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Month: April 2018

Jennifer Harris and Hilary Iris Lowe, eds. From Page to Place: American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors

Jennifer Harris and Hilary Iris Lowe, eds. From Page to Place: American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017. v, 244p., ill. ISBN 9781625342331. $28.95.

This examination of literary tourist destinations – from birthplaces to graves and from real-life models for fictional settings to spaces where texts were written – is built upon the dictum that American literature is more than “simply a matter of words on a page” (1). Rather, it emerges from a mélange of “collaborative [efforts] between author, preservationist, curator, docent, reader, and tourist,” such that the sites visited by avid tourists are “functioning alternately or simultaneously as markers of community, memorials, conduits, exemplars and training grounds in ways authors themselves never imagined” (2).

Steven Carl Smith. An Empire of Print: The New York Publishing Trade in the Early American Republic

Steven Carl Smith. An Empire of Print: The New York Publishing Trade in the Early American Republic. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017. xvi, 244p. ISBN 9780271078519. US$ 99.95 (hardcover).

It has been roughly 35 years since Benedict Anderson posited a connection between “print culture” and the “imagined community” of American nationhood. In the meantime, this relationship between things material (print) and things imagined (nation) has, somewhat paradoxically, become both a widely-held assumption and an incredibly difficult connection to measure and prove. How do we know “nation” when we can’t see it, except for what we can see of its smaller, material parts? Landmark scholarly works on print culture in the early Republic such as Michael Warner’s Letters of the Republic (1990) and Trish Loughran’s Republic in Print (2007) have made considerable waves in the discipline with their varying accounts not only of how, but also when print created and shaped a national community.

Matt Cohen. Whitman’s Drift: Imagining Literary Distribution

Matt Cohen. Whitman’s Drift: Imagining Literary Distribution. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017. xvi, 269p., ill. ISBN 9781609384760. US$ 65.00

Published as part of the University of Iowa Press’s impressive Whitman Series (edited by Ed Folsom), Matt Cohen’s Whitman’s Drift investigates not only the multitudinous ways by which Walt Whitman distributed his work, but also how the great nineteenth-century poet imagined that distribution. By performing this innovative intellectual maneuver, Cohen is able to take his analysis beyond the realm of Whitman and his poetics and open up new questions about the role of distribution in print culture studies and literary studies more generally.