The Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) is hosting a new series of Virtual Book Talks. This installment features Adam Gordon, Associate Professor of English at Whitman College, who will present on his recent book Prophets, Publicists, and Parasites: Antebellum Print Culture and the Rise of the Critic (UMass Press, 2020).
Print culture expanded significantly in the nineteenth century due to new print technologies and more efficient distribution methods, providing literary critics, who were alternately celebrated and reviled, with an ever-increasing number of venues to publish their work. Adam Gordon embraces the multiplicity of critique in the period from 1830 to 1860 by exploring the critical forms that emerged. Prophets, Publicists, and Parasites is organized around these sometimes chaotic and often generative forms and their most famous practitioners: Edgar Allan Poe and the magazine review; Ralph Waldo Emerson and the quarterly essay; Rufus Wilmot Griswold and the literary anthology; Margaret Fuller and the newspaper book review; and Frederick Douglass’s editorial repurposing of criticism from other sources. This insightful study offers a new vision of antebellum criticism, a new model of critical history, and a powerful argument for the centrality of literary criticism to modern life.
The Virtual Book Talk Series showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes an informal presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience. These talks are streamed live for registered participants and are recorded for posterity. Talks typically last 45 minutes.
Information on future PHBAC book talks may be found at https://www.americanantiquarian.org/virtual-book-talks.