Thinking Outside the Book disputes the meaning and primacy of the book as a literary, material and cultural artifact. The work I have done on my rather unlikely cohort of women writers–Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Sojourner Truth, Hannah Crafts, Augusta Evans and Mary Chesnut—functions as case studies I use to engage 21st century theories of the book and new media generally. Just at the moment when women from a variety of racial and class affiliations were bombarding the print market with their literary productions, the focal figures of my study were resisting authorial norms, publication practices and styles of literacy. Yet, despite the fact that their texts were not positioned authoritatively, they nonetheless challenge prevailing models of authorship—both then and now. Taken together, a study of their work explores the intersections of race, class, and region in the antebellum and Civil War era as fundamental and related parts of the history of the book. Each chapter positions a focal figure as both paradigmatic and problematic within the context of the publishing business. Not only a literary history, this book takes up theories of narrative, literacy, authorship, the book, and new media in connection with race, region, and gender.
Image: “Back to Your Roots” Books by Julie Dodd
Forthcoming in The Print Culture and History of the Book series from UMASS Press, 2014 http://www.umass.edu/umpress/title/thinking-outside-book