Abstract

This essay analyzes the publishing experiences of six Southwestern writers: Caroline Hentz and Augusta Evans, writers of popular sentimental fiction; Johnson Hooper and Joseph Baldwin, best known for their humorous stories; and William Russell Smith and Alexander Meek, who wrote in many genres. Scholars have explored the impact of capitalism on Northern writers by examining their texts and, to a lesser extent, their direct engagement with the market, but they have discussed antebellum Southern writers as if they were excluded from the domain of capitalism, and they have done so without investigating writers' economic behavior. This essay argues that the involvement of southwestern writers with the market affected them in ways that complicate our understanding of the relationship between capitalism and authorship. Regardless of how much money they earned from writing, Southwestern authors constantly pursued readers. They first sought to mobilize readers behind the idea of a purely Southern literature, and then, like writers in the North, they sought national readerships through Northern publishing firms. In the process, Southwestern writers accommodated to the market and internalized its values, but they discovered tension between their conduct as authors and their character as Southerners. And, despite their attempt to address people across the country, their work reflected the sectional conflict that took place in the market for printed materials. Ultimately, the commercialization of letters affected the way they thought of themselves both as writers and as Southerners.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0620
Print ISSN
0275-1275
Pages
pp. 471-505
Launched on MUSE
2007-09-13
Open Access
No
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