Gavin Edwards. The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet.

a christmas carol? How does the change in capitalization impact our reading of the text? Gavin Edwards’s The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet is a thorough consideration of the use and abuse of the initial letter. The initial letter is the first letter of a word. It is not necessarily a drop cap or an ornamental letter that starts a chapter with embellishment. The upper-case initial letter is most often quieter than that – a C instead of a c – but, as we learn, it conveys dignity and carries political weight. 

Tessa Jordan. Feminist Acts: Branching Out Magazine and the Making of Canadian Feminism.

“‘If you wish to write about your children, may we suggest Ladies’ Home Journal? We are a literary magazine’” (156). The above statement, received by American Pulitzer Prize winner Sharon Olds and recorded by Tessa Jordan in Feminist Acts, situates the need feminists felt to create their own magazines in Canada in the 1970s. At the time, women had scant few spaces in which to display their creative output and political opinions, and many women suffered from the assumptions of editors and art critics that their works were simply not as good as those by men. If that was true for women in the dominant print culture of the United States, what were feminists in the Canadian Prairies meant to do? It is against this backdrop that the Canadian feminist periodical Branching Out appeared.

Harrington-Lueker, Donna. Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading.

While we may sometimes remember particular “beach reads” and other vacation reading we bring with us, most of the light reading that dominates the myriad summer reading lists isn’t meant to last. Donna Harrington-Lueker has traced the origins of the phenomenon of summer reading in the late-nineteenth-century United States, highlighting the role of ephemerality and entertainment as publishers and reviewers developed the concept of “summer reading,” as well as how tenacious many of the practices of summer reading are, from reading in public spaces to stockpiling books in convenient corners of a hotel room or guest house.

Troy J. Bassett. The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Three-Volume Novel.

From its obscure beginnings as “one publisher’s calculated gamble” in 1821 to its becoming the format most favored by women authors (96), the Victorian three-volume novel was central to how books were written, marketed, and consumed from the 1840s until the end of the century. The first study to provide a comprehensive examination of the form “as a literary and economic product” (12), Bassett’s rich history takes us from its inception to demise through scrutiny of the organizations that published, circulated, and, ultimately, rejected it. Beyond giving a general economic and cultural history of the format, the book addresses gaps in previous scholarship relating to the form’s financial viability, its longevity, and the complex reasons behind its decline in the 1890s. 

Sheila Liming. What a Library Means to a Woman: Edith Wharton and the Will to Collect Books.

The 2,700-plus books at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic Berkshire estate, represent only a portion of the novelist’s remarkable collection. Another 2,500 volumes, which one of Wharton’s heirs stored in a London warehouse after her death, were destroyed in the Blitz. And the volumes now in the Mount’s collection themselves survived storage in an English castle (some have the wormholes to show for it) and in a bookseller’s attic before a high-profile (and contentious) negotiation brought them to the Mount in 2006.