The book details the practices and priorities of an evolving US periodical culture by elaborating Melville’s “embeddedness” (8–13) within it. The method foregrounds Thompson’s expert command of the author’s correspondence, publishing relationships, and bibliography. The book takes a “writer’s eye” (7) view with accounts of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and Putnam’s Monthly focalized through Melville’s transactions with the attendant circle of publishers, editors, and printers.
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, was the epicenter of early type development for the digital age. At the time of her entry into professional life, Twombly was one of the very few visible women working in type design.
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 Devotees (2000).
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 the suggested readings myself. Although packaged as a companion book to The Broadview Reader in Book History (2014),I found the Introduction to be excellent by itself as it provides such a thorough and contained discussion.
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 is traditionally considered peripheral to intellectual culture when compared to tragedy, in this anthology the authors successfully demonstrate that, “from Plato to Aristotle to Henry Bergson and Sigmund Freud, comedy has attracted the attention of serious thinkers” (14) and has been an effective mechanism of social change.