Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Comparative American Studies: Following the River



I've guest edited a Special Issue of Comparative American Studies dedicated to rivers! Available here for those with institutional subscriptions. Some great work by some brilliant young scholars. Also includes my own essay on Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell's account of a summer on the Thames. That's available here.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Coming soon: Christmas Past: An Anthology of Seasonal Stories from Nineteenth-Century America


Coming in September from Louisiana State University Press! Already available for preorder on Amazon. Here's the official blurb:

As the modern celebration of Christmas took shape across the nineteenth century, American writers gave it new meaning in the pages of countless books and magazines. Now, for the first time, this rich anthology brings together some of the most significant of those seasonal stories to retell a forgotten tale of Christmases past.

From the authors who helped define a national literary culture, to the popular sentimentalists who negotiated Christmas’s position at the center of family life, to the realists who looked to reshape American letters in the wake of the Civil War, and beyond: all varieties of American writers turned to Christmas as an inevitable and potent subject during this deeply formative period in the history of American literature. In Christmas Past, Thomas Ruys Smith brings together a diverse range of voices to showcase the many ways in which Christmas was imagined across the nineteenth century, offering images that echo down to the present. The introduction that frames the anthology provides a new literary history of Christmas, contextualizing the selections and making clear the links both between them and to the wider trajectory of American literature.

And here is advance praise from some of the giants of Christmas commentary:

Christmas Past is an invaluable contribution to not just to the study of Christmas stories but to the history of nineteenth-century American literature. — Gerry Bowler, author of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas and Santa Claus: A Biography
Christmas Past, with its lucid introduction, is a lovely and broad-ranging collection of nineteenth-century Christmas stories that ably illuminates the ways in which literary imaginations inspired and guided the creation of the 'old-fashioned' American Christmas.  Penne L. Restad, author of Christmas in America: A History
An eclectic and engrossing group of Christmas tales, vignettes, and reflections from America's deep nineteenth-century literary well. . . . There is something for everybody in this collection. — Robert E. May, author of Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory 
An important contribution to the story of the American Christmas. Smith casts a wider net to include new and different voices from those most often contained in Christmas anthologies.  Tara Moore, author of Victorian Christmas in Print
Everyone believes that their own Christmas traditions are the 'real' ones, the ones that others can only palely imitate. Now, with Thomas Ruys Smith's Christmas Past, we can see that all Christmases are a series of overlapping circles of customs, beliefs, habits and stories. A work of scholarship, and also intensive poetry, Christmas Past gives us our own pasts back, and opens a path to exploring new futures.  Judith Flanders, author of Christmas: A Biography
More details soon!🎅

Friday, April 02, 2021

Louisiana Anthology Podcast

  
I also sat down with Bruce Magee, one of the hosts of the Louisiana Anthology Podcast, to discuss plenty of Mississippi River lore, framed around Sam Clemens's visit to Mardi Gras in 1859. It's available here in a variety of formats.

Massolit: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

A while ago I recorded a lecture on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Massolit - it's available here for subscribers, with a short free preview for everyone else.


Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Deep Water: Association of University Presses Design Selection


Some nice news in the midst of everything: Deep Water has just been selected by the Association of University Presses for its amazing design by Michelle Neustrom at Louisiana State University Press in its annual book, jacket and journal show - specifically in the Scholarly Typographic category. More info and other selections here.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Deep Water: More Advance Praise


One final piece of pre-publication praise for Deep Water, from Professor Sarah Churchwell, author of a number of wonderful books, most recently Behold America: A History of America First and the American Dream:
“An exemplary work of American literary history, situating Mark Twain's writing about the river that so defined it within a wider understanding of how that river culture also shaped America. Comprehensively researched, sweeping in its scope, rich in its depths, Smith's book is an authoritative - likely definitive - primer for understanding what the deep waters of 'The Mississippi' meant to Twain, and still means to American culture.”
Available December 17!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Louisiana State University Press