As a former magazine editor and writer with a doctorate in English literature, I find myself at home in research that focuses on studies in print culture and the history of the book. I’m also interested in alternative and radical publications, feminist media studies, and all things having to do with magazine and book publishing.
Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading (University of Massachusetts Press, Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book, Feb. 2019)
DESCRIPTION: Books for Idle Hours focuses on the birth of the publishing phenomenon we today call the “beach read” in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Drawing on book reviews, readers’ diaries, and publishing records, it traces the ways in which nineteenth-century readers, authors, and publishing houses came to frame summer reading not as a disreputable indulgence, but as a respectable pastime and a welcome respite, especially for women readers. It also examines the development of a new genre—the American summer novel—which uses summer resorts as settings for the action and which was adopted by some of the most popular authors of the period, including William Dean Howells and Stephen Crane.
The book is part of the series Studies on Print Culture and the History of the Book from the University of Massachusetts Press.
“So many of the practices we engage in as summer reading today—checking the lists of the best summer reads that come out in June or indulging in a paperback potboiler we wouldn’t read otherwise—have their roots in the nineteenth century,” Harrington-Lueker says. “This project is a kind of back-to-the-future. Some of the same conversations about escapist fiction vs. serious summer reading are still going on today.”
“Fiction for Idle Summer Days: Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and the Marketing of Summer Reading,” Nineteenth Century Studies, vol. 26 (Feb. 2017), pp. 219-244.
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The Man Time Forgot: A Tale of Genius, Betrayal, and the Creation of Time Magazine, J-History (Spring 2008)