CFP: Oprah Winfrey and Reading (10/1/04; collection)

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Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most important influence on reading and
literacy in the past fifty years. She devotes considerable time on her
talk show to reading and talking about books, and every book she asks
her TV audience to read immediately becomes a bestseller. Furthermore,
Oprah's book club continues an ongoing literary debate in America. Its
middle-class women's readership provokes critical anxiety about the
state of American letters, and the ability of a commercialized American
culture to sustain artistic production, that has been a recurring theme
in American cultural debates since at least Van Wyck Brooks' "America's
Coming of Age." Given Oprah's importance in this long-standing culture
war, the paucity of critical work on Oprah's Book Club is surprising.

We think it's time to change that. We are seeking submissions to a
collection of essays about Oprah's Book Club. We are interested in
diverse analysis: gender and reading, the middlebrow novel, women and
book clubs, consumerism and publishing, reception studies,
investigations of publishers' interaction with the Oprah book club,
implicit politics of Oprah's book club, sex and sexuality in the book
club, the complex negotiation of race (and the appearance of racial
harmony), corporate book clubs (as opposed to consciousness-raising
personal ones in the Seventies), the book club and feminism, and
specific analysis of germinal selections and their relationship to the
larger book club.

Please send completed essays or one-page abstracts to Cecilia Konchar
Farr ( and Jaime Harker ( by
October 1, 2004. If you prefer to send a paper copy, mail one to
Jaime Harker atthe University of Mississippi, 214 Bondurant Hall,
University, MS, 38677, and Cecilia Konchar Farr at College of St.
Catherine, 2004 Randolph Ave. St. Paul MN 55105.

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Received on Fri Aug 20 2004 - 15:20:03 EDT