Novels in the News

The Reprinting of American Fiction in Nineteenth Century Periodicals
March 5, 2020 - 10:00am

Williams Hall Rm 623

This talk draws on recent experiments from the Viral Texts project investigates the republication history of novels and short fiction within the hybrid medium of the nineteenth century newspaper. Reception of fiction during the nineteenth-century could be uneven, and fiction circulated through entire novels, single chapters, or even just reprinted excerpts. In our talk we will demonstrate how the popular interests of the nineteenth-century reading public can be evidenced in the fragmentary fiction that circulated, as well as the issues editors addressed through their selection practices. This project seeks to understand not simply which novels and stories were reprinted in newspapers, but which parts of these texts circulated most widely (and which did not), and to consider what the selection of nineteenth-century fiction can tell us about readers’ cultural, political, and aesthetic ideas in the period’s largest mass medium

Ryan Cordell is Associate Professor of English at Northeastern University and a Core Founding Faculty Member in the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Cordell primarily studies circulation and reprinting in nineteenth-century American newspapers, but his interests extend to the influence of computation and digitization on contemporary reading, writing, and research. Cordell collaborates with colleagues in English, History, and Computer Science on the NEH- and ACLS-funded Viral Texts project (, which is using robust data mining tools to discover borrowed texts across large-scale archives of nineteenth-century periodicals and the Digging Into Data project Oceanic Exchanges (, a six-nation effort examining patterns of information flow across national and linguistic boundaries in nineteenth century newspapers. At Northeastern, Cordell serves as Graduate Program Director for the English Department and directs the Huskiana Experiential Letterpress Studio . Cordell is also a Senior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School and serves on the Executive Committee of the MLA's Forum on Bibliography and Scholarly Editing, as well as the Delegate Assembly, where he represents the Forum on Digital Humanities.

Avery Blankenship is a second year Masters student in the English department at Northeastern University. Her research interests include computational text analysis, digital archives, and nineteenth-century American popular fiction and domestic manuals. At Northeastern, she acts as the Digital Humanities Coordinator of the Early Caribbean Digital Archive, the Lead Archivist of the Northeastern Writing Program Digital Archive, a Research Associate for the Boston Research Center, and a Research Assistant for the Viral Texts project.