within Us Cover

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The Story Within Us

Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading

This volume features in-depth, oral interviews with eleven incarcerated women, each of whom offers a narrative of her life and her reading experiences within prison walls. The women share powerful stories about their complex and diverse efforts to negotiate difficult relationships, exercise agency in restrictive circumstances, and find meaning and beauty in the midst of pain. Their shared emphases on abuse, poverty, addiction, and mental illness illuminate the pathways that lead many women to prison and suggest possibilities for addressing the profound social problems that fuel crime. _x000B__x000B_Framing the narratives within an analytic introduction and reflective afterword, Megan Sweeney highlights the crucial intellectual work that the incarcerated women perform despite myriad restrictions on reading and education in U.S. prisons. These women use the limited reading materials available to them as sources of guidance and support and as tools for self-reflection and self-education. Through their creative engagements with books, the women learn to reframe their own life stories, situate their experiences in relation to broader social patterns, deepen their understanding of others, experiment with new ways of being, and maintain a sense of connection with their fellow citizens on both sides of the prison fence._x000B_

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Studies in Bibliography

Vol. 55 (2002) through current issue

Studies in Bibliography is one of the pre-eminent journals in the fields of analytical bibliography, textual criticism, manuscript study, and the history of printing and publishing. Founded in 1948 by Fredson Bowers of the University of Virginia and published annually since then, SB continues to maintain its reputation as a forum for the best textual and bibliographical work being done anywhere in the world.

Suburban Plots Cover

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Suburban Plots

Men at Home in Nineteenth-Century American Print Culture

Maura D'Amore

In the middle of nineteenth century, as Americans contended with rapid industrial and technological change, readers relied on periodicals and books for information about their changing world. Within this print culture, a host of writers, editors, architects, and reformers urged men to commute to and from their jobs in the city, which was commonly associated with overcrowding, disease, and expense. Through a range of materials, from pattern books to novels and a variety of periodicals, men were told of the restorative effects on body and soul of the natural environment, found in the emerging suburbs outside cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. They were assured that the promise of an ideal home, despite its association with women’s work, could help to motivate them to engage in the labor and commute that took them away from it each day. In Suburban Plots, Maura D’Amore explores how Henry David Thoreau, Henry Ward Beecher, Donald Grant Mitchell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nathaniel Parker Willis, and others utilized the pen to plot opportunities for a new sort of male agency grounded, literarily and spatially, in a suburbanized domestic landscape. D’Amore uncovers surprising narratives that do not fit easily into standard critical accounts of midcentury home life. Taking men out of work spaces and locating them in the domestic sphere, these writers were involved in a complex process of portraying men struggling to fulfill fantasies outside of their professional lives, in newly emerging communities. These representations established the groundwork for popular conceptions of suburban domestic life that remain today.

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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.

Traversing the Democratic Borders of the Essay Cover

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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.

Used Books Cover

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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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