Reading Oprah: How Oprah's Book Club Changed the Way America Reads / Edition 1

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An analysis of how Oprah's Book Club has changed America's reading habits.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this excellent study of an exceptional media phenomenon, Farr, chair of the English Department at the College of St. Catherine, argues that Oprah's book club was a truly significant cultural event. In succinct, stylish prose, Farr describes a "uniquely American Culture War" at the heart of the high-brow versus middle-brow controversy. Farr elegantly summarizes the book club's genesis, its capacity to generate massive sales and the literary content of Oprah's picks. She praises Oprah's democratic, "bottom up" style of teaching, which enabled the least educated readers to try books they might never otherwise have read. She points out how Toni Morrison's crucial presence on the show enabled reflective literary discussions to reach millions, despite the supposed vulgarity of the televisual format. Farr also demonstrates how Oprah's fiction choices forged a link in the public mind between social responsibility and literature, particularly regarding race. In an engaging personal voice that draws on the theories of a range of cultural critics, Farr considers the meaning of middlebrow literature, the history of the novel, immigration and literacy, class, self-improvement and democracy in America and how Oprah mapped a new public space in which a "conversation with books" became possible for millions of viewers normally excluded from the rarefied world of scholarship. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791462584
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Cecilia Konchar Farr is Professor of English and Women’s Studies and Chair of the English Department at the College of St. Catherine.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Elizabeth Long


Introduction: Oprah's Reading Revolution

1. Reading Oprah

The Book Club Begins
To Enlighten and Entertain
The Oprah Effect
The Oprah Writers
Oprah's Choices
What Women Want

2. Oprah Reading

The Talking Book
The Way West
The Middlebrow Novel
The Middlebrow Book Club
Reading Lessons

Deep End of the Ocean
Song of Solomon

Talk Reading

Song of Solomon

3. Readers Talking

Group Reading
The Talking Life

Black and Blue
Open House

Oprah's American Story
The Elegant Balance

The Bluest Eye

4. Talking Readers

The Corrections
Claiming Cultural Capital
Learning to Read
The List
Reading for Class
Shifting Standards
Anticipatory Marketing

Conclusion: The Triumph of Cultural Democracy

Cultural Democracy

White Oleander



Works Cited


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