Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America / Edition 1

Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America / Edition 1

by Richard H. Brodhead
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226075265

ISBN-13: 9780226075266

Pub. Date: 02/28/1995

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Cultures of Letters illuminates the changing place made for literature in American cultural life. Offering critics and general readers alike a fresh view of America's literary past, this book shows that writing is never simply self-generated; rather, it always reflects the literary arrangements and understandings of particular social settings. Richard H. Brodhead uses…  See more details below

Overview

Cultures of Letters illuminates the changing place made for literature in American cultural life. Offering critics and general readers alike a fresh view of America's literary past, this book shows that writing is never simply self-generated; rather, it always reflects the literary arrangements and understandings of particular social settings. Richard H. Brodhead uses a great variety of historical sources, many of them considered here for the first time, to reconstruct the institutionalized literary worlds that coexisted in nineteenth-century America: the middle-class domestic culture of letters, the culture of mass-produced cheap reading, the militantly hierarchical high culture of the post-Civil War decades, and the literary culture of post-emancipation black education. Moving across a range of writers familiar and unfamiliar, and relating groups of writers often considered in artificial isolation, Brodhead describes how these socially structured worlds of writing shaped the terms of literary practice for the authors who inhabited them. Readers will find fresh descriptions of the works and the working conditions of writers like Stowe, Hawthorne, Fanny Fern, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Charles Chesnutt, among many others. Through its examples, Cultures of Letters also suggests new, historically more informed ways to approach a number of theoretical questions: How do the terms of literature's public consumption affect the terms of its private conception? By what processes are authors admitted to or excluded from literary careers? Are writers all literary in the same way? How do social factors like race or gender affect not only literary works but the place of an author in culture? Written in vigorous, accessible prose and full of unexpected turns of thought, Cultures of Letters makes a major contribution to American literary and cultural studies and to the historical study of literary forms.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226075266
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
02/28/1995
Series:
Chicago Guides to Academic Life Ser.
Edition description:
1
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: On the Idea of Cultures of Letters1
1Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America13
2Veiled Ladies: Toward a History of Antebellum Entertainment48
3Starting Out in the 1860s: Alcott, Authorship, and the Postbellum Literary Field69
4The Reading of Regions107
For a History of Literary Access107
The Reading of Regions: A Study in the Social Life of Forms115
5Jewett, Regionalism, and Writing as Women's Work142
6"Why Could Not a Colored Man?": Chesnutt and the Transaction of Authorship177
Notes211
Index241

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