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Month: May 2017

Michael Dirda. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books

Michael Dirda. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books. New York and London: Pegasus Books, 2015. x, 246p. ISBN 9781605988443. US$ 24.95 (hardback).

Michael Dirda takes his readers on a meandering journey through 52 essays, originally published in The American Scholar as part of a weekly column that appeared from February 2012 through February 2013. These essays, originally intended to be around 600 words, tackle mainly bookish topics and appeal to the equally bookish reader.

Hermann Wellenreuther. Citizens in a Strange Land: A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730–1830

Hermann Wellenreuther. Citizens in a Strange Land: A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730–1830. Max Kade German-American Research Institute Series. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013. xv, 384p., ill. ISBN 9780271059372. US$ 98.95.

A research team from Gottingen, headed by the author, provides us with a study of some 215 early American broadsides produced by Germans in order to shed light on the society of German farmers who settled in Pennsylvania between 1730 and 1830. Contemporary English broadsides are ignored, on the assumption that German society was largely self-contained. “Broadside” is carefully defined as “a sheet that is printed on a single sheet on either one or both sides irrespective of its contents.” There are four chapters, dealing respectively with printers, secular life, religion, and politics.

Jonathan M. Yeager. Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture

Jonathan M. Yeager. Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. xix, 234p., ill. ISBN 9780190248062. $US 74.00

Jonathan Yeager’s task in this brief monograph is to correct the portrait of the eighteenth-century divine Jonathan Edwards “as a recluse, working silently in his study for hours as he prepared his sermons and theological treatises for print single-handedly” (27). Instead, we learn of a set of book trades actors who bring Edwards (1703-1758) to a British and American public.

Shawn Anthony Christian. The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader

Shawn Anthony Christian. The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016. iii, 140p. ISBN 9781625342010 (paper); 9781625342003 (hardcover). $US 25.95 (paper); $US 90.00 (hardcover).

The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader argues that the idea of the reader was central to Harlem Renaissance discourse. African American commentators celebrated “close,” “engaged,” and “critical” reading (25, 37, 18) as the key to black autonomy and equality. By the 1910s, literacy was a widely shared value in the United States, a skill linked to moral, intellectual, and material success. The promises attached to literacy were especially attractive to marginalized readers, such as African Americans.