Dissertation Update #3: The Book of the Month Club

I’ve gotten my Bourdieu (it turns out it wasn’t poached, but misdelivered to the right house on the wrong street). It is looming rather smugly over me on the shelf.

I’ve been listening to Amy Hungerford’s undergraduate course on American novels post-1945. This is possible through a new Yale University initiative to make several of their courses available online–syllabi, audio and video. The first book she tackles is Richard Wright’s Black Boy and she tells the fascinating story of how the Book of the Month Club, which published it, dramatically influenced it editorially.

This dovetails nicely with one of my current reading projects, Janice Radway’s A Feeling for Books, which starts off with an anthropological mission to The Book of the Month Club just as the realities of modern publishing were catching up to it. At least I think that’s how things will turn out–I’m only in Part I.

Curious, I tried accessing the Book of the Month Club website. They’re still a going concern though from what I gathered on news sites the new owner, an outfit called Direct Brands, is cutting staff.

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