Transatlantic Reprinting as National Performance: Staging America in London Magazines, 1839-1852

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This essay examines three “American” magazines published in mid-nineteenth-century London: the American Miscellany (1839-40), the Great Western (1842), and the American Magazine (1851-52). These magazines staged a fantasy of a unified, national and white American culture that regional print cultures and sectional tensions over slavery rendered impossible within the United States itself. They fashioned this fantasy through dialogue with Yankee comedy (an American form constructed through transatlantic circulation), through the theatricality, materiality and composite form of the magazine, and by transforming regional texts into national culture through transatlantic reprinting. Through histories of these magazines, this essay theorizes magazine reprinting as performance, arguing that performance theory helps to conceptualize transatlantic reprinting and its cultural work, and to understand why these magazines ultimately failed as organs of national culture. Additionally, it suggests that magazines published outside the United States illuminate the relationship between periodical circulation and the development of American nationhood in the antebellum era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-924
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number4
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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