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Fever Reading
Affect and Reading Badly in the Early American Public Sphere
Michael Millner



Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

University of New Hampshire Press
2012 • 216 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - American

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-243-4
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-242-7

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-244-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Cloth edition is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)



“This study by Millner examines the epidemic of ‘fever reading’ that swept through the United States in the late-18th and mid-19th centuries. . . . .Millner examines three archives of popular, late antebellum ‘bad reading’ material—obscenity, scandal papers, and religious fictions—forms of literature that produce an emotional response in the reader. He looks at how this type of ‘affective reading,’ which he argues predominates in our current media-saturated culture, has as much power to shape the public sphere as did the rational-critical reading promoted in the early American republic. . . . Recommended.”—Choice

An intricate account of how the early U.S. public sphere was shaped by debates over “good” and “bad” forms of reading, including pornographic reading, scandal reading, and religious reading

Drawing on a rich archive of scandal chronicles, pornography, medical journals, religious novels, and popular newspapers, as well as more canonical sources, Michael Millner examines the panics and paranoia associated with “bad reading” in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the Civil War. Weaving into his analysis a model of emotion recently developed in cognitive psychology, he provides the back-history to our present-day debates about “bad” reading and shows how these debates—both in the past and in the present—are in part about the shape of the public sphere itself.

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Endorsements:

Fever Reading is a tremendously interesting and worthwhile book that brings timely interdisciplinary questions to long-standing discussions about democracy, the constitution of the public sphere, and developing norms of self-disciplining citizenship.”—Dana D. Nelson, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English and American Studies, Vanderbilt University

“In Fever Reading, Millner uses the specifics of print culture to illuminate the more nebulous recesses of the public sphere just as he turns to institutional and material conditions of the public sphere to provide considerable insight into the varied modes of reading in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His argument is direct and assertive, as he suggests how bad readings—excessive attachment, impassioned absorption, and affective responses—exercise a certain virtue in preparing citizens for the stir and commotion of democratic public life.”—Russ Castronovo, Dorothy Draheim Professor of English and American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison



MICHAEL MILLNER is an assistant professor of American studies and English at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.






Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:57:39 -0500