Intimacy in print: literary celebrity and public interiority in nineteenth-century American literature Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Rempe, Karah Elizabeth
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This dissertation explores the ways in which authors, editors, and readers negotiated conflicting desires for intimacy and privacy during a period of mass media expansion in the antebellum United States. Mass production and distribution of texts, especially in the turbulent world of periodicals, radically altered the conditions of authorship in the United States by providing the infrastructure for an emerging mass culture that sustained a new form of national literary celebrity. Although the burgeoning antebellum print landscape enabled innovative editors and literary celebrities to reach a record number of American readers, the increasingly impersonal public sphere fueled a sense of alienation among expanding readerships. The growing distance between authors and readers prompted many readers to seek access to the private lives of authors by reading their published works. As a result, authors were compelled to, as Nathaniel Hawthorne observed sardonically, serve up their own hearts delicately fried, with brain-sauce, as a tidbit for their beloved public. Authors and readers were engaged in a public exchange of intimacy that forced authors to police their personal boundaries during the period in which they became most remote from their reading publics. This paradoxical intimacy in print characterizes the public interiority that celebrity authors offered readers. Focusing on the affective component of author-reader relationships, the project considers how changes in print production, distribution, and circulation generated a new and often unnerving market for intimacy between authors and readers. Intimacy in Print presents a new perspective on the rise of literary celebrity in nineteenth-century America by exploring the interplay between authors' public interiority in print, editorial manipulation, readers' desire for intimate exchange, and each party's complex responses to the changing literary and cultural landscape.
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  • In Copyright
  • Richards, Eliza
  • Gura, Philip F.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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