Skip to content

SHARP News Posts

Graham Thompson. Herman Melville Among the Magazines

Graham Thompson. Herman Melville Among the Magazines. Amherst & Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2018. 272p. ISBN 978-1-62534-324-6. US$ 32.95 (Paper). ISBN 978-1-62534-323-9. US$ 90 (Cloth). In an 1851 letter to Evert Duyckinck, Herman Melville describes taking a sleigh ride to the town of Dalton, Massachusetts to purchase fine paper from one of the five mills in operation there. He points to the watermark in the letter paper as proof of the journey, remarking “‘about 5 miles from here, North…

Nancy Stock-Allen. Carol Twombly: Her Brief but Brilliant Career in Type Design

Nancy Stock-Allen. Carol Twombly: Her Brief but Brilliant Career in Type Design. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2016. 176 p. ill. ISBN 978-1-58456-346-4. $US49.95. Nancy Stock-Allen’s book is an unapologetic homage (“Her brief but brilliant career in type design” is the subtitle) to the work of type designer Carol Twombly, whose career bridged the critical moment that typography moved from cold type (photo-based creation and capture that never successfully found its legs) to digital. Adobe Systems, where Twombly worked,…

Juliette Wells. Reading Austen in America

Juliette Wells. Reading Austen in America. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. 256 p. ill. ISBN 978-1350012042. $US68 hardcover, $US22.95 paper. Juliette Wells’s Reading Austen in America considers Austen’s influence outside of Britain, and it serves as a prequel to her earlier book, Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination (Bloomsbury, 2011). It complements other recent works such as Paula Byrne’s The Genius of Jane Austen (2017), Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen (2017), and Deidre Lynch’s Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and…

Michelle Levy and Tom Mole, eds. The Broadview Introduction to Book History

Michelle Levy and Tom Mole, eds. The Broadview Introduction to Book History. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2017. 256 p., ill. ISBN: 9781554810871. $US31.95. The Broadview Introduction to Book History (2017) is an unusual textbook. It provides an informed introduction that is scholarly, concise and accessible to readers at different points in their education. At the same time, it is written in such an animated style and tone that I cannot wait to use it in class and follow through on…

Magda Romanska and Alan Ackerman (eds.), Reader in Comedy. An Anthology of Theory and Criticism

Magda Romanska and Alan Ackerman (eds.), Reader in Comedy. An Anthology of Theory and Criticism. London and New York: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2017. xl, 375 p. 108 ill. ISBN 9781474247887. £ 95.00 (hardcover). Magda Romanska and Alan Ackerman’s Reader in Comedy is a well-thought-out anthology that embarks on a challenging enterprise: to provide an overview of theories related to comedy, broadly conceived, starting with the ancient Greek comedy and ending with the present-day sitcoms, vaudeville performances, slapstick comedy, and Internet humor. While comedy…

Jonathan Rose. Readers’ Liberation

Jonathan Rose. Readers’ Liberation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. viii, 208 p. ISBN 9780198723554. $US20.95. Jonathan Rose has long excelled at finding an audience among the ordinary readers whose history he has spent a career tracing, and Readers’ Liberation should prove no exception. Engaging, accessible, and polemical, it is a perfect fit for Oxford’s Literary Agenda series and is likely to attract those drawn to his earlier works, from The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001) to The Literary Churchill (2014). Written for…

Stephan Füssel, ed. Gutenberg-Jahrbuch. No. 93 (2018)

  Stephan Füssel, ed. Gutenberg-Jahrbuch. No. 93 (2018). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2018. 281 p. ISBN 9783447110563. EUR 93.00. This issue also serves as a celebration of the five hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Gutenberg’s death. Appropriately the first four contributions deal with early printed editions of the Bible. In the first of his two pieces Eric Marshall White discusses the neglect into which knowledge of Gutenberg’s achievement fell, before he outlines its rediscovery in eighteenth-century Germany and France. He then tabulates…

Amanda Laugesen. Taking Books to the World: American Publishers and the Cultural Cold War.

Amanda Laugesen. Taking Books to the World: American Publishers and the Cultural Cold War. Boston and Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017. 192 p. ISBN 9781625343093. $US28.95. In Taking Books to the World: American Publishers and the Cultural Cold War, Amanda Laugesen maps out Franklin Publications’ global initiative, “a kind of American Cold War book empire, one that brought American books and the publishing industry to all corners of the globe” (2). She contends that Franklin is both typical of…

Loren Glass, ed. After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University

Loren Glass, ed. After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016. vii, 277p. ISBN 9781609384395. US$ 35.00 (paperback).

I remember being riveted by Mark McGurl’s The Program Era: Post-War Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Harvard UP, 2009). It offered a grand unified field theory of post-1945 American fiction – a sophisticated, materialist account of how the conditions of literary production shaped American prose. McGurl argued that “the rise of the creative writing program stands as the most important event in postwar American literary history” (ix), making us rethink the relationship between higher education and the literary marketplace.

After the Program Era, as Glass describes it in the introduction, “explores the consequences and implications, as well as the lacunae and liabilities, of McGurl’s foundational intervention” (1).

Donal Harris. On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines

Donal Harris. On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 275p., ill. ISBN 9780231177726. US$ 60 (hardcover).

On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines provides a valuable addition to the history of American literary modernism by highlighting the ways it “evolve[d] within rather than against the mass print culture of its moment” (8). Using a “literary-historical interpretation” that seeks to transcend traditional periodical genres, Harris convincingly demonstrates the interrelationship between a subset of commercial periodicals he identifies as distinct for their focus on textual and visual style above content (which he labels “big magazines”) and stylistic innovations and cultural understandings of American modernism in the first half of the twentieth century.