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Cultures of Letters

Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America

Using a variety of historical sources, Richard H. Brodhead reconstructs the institutionalized literary worlds that coexisted in nineteenth-century America: the middle-class domestic culture of letters, the culture of mass-produced cheap reading, the militantly hierarchical high culture of post-emancipation black education. He describes how these socially structured worlds of writing shaped the terms of literary practice for writers like Stowe, Hawthorne, Fanny Fern, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Charles Chesnutt.

256 pages | 5 halftones | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1993

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Table of Contents

Introduction: On the Idea of Cultures of Letters
1: Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America
2: Veiled Ladies: Toward a History of Antebellum Entertainment
3: Starting Out in the 1860s: Alcott, Authorship, and the Postbellum
Literary Field
4: The Reading of Regions
For a History of Literary Access
The Reading of Regions: A Study in the Social Life of Forms
5: Jewett, Regionalism, and Writing as Women’s Work
6: "Why Could Not a Colored Man?": Chesnutt and the Transaction of

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