The Labor of Words
Literary Professionalism in the Progressive Era

Christopher P. Wilson


“A fascinating book . . . Wilson analyzes how each man responded, for his own reasons and in his own ways, to the literary professionalism of the time and how all four eventually became disillusioned with their careers.”
New England Quarterly

“Wilson’s book is less a reinvention than it is a reenvisioning. . . . In a compact chronicle and analysis he reveals how newspapers, literary journals, and book publishing adapted to a revolutionary economics challenging the genteel manners of the Gilded Age and initiated a highly competitive, engineered mass-marketing of news, information, and fiction.”
Modern Fiction Studies

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In the three decades after 1885, a virtual explosion in the nation’s print media—newspaper tabloids, inexpensive magazines, and best-selling books—vaulted the American writer to unprecedented heights of cultural and political influence. The Labor of Words traces the impact of this mass literary marketplace on Progressive era writers. Using the works and careers of Jack London, Upton Sinclair, David Graham Phillips, and Lincoln Steffens as case studies, Christopher P. Wilson measures the advantages and costs of the new professional literary role and captures the drama of this transformative epoch in American journalism and letters.
Page count: 268 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

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Christopher P. Wilson is professor of English at Boston College. He is the author of White Collar Fictions: Class and Social Representation in American Literature, 1885–1925 (Georgia), Cop Knowledge: Police Power and Cultural Narrative in 20th Century America, and Learning to Live with Crime: American Crime Narrative in the Neoconservative Turn.