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Publishing the Family (New Americanists) Paperback – 1 Dec 2001


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Review

"[A] thoughtful study . . . Howard is a shrewd critic, and her resistance to simple conclusions is almost always salutary. . . ."
--London Review of Books

"[I]ncludes revealing anecdotes about ["The Whole Family's"] evolution including insight into Freeman's plot twist, the wooing of Henry James to contribute, and Mark Twain's refusal to join in the effort. . . ."
--Publishers Weekly

"Howard looks at this experiment as a way to examine American publishing, gender relations and narrative forms at the turn of the last century, as well as the publishing house Harper Brothers which largely defined American letters at that time."
--Mighican Alumnus

"Howard illuminates particularly well the complexities of the terms 'sentimentality' and the 'New Woman, ' both rich and timely subjects. . . . [A]dmirable research and organization. . . . Copious documentary illustrations are vivid and useful."
--Publishers Weekly

""Publishing the Family" is an extraordinary achievement, dense with meticulous, carefully analyzed research and buoyed by Howard's own substantial gifts as a storyteller and wordsmith. . . . Howard's study deserves to be a defining, foundational work in American interdisciplinary scholarship."
--Claudia Stokes, "American Literature"

"The utter lucidity of Howard's argument should serve as a model for future work of interdisciplinary amplitude. . . [A] scholarly tour de force. . . . [P]robing, fearless. . . brilliant. . . . Beautifully illustrated and written with unusual grace, "Publishing the Family "is a book that students of U.S. domesticity, literary culture, and/or emotional life will want to put at the top of their reading lists."
--Barbara Ryan, H-Amstdy, H-Net Reviews

""Publishing the Family "offers a unique perspective on family, gender, and publishing in American in the early twentieth century. . . . "Publishing the Family" takes literature, publishing, and literary figures at the turn of the twentieth century, and tackles many of the cultural and social issues of this period. June Howard's contributions to our understanding of family life, gender and commerce in this period are both useful and interesting."
--Devon Hansen, "American Studies International"

"[E]xciting. . . . The book is dazzling, because it tells us that above all, interdisciplinary work is as messy as it is painstaking. . . . [C]ompelling. . . . "Publishing the Family" has many virtues, and not the least among them is that not only is it a great book, it's a great read. Howard's prose is brisk and straightforward, careful of complex ideas yet accessible to a range of readers. "Publishing the Family "is a book to be reckoned with. It should prove an invaluable model and resource for scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centures, for historians and literary critics, and for scholars of print culture more generally."
--Stephanie Foote, "Modern Fiction Studies"

"Howard's is the first extensive scholarly analysis of ["The Whole Family"], and she does an excellent job of preserving the intriguing history of its construction and interpreting its meanings. Yet this is much more than a work of literary criticism; Howard uses "The Whole Family" as a springboard for exploring a number of cultural issues of the time, including the effects of coeducational colleges, the crisis in the modern family structure, the 'new woman, ' the role of sentimentality, and the relationship between literature and commerce. She intelligently avoids making sweeping generalizations as she challenges a number of scholarly assumptions. Howard's cogent analysis of "The Whole Family" and of US culture at the time of its publication gives the reader many reasons to read this much-neglected work."
--C. Johanningsmeier, "Choice"

"June Howard's capacious study of the early-twentieth-century publishing industry combines unusually rich historical detail with a broadly informed, incisive discussion of contemporary scholarship on American fiction. This impressive book tells a finely nuanced story that includes writers both familiar and largely forgotten. Although it will be of singular interest to scholars of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century culture, Howard's broad social and cultural analysis offers fresh insight into key issues that occupy literary and cultural historians of any era. With rigor and originality, Howard explains how culture and commerce evolved together in a formative moment of American mass culture. She finds new points of entry into a remarkable range of questions, including how changing visions of the family have structured American identity, how the publishing industry's economic imperatives have shaped the form and content of fiction, and how gender differences have been encoded in models of authorship and publicity."
--Jean Marie Lutes, "ANQ"

"It might seem unlikely that a book-length study of a single literary text would be of interest to many American historians. Adding to the implausibility is that the text in question is "The Whole Family," a peculiar 'composite novel' published serially in 1907-1908 and composed of twelve chapters by twelve authors each taking the voice of a different family member. Those implausibilities make June Howard's accomplishment in" Publishing the Family" all the more impressive. She has produced an exemplary study that will interest not only literary historians of the period but also teachers and students of American cultural studies looking for a sophisticated and accessible synthetic account of the field from a literary-historical perspective. . . . [Howard] tells a gripping and often amusing story of literary collaboration and conflict among writers who, according to most standard literary histories, existed in rigorously separate spheres such as women's magazines, reformist politics, literary regionalism, James-ian modernism, and William Dean Howells's realism. It is easy to imagine "Publishing the Family" and "The Whole Family "as central texts in a course on the cultural politics of the turn of the century, a methodologies course on literary and cultural perspectives within American studies, or a still broader course on the history of the American family."
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--Glenn Hendler, "The Journal of American History"

“An engaging and ambitious work of great importance. Howard’s discussion may radically reconfigure the terms of discussion for nineteenth-century conceptions of gender roles. Valuable not only for its impressive scholarship but also for its originality and insight, "Publishing the Family" is sure to occupy a prominent place in American literary and cultural studies.”—Emory Elliott, author of "Aesthetics in a Multicultural Age"

“Howard tells an original and carefully reasoned story about the nature of American literary sentimentalism and realism and connects both to changing expectations about gendered identity and experience. In the process, she uses the phenomenon of this collaboratively authored novel to subject our commonsense assumptions about literary creativity to searching scrutiny.”—Janice Radway, author of "A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire"

"Howard tells an original and carefully reasoned story about the nature of American literary sentimentalism and realism and connects both to changing expectations about gendered identity and experience. In the process, she uses the phenomenon of this collaboratively authored novel to subject our commonsense assumptions about literary creativity to searching scrutiny."--Janice Radway, author of "A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire"

From the Back Cover

"An engaging and ambitious work of great importance. Howard's discussion may radically reconfigure the terms of discussion for nineteenth-century conceptions of gender roles. Valuable not only for its impressive scholarship but also for its originality and insight, "Publishing the Family" is sure to occupy a prominent place in American literary and cultural studies."--Emory Elliott, author of "Aesthetics in a Multicultural Age"

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, rewarding--and a good "read" 14 Jun. 2007
By Betsy Devine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What an enjoyable story--and not just one story, but multiple strands of story woven together.

The framing story involves a round-robin novel ca. 1907, one of whose co-authors was Henry James. Within this framework, June Howard explores then-popular attitudes about family, work, women, and etc. The characters and themes of the novel open one window into these issues--real lives of the multiple authors open another.

Then there were the social and financial events required to bring this novel into existence--not to mention the interplay of public and private. So many of these issues from 1907 have fascinating connections to our lives today. My own paperback of _Publishing the Family_ is full of pen underlinings and exclamation points.

This is a book full of fascinating characters, not least the character of Elizabeth Jordan.

I also deeply appreciate that June Howard can discuss race, gender, and class while assuming a reader's intelligent, sensible interest. Far too many academic authors treat these issues as if they were glowing chunks of kryptonite that might damage the morals of ignorant readers everywhere unless placated by an Author's whimpering and trembling on our behalf.

If you liked Louis Menand's book The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (which I did very much)--its intertwining of intellectual, social, and personal history--then I think you'd also enjoy June Howard's book.

Disclosure, maybe relevant? I am the goddaughter of Elizabeth Jordan (although I don't remember meeting her; she died when I was 3 months old.) I read this book because I'd heard it talked about her. And that was indeed part of my enjoyment of _Publishing the Family_, but only part of it.
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