ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance
"Pressing the Press; or, The Latest Scholarly Uses of Nineteenth-Century Periodicals"
Events such as the 1991 founding of the Research Society of American Periodicals (RSAP) and the appearance of American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography testify to an increasing academic interest in these ephemeral texts. This essay reviews seven recently published full-length scholarly studies focusing on nineteenth-century American magazines and newspapers, works authored or compiled by Kathleen Diffley, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Frankie Hutton, Charles Johanningsmeier, Michael Lund, Kenneth M. Price, Susan Belasco Smith, Ann Russo, and Cheris Kramarae. Most apparent in this survey is the wide variety of uses to which these writers have put periodical texts and the way in which these uses--whether pedagogical, culturally historical, revisionist, or other--consequently shape the format of the studies themselves. From constitutional contextualization of forgotten Civil War stories, to reconsideration of clearly canonical writers within the not-so-well-known pages of the periodicals in which they often first appeared, to explorations into the not-yet-canonical realms of the black and radical women's presses, to the teaching of serialized fiction--all of these books illustrate a healthy interest in alternative forms of nineteenth-century print culture, as well as the provocative pull of the periodicals themselves.