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The social life of magazines: Four dialogues, 1880--1917

Jeanine F Jewell, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation explores the cultural functions and effects of magazines at the turn of the century, both in the culture at large and in scenes of writing in particular. I propose that the turn-of-the-century magazine provided writers with a multi-vocal environment within which they could articulate responses to specific cultural developments and their own professional concerns. ^ Chapter One looks at the physical scene of writing as it was shaped by mechanical and technological advances such as the typewriter and the telephone. By examining Mark Twain's magazine sketches, I argue that he uses humor as a means to resist having his voice erased by the technologies of writing. Finally, I show Twain's extended working out of the tension between authorial voice and technology by closely reading an excerpt from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court as published in Century magazine. ^ Chapter Two examines the relationship of the writer to the business of publishing in a mass-magazine market, focusing on William Dean Howells' dual roles as editor and writer. By reading Howells' two novels of publishing, A Hazard of New Fortunes and The World of Chance, and his essay “The Man of Letters as a Man of Business,” I demonstrate how Howells attempted to create alternative resolutions to the conflicts faced by writers and publishers. ^ Chapter Three discusses magazines' wider inclusion during this period of outsider authors and the particular problems faced by African-American writers. Within the context of specific magazines, I examine Paul Laurence Dunbar's publication of dialect poetry and fiction about the post-Civil War black experience. Finally I note how three leading turn-of-the-century African-American magazines used Dunbar as a touchstone in their construction of a black literary history. ^ Chapter Four explores the experience of reading serializations of The House of Mirth in Scribner's and of Summer in McClure's. After historicizing the role of serialization, my close reading of individual installment endings suggests how contemporary readers might have experienced the key conflicts and climaxes of Wharton's novels. I also discuss the dialogue between the serial installments and the specific textual environment of the magazine. ^

Subject Area

Black Studies|Literature, American|Mass Communications

Recommended Citation

Jewell, Jeanine F, "The social life of magazines: Four dialogues, 1880--1917" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3176786.