Periodical publics: Magazines and literary networks in post-Revolutionary America

Date of Completion

January 2009


History, United States




Periodical Publics investigates the twenty American magazines produced between 1783 to 1792. Using the magazine medium as a window, this study seeks to expand our understanding of American society and culture in the post-Revolutionary era. Focusing on networks, I identify the different and overlapping connections that formed as authors, publishers, printers, and editors took part in acts of textual presentation, periodical publication, literary collaboration, and learned investigation. My study also examines the close ties linking magazines with such other sites of cultural production as literary societies, museums, and the theater. Magazines contributed to a rich world of intellectual and social exchanges by fostering local and regional cultures. Thus, unlike the scholarship that views magazines from the perspective of nation formation, I foreground smaller spaces of textual exchange. Magazine proprietors and editors in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston may have used nationalist rhetoric in their publications, but this "provincial nationalism" worked on the ground to promote not one republic but multiple publics. My dissertation therefore challenges those who view the 1780s and 1790s from an exceptionalist standpoint and judge culture by its capacity to create uniquely American subjectivities. ^