The Making of Middlebrow Culture by Joan Shelley Rubin

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The proliferation of book clubs, reading groups, "outline" volumes, and new forms of book reviewing in the first half of the twentieth century influenced the tastes and pastimes of millions of Americans. Joan Rubin here provides the first comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, the rise of American middlebrow culture, and the values encompassed by it.
Rubin centers her discussion on five important expressions of the middlebrow: the founding of the Book-of-the-Month Club; the beginnings of "great books" programs; the creation of the New York Herald Tribune's book-review section; the popularity of such works as Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy; and the emergence of literary radio programs. She also investigates the lives and expectations of the individuals who shaped these middlebrow institutions--such figures as Stuart Pratt Sherman, Irita Van Doren, Henry Seidel Canby, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, John Erskine, William Lyon Phelps, Alexander Woollcott, and Clifton Fadiman.
Moreover, as she pursues the significance of these cultural intermediaries who connected elites and the masses by interpreting ideas to the public, Rubin forces a reconsideration of the boundary between high culture and popular sensibility.

About Joan Shelley Rubin

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Joan Shelley Rubin, professor of history at the University of Rochester, is author of Constance Rourke and American Culture.
Published March 1, 1992 by The University of North Carolina Press. 439 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

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and radio programs on books, like those of Alexander Woollcott, who fostered the idea of the ``cultured person as well informed as opposed to well read.'' In Rubin's view, the aims of these cultural enterprises tended to reflect an American shift from producer to consumer, concerned not with char...

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