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Tag: Popular Culture

Barbara Ryan and Milette Shamir, eds. Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences

Barbara Ryan and Milette Shamir, eds. Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2016. xviii, 269p., ill. ISBN 978815634034. US $34.95.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, had sold more copies than any other novel. There were over 6,000 performances of the stage play adaptation between its debut in 1899 and 1920. Both the 1925 and 1959 films were blockbusters; the 1959 film won 11 Oscars (xi). Ben-Hur is an immensely important and largely neglected cultural text, and this is the first essay collection to address it from many perspectives, with particular emphasis on reception.

Frank Felsenstein and James J. Connolly. What Middletown Read: Print Culture in a Small American City

Frank Felsenstein and James J. Connolly. What Middletown Read: Print Culture in a Small American City. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015. 320p., ill. ISBN 9781625341419. US $28.95.

In What Middletown Read, Frank Felsenstein and James Connolly offer a compelling contribution to the growing scholarship on the history of reading. Using circulation records of the Muncie public library from 1891–1902 contained in the What Middletown Read (WMR) database and historical, demographic, and bibliographic data about the borrowers and what they borrowed, Felsenstein and Connolly investigate “the place of books and reading in the lives of ordinary Americans a little more than a century ago” (13).

James L. Baughman, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen and James P. Danky, eds. Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent Since 1865

James L. Baughman, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen and James P. Danky, eds. Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent Since 1865. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015. 278p., ill. ISBN 9780299302849. US $39.95.

Like the conference from which these papers were collected, Protest on the Page brings together voices and perspectives that rarely converge. Indeed, the book features essays by more traditional book historians (scholars whose work focuses on questions of publishing, circulation, and/or the materiality of the book) alongside essays by scholars whose work is first and foremost concerned with the investigation of past and present social movements.