Competing for the reader : the writer/editor relationship in nineteenth-century American literature

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Heidi M. Hanrahan (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Karen Kilcup

Abstract: "This dissertation examines this back-and-forth dynamic between nineteenth-century American authors and their editors, showing the ways that a heterogeneous group of non-elite individuals collaborated and competed with editors from the cultured and educated white middle/upper classes to initiate and continue important, often controversial discussions of literature and its role in the projects of national reform and redemption. Each editor and writer pair I examine show a thorough engagement in various facets of these projects, whether focused on gender, class, race, or aesthetics. Clearly such partnerships, in which the editor provided a voice of authority, respectability, and authentication for the writer, were absolutely necessary for initial public acceptance and recognition of the new ideas each writer advances. Nevertheless, I show the ways that these individuals challenged the traditional hierarchies and chains of influence from editor to writer. I point to the (sometimes covert) competition for the reader, as each side claimed the ultimate voice of authority. As my chapters illustrate, writers often wrote back to and resisted the models, conventions, and assumptions their editors imposed on their works. Additionally, influence clearly worked both ways, as the editors responded to the authors' texts in their own writing in a continual tug-of-war over the reader's attention and loyalty. Ultimately, I argue for a new and more fluid definition of editorship in the nineteenth century - one that emphasizes a circular and dialogic model of influence and resistance, as writer and editor continually switch roles as they respond to each other in order to emerge as the voice of authority and authenticity to readers on the very issues that concerned the country throughout the nineteenth century, most importantly the questions of national reform and redemption. "--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2005
nineteenth-century, American authors, editors, literature, controversy, traditional hierarchies, readers
American literature--19th century
Editors--United States--19th century
Authors, American--19th century
Authors, American--19th century--correspondence

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