History, Law, Reviews, Sociology

The other side of nineteenth-century NYC

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Writing for the July 17 Times Higher Eduction Laurel Brake delivers an enthusiastic review of The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York—a book whose look at the provocative weeklies that proliferated in mid-nineteenth century NYC Brake notes, reveals an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the city’s history and culture. From the review:

Generically, [the “flash” papers] mostly seem to be saucily illustrated weeklies, ranging from titillating to soft porn, including simple woodcuts, more than 50 of which are reproduced here. Their distribution points (which included hawker-newsboys, saloons, oyster bars, barber shops, steamboats and theatres), sporting connections and maps and accounts of brothels suggest that most were aimed at a bachelor subculture. An exception is the Whip and Satirist, whose detailed woman’s fashion column implies that it both sought female readers and employed women writers.
Commentary and excerpts support the authors’ contention that the existence of this genre in antebellum New York establishes the city as cultural capital of the republic in low culture as well as high and indicates a dimension of this period and its press neglected in hegemonic accounts of this “Victorian” city.

Read the review on the THE website. Also, read an excerpt from the book.