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Just published—The Readex Report: Mohandas Gandhi, "The Coquette," and Andrew Jackson (September 2014)

Posted on 09/23/2014

IN THIS ISSUE: How Gandhi's South African newspaper gave readers pause; the far-reaching impact of literary heroine handles; and the methods critics and rivals used to try and fell Old Hickory.

Slow Reading the News: Gandhi’s Philosophical Experiments with His South African Newspaper
By Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand

During his South African years (1893-1914), Mohandas Gandhi started a printing press and a newspaper, Indian Opinion. One of the world’s great intellectual archives, Indian Opinion constitutes an experiment with reading and writing that fed into Gandhi’s ideas on satyagraha or “passive resistance.”

Writing in an age of vertiginous acceleration via telegraph, train and steamship, Gandhi grappled with an industrializing information order in which readers were bombarded with ever more reading matter. In this context, Gandhi saw reading and writing as ways of managing the tempos of the industrial pressure. Such strategies questioned the relationship of speed with efficiency, a link that lay at the heart of satyagraha and its critiques of industrial modernity. > Full Story

Bay Mares, Coquettes, and Plumage: Naming and Novel Celebrity
By Jennifer Harris, Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo

For most present-day racetrack goers, it seems unlikely that a horse named Eliza Wharton might cause a flash of recognition, a knowing smile, or a startle at the potential impropriety. But for nineteenth-century racing fans, this was not the case.

“Eliza Wharton” was the heroine of Hannah Webster Foster’s 1797 best-selling novel, The Coquette, loosely based on a New England scandal of the previous decade involving Elizabeth Whitman, the daughter of a well-known minister in Hartford, Connecticut. The novel’s heroine, likewise a minister’s daughter, spurns the advances of a rather staid minister, only to succumb to the seductive wiles of a well-known rake, fall pregnant, and flee her parents’ home .... > Full Story

Frontiersman or Southern Gentleman? Newspaper Coverage of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 Presidential Campaign
By Mark Cheathem, Associate Professor of History, Cumberland University

During the 1828 presidential election, Andrew Jackson came under attack for a number of reasons: his violent temper, his execution of U.S. militia and foreign nationals during the 1810s, and even the questionable circumstances of his marriage to his wife, Rachel. Often overlooked was the question about Jackson’s southern identity. During the final six months of the 1828 campaign, newspapers across the nation were filled with attacks and counterattacks about whether Jackson fit the expectations of a southern planter.

Two main questions about Jackson’s southern identity drew the attention of the nation’s media: Old Hickory’s slave mastery and his support of southern disunionism. Critics highlighted accusations that Jackson had been a slave trader prior to the War of 1812… > Full Story

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