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By Leon Jackson

Traditionally, students of authorship in antebellum the United States have approached their topic during the lens of professionalization, exploring the ways that writing moved clear of amateurism and into the capitalist market. The company of Letters breaks new floor by way of not easy the dominant professionalization version, with its imaginative and prescient of a unmarried literary industry. Leon Jackson indicates how antebellum authors participated in quite a few diverse economies together with patronage, charity, present alternate, and competition—each of which had its personal ideas and reciprocities, its personal ethics and trade rituals, and occasionally even its personal currencies. reading quite a few canonical and non-canonical authors, together with ladies, slaves, and artisans, and drawing on theoretical methods from anthropology, sociology, social historical past, and literary feedback, Jackson finds authors to were social brokers whose acts of authorial trade concerned them in dense webs of group. The decisive transformation of the antebellum interval, he concludes, used to be no longer from amateurism to professionalism, yet, relatively, from socially embedded alternate to impersonally performed business.

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