Wit and Wisdom: The Forgotten Literary Life of New England Villages

SKU: 9781625347381

The lyceum movement gained momentum in the decades preceding the Civil War, presenting members with the opportunity to participate in literary life and engage with the issues of the day. While urban lyceums played host to a who’s who of 19th-century intellectual life, literary societies also cropped up in thousands of villages across the nation, acting as influential sites of learning, creativity, and community engagement. In rural New England, ordinary men and women, farmers and intelligentsia, selectmen, and schoolchildren came together to write and perform poetry and witty parodies and debate a wide range of topics, from women’s rights and temperance to slavery, migration, and more.

Wit and Wisdom takes readers inside this long-forgotten tradition, providing new access to the vibrant voices, surprising talents, and understated humor on display on many a cold winter’s night. Having uncovered dozens of handwritten newspapers produced by village lyceums across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, Joan Newlon Radner proves that these close-knit groups offered a vital expression of the beliefs, ambitions, and resilience of rural New Englanders.

Author: Joan Newton Radner is professor emerita of literature at American University. Writer, historian, and professional storyteller, she holds a PhD from Harvard University and is past president of the National Storytelling Network and the American Folklore Society.
(Softcover; 272 pages)

Availability: In stock

Total $25.95

The product 'Wit and Wisdom: The Forgotten Literary Life of New England Villages' was added to your shopping cart.