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From Fact to Fiction: Journalism & Imaginative Writing in America (Literature/American Studies) Paperback – April 14, 1988

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0195206388 ISBN-10: 019520638X

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Editorial Reviews


"I anticipate great value from this text--its scholarship, lucid prose, and particularly the vast gap of ignorance it seeks to fill, will make it a most useful and versatile choice for my course."--Raymond I. Rundus, Pembroke State University

"From Whitman and Twain to Dreiser and Dos Passos, [Fishkin] tracks American literature back to unexpected beginnings in journalism. Her sophisticated search turns a new illumination on these writers' lives."--Eugene Patterson, St. Petersburg Times

"A valuable and readable study, well worth the attention of any student of American writing."--San Francisco Chronicle

"An original, illuminating, and timely work. It reaches back to explore in vivid detail the journalistic origins of some of the greatest American writers, from Whitman to Dos Passos, then reaches forward to reflect with subtlety and sophistication on the current journalistic tendency towards fiction-making."--R.W.B. Lewis, Yale University

"No critic before Fishkin has explored at length the phenomenon of the reporter turned artist. From Fact to Fiction is a welcome initial exploration, an incisive and well-written discussion...[a] groundbreaking book."--American Quarterly

About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin teaches American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin and was Director of the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism at Yale University where she also taught American Literature.

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Product Details

  • Series: Literature/American Studies
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 14, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019520638X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195206388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,554,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin's broad, interdisciplinary research interests have led her to focus on topics including the ways in which American writers' apprenticeships in journalism shaped their poetry and fiction; the influence of African American voices on canonical American literature; the need to desegregate American literary studies; American theatre history; the development of feminist criticism; the relationship between public history and literary history; literature and animal welfare; and the challenge of doing transnational American Studies. Although much of her work has centered on Mark Twain, she has also published on writers including Gloria Anzaldua, John Dos Passos, Frederick Douglass, Theodore Dreiser, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Erica Jong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Tillie Olsen, and Walt Whitman.

Dr. Fishkin is a Professor of English and Director of the Program in American Studies at Stanford University. After receiving her B.A.from Yale College (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa), she stayed on at Yale for a masters degree in English and a Ph.D. in American Studies, and was Director of the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism there. She taught American Studies and English at the University of Texas from 1985 to 2003, and was Chair of the Department of American Studies. She is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England, where she was a Visiting Fellow, and has twice been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford's Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, was a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Japan, and was the winner of a Harry H. Ransom Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Texas.

Dr. Fishkin is the author, editor or co-editor of over forty books and has published over eighty articles, essays and reviews. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Georgian, and Italian, and has been published in English-language journals in Turkey, Japan, and Korea. She is the author of: From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America (winner of a Frank Luther Mott/Kappa Tau Alpha Award for outstanding research in journalism history) (Johns Hopkins, 1985); Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices (selected as an "Outstanding Academic Book" by Choice) (Oxford, 1993); Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture (Oxford, 1997), and Feminist Engagements: Forays Into American Literature and Culture (selected as an "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice) (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009). She is the editor of the 29-volume Oxford Mark Twain (Oxford, 1996; Paperback reprint edition, 2009), the Oxford Historical Guide to Mark Twain (Oxford, 2002), "Is He Dead?" A New Comedy by Mark Twain (University of California, 2003), Mark Twain's Book of Animals (Univerisity of California Press, 2009), and The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on his LIfe and Work (Library of America, 2010). She is also a producer of the adaptation of Twain's "Is He Dead?" which had its world debut on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in 2007, and was nominated for a Tony Award. She is the co-editor of Listening to Silences: New Essays in Feminist Criticism (Oxford, 1994); People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on Their Jewish Identity (Wisconsin, 1996); The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights in America (M.E. Sharpe, 1997); Mark Twain at the Turn of the Century, 1890-1910 (Arizona Quarterly, 2005); 'Sport of the Gods' and Other Essential Writing by Paul Laurence Dunbar (Random House, 2005), Anthology of American Literature, ninth edition (Prentice-Hall, 2006), Concise Anthology of American Literature, seventh edition (Prentice-Hall, 2010), and a special issue of African American Review devoted to the work of Paul Laurence Dunbar (autumn 2007). From 1993 to 2003 she co-edited Oxford University Press's "Race and American Culture" book series with Arnold Rampersad. She was co-founder of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman society, and has been president of the Mark Twain Circle of America and chair of the MLA Nonfiction Prose Division. She recently finished a term as President of the American Studies Association, and gave keynote talks during the last five years at national American Studies conferences in China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Her research has been featured twice on the front page of the New York Times, and in 2009 she was awarded the Mark Twain Circle's Certificate of Merit "for long and distinguished service in the elucidation of the work, thought, life and art of Mark Twain." She is t a member of the Board of Governors of the Humanities Research Institute of the University of California, and is a founding Editor of the new online Journal of Transnational American Studies [see http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/march11/fishkin-publishes-american-studies-journal-030409.html and http://humanexperience.stanford.edu/twainanimals].

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truth in reviewing: I am proud to have once known the author in high school, but that was a distant time, another place. It is coincidental that she has become a preeminent interpreter of our literary and cultural heritage and I have become a consumer of her kind of information. I would have picked up this book and enjoyed it no matter who wrote it.

Originally published in 1989, the award-winning FROM FACT TO FICTION remains a fresh and original study of five major American literary figures who leaped the seeming divide between journalism and imaginative writing: Whitman, Twain, Dreiser, Hemingway and Dos Passos. Of the five, all but Dos Passos began as journalists committed to telling the truth of human experience and then went on to find another way to tell it through poetry and fiction. Dos Passos, the Harvard graduate who was producing fiction and poetry all along, really did not come into his own with the USA trilogy until after his magazine career covering Spain and, especially, the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Against a back drop of American journalism history, the author closely reads how factual reporting influenced the writers' later imaginative work. In the epilogue, she contemplates that while journalistic techniques have successfully contributed to some of our enduring creative literature, the pursuit of truth has not been served by journalists who invented stories and tried to pass them off as factual. The Janet Cook scandal had recently broken when the book was written.

The author is a gifted writer who adheres to the rigor of scholarship but writes engagingly in a way that general readers can enjoy. She understands that our American literary heritage belongs to everyone. Her reading of the classics brings them closer and stirs wonder.
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From Fact to Fiction: Journalism & Imaginative Writing in America (Literature/American Studies)
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