I'm Fitz. I'm a PhD candidate and Humanities Center Fellow at Northeastern University researching literary journalism through the lens of literary history, media studies, and digital humanities. I'm also a freelance journalist and occasional web developer. This site is home to a blog, links to some of my publications and digital projects, and my CV. Thanks for stopping by. Read more...
Recent Blog Posts
I’m excited to announce that my article “Nineteenth-century Women Writers and the Sentimental Roots of Literary Journalism” has been published in the Fall 2017 issue of Literary Journalism Studies. The abstract is below, and you can read the full article here.
Tracing the origins of literary journalism in the nineteenth century can be a daunting task because, as Norman Sims writes, the trail of literary journalism “vanishes into a maze of local publications.” And yet it is widely accepted that the trail indeed begins there, in a time when distinctions between literature and journalism were not as clearly de ned as they are today. Eventually, however, forces such as the rise of the ideal of objectivity in journalism, the shift from sentimentalism to realism in literature, and the institutionalization of both fields ensured that the two would, by the end of the century, be wrenched apart. And yet, amidst this fracturing, the hybrid genre of literary journalism was simultaneously being born. Sims points to the journalistic sketch as the origin of literary journalism in the nineteenth century, and in so doing privileges realism in his creation story. But, as this study illustrates, the story goes back a bit further, into the height of sentimentalism and a time before literature and journalism became distinct genres. This inquiry revisits this origin story with a particular eye to the role that women, writing in the sentimental mode, played in the creation of literary journalism.
The following is an adapted version of a work-in-progress talk that I gave at The Twelfth International Conference for Literary Journalism Studies in Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 11, 2017. Video here.
TL;DR: I built an online database of works of and about literary journalism, available at ljbib.jonathandfitzgerald.com.
In thinking about how to frame this particular work in progress that I’m presenting here today, as well as the larger work that it is a part of (namely, my dissertation), I realized that they are both responses to particular challenges. Let me explain. When I began my study of literary journalism, I arrived first, as I’m sure many others did as well, at Norman Sims’ seminal book True Stories. In lieu of a master class on literary journalism, this book serves the purpose for many of us.
The following is a companion to a paper that Ryan Cordell and I will be presenting at the upcoming ALA 2016 Symposium, The American Short Story: An Expansion of the Genre. Our paper is titled “Vignettes: Micro-Fictions in the Nineteenth Century Newspaper” and in it we discuss the vignette as an essential genre in antebellum American letters, both influential in the development of sentimental fiction and a precursor to the prose writing later styled “literary journalism.” In preparation for the presentation, I’ve been computationally classifying vignettes in an effort to affirm their hybrid status.
We entered into this project with the notion of vignette as hybrid genre and much of my effort to classify genre within our corpus has been an attempt to bring to the surface some of these harder to classify genres. In an effort, then, to consider the hybrid nature of the vignette, I’ve been attempting to use computational classification methods to place it on a spectrum between news and fiction.
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