Research resources on American periodicals

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RSAP Panels at the ALA convention, May 2006 San Francisco

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RSAP panels, ALA Convention,
2007, Boston

Calls for papers for RSAP Panels at ALA 2007 in Boston

Contemporary Popular Magazines
For a session on contemporary popular magazines:  Topics may concern magazines individually or in categories (e.g., bridal, lifestyle, news), and may consider genres, departments, contributors, or editorial/textual practices. Please email a 250-word abstract along with a 2-3 sentence bio and any a/v equipment you might need to Judith Yaross Lee:
Deadline: 5 January 2007.

19th Century Periodicals in Transatlantic Context
The extensive circulation of British periodicals in 19thC America and,
especially later in the century, of American periodicals in Britain came to exert a profound influence on the development of the two nations. The
Research Society for American Periodicals invites proposals dealing with any aspect of this subject, including individual periodicals,e.g. the
Westminster Review; questions of shared concern, e.g. slavery/imperialism; cultural and literary influence, e.g. Punch and American humor; or individual writers, e.g. Henry James. Please email a 250-word abstract along with a 2-3 sentence bio to Robert J. Scholnick:
Deadline: 5 January, 2007.

Visual Culture in American Periodicals
The Research Society for American Periodicals invites proposals for a
session on visual culture in American periodicals. Topics might include:
the development of illustrations in early periodicals, intertextual
relations between verbal and visual texts, illustrators and writers as
collaborators, reading advertisements, and cover art.  Please email a
one-paragraph abstract along with a 2-3 sentence bio and any a/v equipment you might need to Patricia Okker:  Deadline:  5 January 2007.

For information on the American Literature Association convention itself, see the ALA website:

Past RSAP at ALA sessions:
May, 2006 at ALA RSAP presented 3 panels:
Periodical Comics and Cartoons
Chair: Jared Gardner, Ohio State University
1.  “The Ethnics of Comics:  Mechanisms of Ethnic Containment in Early Hearst Newspaper Comics,” Tad Suiter, University of Massachusetts Boston
2. “Illustrating Sophistication:  Esquire, Illustration and the ‘Art of Living,’” Stefan K. Cieply, University of Virginia
3. “ Interlacing Temporalities:  Sequence and Seriality in Speigelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers,” Hillary Chute, Rutgers University

Periodicals and Access:  A Roundtable Discussion
Chair:  Patricia Okker, University of Missouri-Columbia
Kevin Hearle, Independent Scholar
Jared Gardner, Ohio State University
Cynthia Patterson, University of South Florida-Lakeland
Mary Chapman, University of British Columbia
Judith Yaross Lee, Ohio University

A business meeting of RSAP will be included in this session

A Mini-Anthology of Neglected, Forgotten, or Underestimated Periodicals of the Long Nineteenth-Century: A Roundtable Discussion
Moderator: Susan Belasco, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
The Christian Recorder, Jean Lee Cole, Loyola College
Harper’s Bazar, Alice Fahs, University of California, Irvine
The Southern Illustrated News, Linda Frost, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
La Patria, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, University of California, Santa Cruz
The Liberator, Shelley Streeby, University of California, San Diego
Venus's Miscellany, Gale Temple, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

 In 2005 our we conducted two roundtables on using periodicals in research.

In 2004 our panels were:

1) Globalism and Twentieth-Century American Periodicals

  • “Modernism and the Yellow Journalism,” Sarah Wilson, University of Toronto
  • “Mimeo Fever: Sixties Small Press within a Global Context,” Nick Lawrence, SUNY at Buffalo
  • “From Grassroots to Massroots: Third Wave Feminism, Global Activism, and Marie Claire,” Jennifer Lynn Stoever, University of Southern California
  • Chair: Susan Belasco

2) Women, Real and Imagined, in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Periodicals [this panel will include the business meeting for the Research Society for American Periodicals]

  • “’Dear Matron—‘ Constructions of Women in Eighteenth-Century American Periodicals,” Lisa Logan,University of Central Florida
  • “Rooting Out the Miserable Monthlies: The Una and the Antebellum Woman’s Rights Movement,” Phyllis Cole, Penn State Delaware County
  • The Daily Alta’s UnLadylike Correspondent: Elizabeth Stoddard’s Engagement with the Public Sphere,” Dina Hagler, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Chair: Linda Frost

In 2001 our panels were:

Chair and comment: Ellen Gruber Garvey, New Jersey City University and RSAP

  1." Godey’s Lady’s Book and the Gilded Age Consumer: The Domestic Woman Enters the Marketplace," Beth Fisher, University of Iowa
  2."Dickinson as Child’s Fare: The Author Served Up in The Youth’s Companion and St.Nicholas," Ingrid Satelmajer, University of Maryland, College Park
  3."Farm Women, Agrarian Ideals, and Rural Magazines in the Progressive Era," Janet Galligani Casey, Independent Scholar

Professor Fisher pushed back the dates we usually think of in relation to the burgeoning of consumer culture in the US, and alerted us to the fact that it wasn’t a straightforward, continuous process, but zig zagged; Godey’s Lady’s Book, even as it promoted this, was full of ambivalence
about consumption -- complaining about middle class extravagance even as it advertised goods in ways that promoted it, and worrying about what too-eager participation in the marketplace as
buyers might say about women’s character.
    Professor Satelmejer nicely tossed on its head the usual practice of paying attention to magazine or newspaper publication of poems only if they precede book publication, which is of course understood as the “real” publication.”  In examining the posthumous publication ofDickinson’s poems in St. Nicholas she raised new issues of the construction of Dickinson’s reputation in the 19th century
    Professor Casey, one of the few scholars to delve into farm women’s magazines, focused on The Farmer’s Wife of the 1920s and 30s. These magazines held in tension conservative and progressive ideals for rural women; both sets of ideals were often far from real rural women’s lives, as Casey’s recovery of a wonderful scene of a character reading such a magazine in Edith Summers Kelley’s 1923 farming novel Weeds brought out.


Chair: Werner Sollors, Harvard University and RSAP

  1."A Literature of Our Own:  Ethnic Pride, American Patriotism, and Literary Culture in a Norwegian-American Magazine," Kristin A. Risley, Ohio State University
  2."'His Head in Russia and His Belly in New York': American Writing in Russian, 1880-1924" Rachel L. Rubin, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  3."The Publisher of the Foreign-Language Press as an Ethnic Leader? The Case of James V.Donnaruma and Boston’s Italian-American Community in the Interwar Years," Benedicte
Deschamps, University of Paris, and Stefano Luconi, University of Florence

Professor Risley’s paper discussed a Norwegian annual, whose title in translation is Our Western Home, in relation to its cultural work within the immigrant community, and the ways it both helped maintain a sense of Norwegian identity among its readers while presenting the Norwegian homeland as essentially timeless, and giving no attention to actual events in Norway in the present. Her paper raised issues of how this helped to frame Norway for Norwegian immigrants as existing in the past not only in relation to their personal experience, but historically.
    Professor Rubin’s paper was fascinating in its focus on the complexities of language choice and readership in different languages for a polyglot readership. She spoke on Jacob Gordin, later better known as a Yiddish playwright, who in the 1890s wrote for Russian language newspapers both in Russia and in New York. Speaking and reading Russian, for Jews in Eastern Europe, had been a way to move beyond the Pale of Settlement and take on a cosmopolitan as
well as radical political identity. Professor Rubin’s paper pointed out that in this case language was not a corollary to ethnic identity, and that the choice of language was not a binary one, not old versus new.
    Professors Deschamps and Luconi’s presentation was more in a social science mode,reminding us through their work that the work of periodicals is done not just in editors’ minds but can have concrete results at the polls. They noted that although literary scholars have started to take an interest in immigrant periodicals, historians have not. They focused on La Gazetta, an Italian American newspaper written in Italian in the interwar years in Massachusetts. The paper both supported Mussolini’s fascism, which played out as ethnic pride, and undermined its own possible political influence by selling its endorsement to the highest bidder. Professor Luconi’s research into voting records demonstrated that the paper had had little influence in this realm, and evidently relied on sources of information beyond the Italian language press. The paper alerted an audience predominantly composed of literary scholars to the possibilities of tracing a periodical’s influence through a wider web.

    Contact information:

Susan Belasco, President of RSAP

Ellen Gruber Garvey, Website editor, RSAP

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