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Tag: reception studies

James Procter and Bethan Benwell. Reading Across Worlds: Transnational Book Groups and the Reception of Difference

James Procter and Bethan Benwell. Reading Across Worlds: Transnational Book Groups and the Reception of Difference. New York: Palgrave, 2015. xiv, 274p. ISBN 9781137276391. US $95.00.

Scholars and students of reading history and practices have a significant new resource in Reading Across Worlds: Transnational Book Groups and the Reception of Difference. An impressive large-scale, multi-year, and transnational study of book club talk, it provides us with a credible, intellectually rigorous account of reading reception.

Susan M. Ryan. The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace

Susan M. Ryan. The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. x, 217p. ISBN 9780190274023. US $65.00.

Deluxe limited editions with an author’s inscription were common at the end of the nineteenth century, but it is surprising to find a 1900 Haworth Edition of the novels of Charlotte Brontë signed, “Sincerely yours, C. Brontë,” as she had died a half-century earlier. While Susan Ryan only references the practice of facsimile signatures in passing, her discussion of what she calls the “moral economy” of authorship makes sense of this practice as a marketing ploy.

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.

Beverly Lyon Clark. The Afterlife of Little Women

Beverly Lyon Clark. The Afterlife of “Little Women.” Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. x, 271p., ill. ISBN 9781421415581. US $44.95.

In this thoroughly researched and well-documented text, Clark explores the history of the reception of Little Women from its publication in 1868 to the present. In addition, she considers how critics and the public viewed Alcott herself – in a sense exploring Alcott’s own reception with children and adults, scholars and the general public, from her sudden celebrity due to the popularity of the book to her “reclamation” by feminist scholars in the twenty-first century.

Michael C. Cohen. The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America

Michael C. Cohen. The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 281p., 23 ill. ISBN 9780812247084. US $55.00.

Michael C. Cohen’s The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America is a fascinating and full account of the relationships between poems and readers between the 1790s and early 1900s. Dedicated to a “lived history of literary writing in the United States,” Cohen investigates the “variety of social relations that poems made possible,” both materially and theoretically (1).

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).

Guyda Armstrong. The English Boccaccio: A History in Books

Guyda Armstrong. The English Boccaccio: A History in Books. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2013. xvi, 496p., with 16p. b&w plates. ISBN 9781442628779. CAD $42.95 (paperback).

Guyda Armstrong’s The English Boccaccio is a splendid example of what can be done with the biography of a text or, in this case, of a corpus of texts. Tracing the history of Boccaccio’s major and minor works as they have appeared in English, this book focuses on the material presentation of editions of those works and, in a series of case studies ranging from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, uses them to illuminate the wonderful diversity of ways in which Boccaccio was received in English (and occasionally in and via other languages as well) over a period of some five hundred years.