Catalogue


Well-read lives : how books inspired a generation of American women /
Barbara Sicherman.
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2010.
description
380 p.
ISBN
0807833088 (alk. paper), 9780807833087 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2010.
isbn
0807833088 (alk. paper)
9780807833087 (alk. paper)
contents note
Reading Little women -- Women and the new cultural landscape of the Gilded Age -- Young women's ways of reading -- (Reading as) a family affair : the Hamiltons of Fort Wayne -- Reading and ambition : M. Carey Thomas and female heroism -- Working her way through culture : Jane Addams and literature's dual legacy -- Hull-House as a cultural space -- New books, new lives : Jewish immigrant women, reading, and identity -- With pen and voice : Ida B. Wells, race, literature, and politics.
catalogue key
7092644
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, Sicherman offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in America's Gilded Age who lost--and found--themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them. She argues that withLittle Women's Jo March often serving as a youthful model of independence, girls and young women created communities of learning, imagination, and emotional connection around literary activities in ways that helped them imagine, and later attain, public identities. Sicherman discusses Edith & Alice Hamilton, Jane Addams, Rose Cohen, Ida B. Wells, and others.
Flap Copy
In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, Sicherman offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in America's Gilded Age who lost--and found--themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them. She argues that with Little Women 's Jo March often serving as a youthful model of independence, girls and young women created communities of learning, imagination, and emotional connection around literary activities in ways that helped them imagine, and later attain, public identities. Sicherman discusses Edith & Alice Hamilton, Jane Addams, Rose Cohen, Ida B. Wells, and others.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-09-01:
Well-Read Lives is a beautifully crafted monograph by an emeritus professor of American institutions and values on the effect that reading had on the lives of women in the generation following the Civil War. Sicherman's thesis is that reading gave young women a vehicle for exploring feelings and identities unavailable to them in the private sphere. Through reading, which occurred individually and collectively (e.g., study clubs, families reading together), young women began to consider avenues for accomplishment outside the home, and many women followed these impulses to their logical conclusions by becoming educators and social reformers. Sicherman (emer., Trinity College) follows a case-study approach, which she suggests is crucial to understanding the relationship between readers and texts. Chapters are organized around the various case studies, which include responses of native-born upper-class women and Jewish immigrant women to the novel Little Women; efforts of less privileged women to attain literacy; an extended, mainly female family in Indiana, members of which later became distinguished in the public sphere; a Quaker who later became a college president; and Jane Addams, founder of Hull House. Sicherman's work is well documented, with extensive notes and an excellent bibliography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. L. K. Speer Southeast Missouri State University
Reviews
Review Quotes
" Well-Read Lives provides a highly accessible, engaging examination of the latent potential in the female literary culture of the Gilded Age….This is a rewarding look into the power of reading to transform lives." - H-Net Reviews
" Well-Read Lives deftly balances the big picture of Gilded Age literary culture with the specificity and uniqueness of its individual subjects. With nuance and insight, Sicherman makes a convincing case that private reading practices had a profound impact on Progressive women's public endeavors." - Journal of American History
" Well-Read Lives provides a highly accessible, engaging examination of the latent potential in the female literary culture of the Gilded Age .This is a rewarding look into the power of reading to transform lives." - H-Net Reviews
" Well-Read Lives provides a highly accessible, engaging examination of the latent potential in the female literary culture of the Gilded Age'_¦.This is a rewarding look into the power of reading to transform lives." - H-Net Reviews
"The research behind the individual case studies is thorough and rigorous, and the writing style is engaging. . . . A significant contribution to our understanding of the role of books in the lives of young American women of the period under consideration." - Library & Information History
"This book offers a wonderful look into the reading lives of many women and should be praised for that contribution." - Southern Historian
"[Sicherman] writes beautifully, evoking the culture and milieu of late 19th-century America with sensitivity and great depth. . . . Sicherman's scholarship is particularly laudable because of the nuance she brings to the individual women portrayed. Hers is not a volume of sweeping generalizations, but of careful representations of the desires, values, and personal mythologies each of these women cultivated to become the kind of heroine each desired to be." -Books & Culture
"Sicherman's analysis deepens our understanding of the nature of reading itself, exuding some of the very magic that books clearly held for these young women. . . . An extraordinary contribution to the history of the book, to women's history, and to our understanding of reading's power as a cultural resource for change." - Legacy
"[Sicherman] writes beautifully, evoking the culture and milieu of late 19th-century America with sensitivity and great depth. . . . Sicherman's scholarship is particularly laudable because of the nuance she brings to the individual women portrayed. Hers is not a volume of sweeping generalizations, but of careful representations of the desires, values, and personal mythologies each of these women cultivated to become the kind of heroine each desired to be." - Books & Culture
"Beautifully written and meticulously researched." - Publishing Research Quarterly
"Each chapter in this book could serve as a stand-alone essay for the reader who was looking for resources on these particular women. . . . A valuable resource for understanding Progressive Era women's culture." - Women and Social Movements in the United States
"Great depth of scholarship and insightful analysis. With its wonderful readability it should also appeal to a more general audience, and will contribute to contemporary conversations about reading in a way that helps us avoid uninformed comparisons between reading today and in the past." - SHARP: Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing
"An elegant historical survey. . . . Sicherman's well-chosen examples . . . make a good case for her argument that reading mattered crucially." - American Historical Review
"An important book for those interested in issues of gender, literacy, or nineteenth-century American life. . . . A fine example of how historical scholarship about these issues can move between specific case studies and generalized trends or patterns." - Clio
"Beautifully evokes a world in which women read to construct identity and build community. . . . Elegantly written essays . . . represent a significant contribution to the history of print culture in America. . . . [An] invaluable monograph." - Indiana Magazine of History
"[A] deeply researched and beautifully crafted study. . . . It represents an important contribution to women's and gender studies." - Modern Intellectual History
"A beautifully crafted monograph. . . . Well documented, with extensive notes and an excellent bibliography. . . . Highly recommended." -Choice
"A beautifully crafted monograph. . . . Well documented, with extensive notes and an excellent bibliography. . . . Highly recommended." - Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, Barbara Sicherman offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in America's Gilded Age who lost--and found--themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them. Some women, like Edith and Alice Hamilton, M. Carey Thomas, and Jane Addams, grew up in households filled with books, while less privileged women found alternative routes to expressive literacy. Jewish immigrants Hilda Satt Polacheck, Rose Cohen, and Mary Antin acquired new identities in the English-language books they found in settlement houses and libraries, while African Americans like Ida B. Wells relied mainly on institutions of their own creation, even as they sought to develop a literature of their own.
Library of Congress Summary
In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, the author offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in Americas Gilded Age who lost and found themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them. Some women, like Edith and Alice Hamilton, M. Carey Thomas, and Jane Addams, grew up in households filled with books, while less privileged women found alternative routes to expressive literacy. Jewish immigrants Hilda Satt Polacheck, Rose Cohen, and Mary Antin acquired new identities in the English-language books they found in settlement houses and libraries, while African Americans like Ida B. Wells relied mainly on institutions of their own creation, even as they sought to develop a literature of their own. It is the author's contribution to show that however the skill of reading was acquired, under the right circumstances, adolescent reading was truly transformative in constructing female identity, stirring imaginations, and fostering ambition. With Little Women's Jo March often serving as a youthful model of independence, girls and young women created communities of learning, imagination, and emotional connection around literary activities in ways that helped them imagine, and later attain, public identities. Reading themselves into quest plots and into male as well as female roles, these young women went on to create an unparalleled record of achievement as intellectuals, educators, and social reformers. This study reveals the centrality of the eras culture of reading and sheds new light on these women's Progressive-Era careers.
Bowker Data Service Summary
In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, Barbara Sicherman offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in America's Gilded Age who lost and found themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Books and Livesp. 1
Young Women's Reading in the Gilded Age
Reading Little Womenp. 13
Women and the New Cultural Landscape of the Gilded Agep. 37
Young Women's Ways of Readingp. 57
Privileged Readers
(Reading as) A Family Affairp. 79
The Hamiltons of Fort Wayne
Reading and Ambitionp. 109
Female Heroism
Working Her Way through Culturep. 135
Literature's Dual Legacy
Reading Without Privilege
Hull-House as a Cultural Spacep. 165
New Books, New Livesp. 193
Jewish Immigrant Women, Reading, and Identity
With Pen and Voicep. 221
Race, Literature, and Politics
Epilogue: From Then to Nowp. 251
Notesp. 259
Selected Bibliographyp. 337
Acknowledgmentsp. 357
Indexp. 361
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem