What is the meaning of the numerous representations in material culture of literature and its authors? What happens to literature when it is commodified into such products? Is the Jane Austen beach towel containing the brilliant opening paragraph of Pride and Prejudice a cause for celebration or should one use that very towel to cry into at the triumph of marketing over reading? Famous or brand name authors are used to sell t-shirts, mugs, action figures, and countless other literary “sideshows.” Yet recent major studies into the reading habits of Americans show an absolute diminution in the reading of literature. A focus on past and present material culture associated with American and British authors, with emphasis on the successful Ernest Hemingway furniture line, illuminates a postmodern landscape where many Americans and others are more comfortable buying objects rather than reading the literature that inspired them.
|Keywords:||Material Culture, Reading, Postmodernism, Literary Sidelines|
Professor, English , School of American and International Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Mahwah, New Jersey, USA
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