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Nineteenth-Century Publishers and the Birth of the Beach Read

July 9 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

A prominent nineteenth-century preacher branded summer reading as “literary poison in August.” Today, though, the practice is celebrated as lists like O magazine’s “Best Summer Reads” take center stage. Based on the new book, Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading (February 2019), this talk explores the birth of the “beach read” and the practice of summer reading in the nineteenth century, tracing the ways in which readers, authors, and publishing houses came to frame summer reading not as a disreputable indulgence, but as a respectable pastime especially for the woman reader.


Author Bio:

Donna Harrington-Lueker is a professor in the Department of English and Communications at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. A former magazine writer and editor, her research interests include nineteenth-century print culture, women’s magazines, and the alternative press. Her academic work has appeared in the Keats-Shelley Journal, Journalism History, and Nineteenth Century Studies. Her study of popular summer reading, Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading (University of Massachusetts Press 2019), draws upon letters, diaries, archival materials, and an array of 19th-century popular novels set at summer resorts to show how the practice of summer reading takes shape in nineteenth century. She received her bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, and her master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

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July 9
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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