Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America

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Mingling God and Mammon, piety and polemics, and prescriptions for this world and the next, modern Americans have created a culture of print that is vibrantly religious. From America’s beginnings, the printed word has played a central role in articulating, propagating, defending, critiquing, and sometimes attacking religious belief. In the last two centuries the United States has become both the leading producer and consumer of print and one of the most identifiably religious nations on earth. Print in every form has helped religious groups come to grips with modernity as they construct their identities. In turn, publishers have profited by swelling their lists with spiritual advice books and scriptures formatted so as to attract every conceivable niche market.
            Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America explores how a variety of print media—religious tracts, newsletters, cartoons, pamphlets, self-help books, mass-market paperbacks, and editions of the Bible from the King James Version to contemporary “Bible-zines”—have shaped and been shaped by experiences of faith since the Civil War. Edited by Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, whose comprehensive historical essays provide a broad overview to the topic, this book is the first on the history of religious print culture in modern America and a well-timed entry into the increasingly prominent contemporary debate over the role of religion in American public life.
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“From the Puritan ‘Bible Commonwealths’ of colonial New England to the contemporary marketplace of evangelical and New Age bestsellers, American religious culture has centered on the printed word. These groundbreaking essays reveal the tremendous power of print to create communities and sustain assumptions. A fascinating foray into the modern religious worlds made by the word.”—Peter J. Thuesen, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

“[T]hose who are interested in reading thought-provoking essays examining the various ways in which print culture has influenced modern American religion—particularly Protestantism—will find this volume rewarding. Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America offers fresh perspectives and insightful analyses of understudied themes. The work will likely prompt further discussion and encourage future research in what remains a largely unexplored field.”—Evangelical Studies Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299225742
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 7/9/2008
  • Series: Print Culture History in Modern America
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,195,078
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles L. Cohen is professor of history and religious studies and director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic religions at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of God’s Caress: The Psychology of Puritan Religious Experience. Paul S. Boyer is Merle Curti Professor of History Emeritus and former director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many books include Purity in Print: Book Censorship in America from the Gilded Age to the Computer Age, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press; When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture; and Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft with Stephen Nissenbaum.
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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xix
Religion and Print Culture in American History
Religion, Print Culture, and the Bible before 1876   Charles L. Cohen     3
From Tracts to Mass-Market Paperbacks: Spreading the Word via the Printed Page in America from the Early National Era to the Present   Paul S. Boyer     14
Printing Religious Fictions and Facts, 1800-1920
Quakers in American Print Culture, 1800-1950   James Emmett Ryan     41
The Mythic Mission Lands: Medical Missionary Literature, American Children, and Cultural Identity   Rennie B. Schoepflin     72
Joseph B. Keeler, Print Culture, and the Modernization of Mormonism, 1885-1918   David J. Whittaker     105
Print Culture and Religious Group Identity
The Select Few: The Megiddo Message and the Building of a Community   Gari-Anne Patzwald     131
"Is This We Have among Us Here a Jew?" The Hillel Review and Jewish Identity at the University of Wisconsin, 1925-31   Jonathan Z. S. Pollack     156
The Print Culture of Fundamentalism
Fundamentalist Cartoons, Modernist Pamphlets, and the Religious Image of Science in the Scopes Era   Edward B. Davis     175
Reports from the Front Lines of Fundamentalism: William Bell Riley's The Pilot and Its Correspondents, 1920-47   William Vance Trollinger Jr.     199
Popular Print Culture and Consumerism, 1920-50
The Religious Book Club: Print Culture, Consumerism, and the Spiritual Life of American Protestants between the Wars   Erin A. Smith     217
Psychology and Mysticism in 1940s Religion: Reading the Readers of Fosdick, Liebman, and Merton   Matthew S. Hedstrom     243
Religion and Print Culture in Contemporary America
Healing Words: Narratives of Spiritual Healing and Kathryn Kuhlman's Uses of Print Culture, 1947-76   Candy Gunther Brown     271
New Age Feminism? Reading the Woman's "New Age" Nonfiction Best Seller in the United States   Karlyn Crowley     298
The Bible-zine Revolve and the Evolution of the Culturally Relevant Bible in America   Paul C. Gutjahr     326
Contributors     349
Index     353
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