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Ellen Gruber Garvey.

I am a Professor in the English Department of New Jersey City University, where I also teach in the Honors Program and in Women's and Gender Studies.


I'm a cultural historian who specializes in print culture from the nineteenth century to the present. My research uses archival exploration and literary evidence to study historical reading and publishing practices and material culture. I'm interested in how people have managed information. I am a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's doctoral program in English. 

My most recent book, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford UP, 2013), has received four awards: the Transdisciplinary Book Award, for a nonfiction work that exemplifies transdisciplinary, socially engaged humanities-based scholarship, from the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University;   the Waldo Gifford Leland Award for writing of superior excellence and usefulness in the field of archival history, theory, or practice, from the Society of American Archivists; Highly Commended Award, DeLong Book History Book Prize from the Society for Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP);  and honorable mention from the EBSCOhost/Research Society for American Periodicals (RSAP) Book Prize. My previous book, The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture (Oxford UP, 1996) won SHARP's Book History book prize.

Writing with Scissors tells about how m en and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks – the ancestors of Google and blogging. From Mark Twain to Susan B. Anthony, African American janitors to farmwomen, abolitionists to Confederates, people cut out and pasted down their reading. Their work reveals their personal, passionate, of ten critical and always dynamic relationship to media. You can read my short piece on The Root blog, on African American scrapbooks, and you can find more about the book on the Scrapbook History blog.

I am currently writing a book on late-nineteenth century Americans' anxiety about the newspaper as a form of virtual reality. Like today's social media, it had potential to alienate readers from face-to-face community, even as it connected the nation. The book examines both cultural discourse about newspapers and their circulation and distribution. A chapter from this book is forthcoming in the collection Shadow Economies, edited by Wendy Woloson and Brian Luskey, from U Pennsylvania Press. Other articles have appeared in American Quarterly, Legacy, Studies in American Fiction, Book History, Cahiers Charles V: Histoire(s) de Livres, and Studies in American Humor, among other journals.

My writing on media includes an article on abolitionists' use of runaway slave ads as a database, “ ' facts and FACTS': Abolitionists' Database Innovations,” in Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron, edited by Lisa Gitelman; an article on the complications of promoting books, in “Ambivalent Advertising: Books, Prestige, and the Circulation of Publicity,” in A History of the Book in America, vol. 4, edited by Janice Radway and Carl Kaestle; and a multimedia article introducing students to nonmainstream publications,  â€śOut of the Mainstream and into the Streets: Small Press Magazines, the Underground Press, Zines, and Artists’ Books” in Perspectives in American Book History, edited by Scott Caspar, Joanne Chaison, Jeffrey Groves.

I have lectured in the US and in Europe on such topics as scrapbooks, women’s bicycling, magazines, billboards, women editors, and stories about slave ships.

With Jacqueline Ellis of Women's and Gender Studies, I edit the journal Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy.  

I am past President of the New York Metro American Studies Association and the Research Society for American Periodicals, whose website I initiated. Fellowships I've held include two from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. I also taught in the Netherlands for a semester as the Fulbright Walt Whitman Distinguished Lecturing Chair in American Literature.

For the spring 2015 semester I will be teaching in Paris, at Université Paris 8/St. Denis.

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