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Trysh Travis
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL 32611-0001)
Reading Matter: Books, Bookmen, and the Creation of Mid-Century American Liberalism, 1930-1980

A book-length history of American trade book publishing in the mid-20th century.

Reading Matters is a cultural and literary history of American trade book publishing, which unfolds on three levels. At its most basic, it is an institutional history, examining the publishing industry's efforts to modernize its rather Victorian business practices and align them with the new media and policy landscape taking shape at mid-century. Against this backdrop, it explores the professional identity of the publishers who liked to call themselves "bookmen," and charts their struggles for cultural authority in an increasingly technocratic world. One way in which they bid for that authority was to cast themselves as stewards of democracy, using books and reading to safeguard the nation against the sinister illiberalisms of the period-- fascism, communism, and "the mass mind." This explication of the way publishers and publishing contributed to the distinctive liberal culture (and institutions) of the post-war US is the book's third and largest contribution.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017