Jun 24, 2020
Jonathan Rose is the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University. His fields of study are British history, intellectual history and the history of the book. He was the founding president of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, and has served as the president of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association. His book, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, won the Jacques Barzun Prize , the Longman History Book of the Year Prize and the British Council Prize. Other books include The Literary Churchill, A Companion to the History of the Book, and British Literary Publishing Houses 1820-1965. His most recent work is as co-editor with Mary Hammond, of the four volume Edinburgh History of Reading.
Jonathan is co-editor of Book History, which won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for the Best New Journal of 1999.
We met via Zoom to talk about his book Reader's Liberation, a fascinating narrative history of independent skeptical reading, from antiquity to present. Topics covered include defending the humanities, free expression and leaky censorship, the importance of reader reception, reading and revolution, making the Bible accessible in everyday English, the First Amendment, Great Books programs and common conversation, the disaster of 'Common Core,' Louise Rosenblatt, Clifton Fadiman and The Book of the Month Club. the positive influence of Oprah Winfrey, the drive toward literacy in Black America, Hugh Hefner and the Playboy interviews, objective versus partisan media, "native" advertising and credibility, docile students and cancel culture.