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The Oprah Affect- Critical Essays on Oprah's Book Club


									I read The Oprah Affect: Critical Essays on Oprah's Book Club, I found myself
disagreeing vigorously with many of the authors in this collection. I frequently caught
myself talking to the text, articulating responses to points of view with which I took
issue. This not only had the effect of keeping me reading, but it also Tag Heuer
Replica made me feel very much as though I was participating in a discussion about
Oprah's Book Club rather than reading a series of lectures on the topic. That I found
myself so engaged with the material suggested to me that these essays might find a
useful place in my syllabus as a way to illuminate cultural literacy practices that my
students often struggle to see.
  There can be no question that Oprah Winfrey's televised book club has changed the
nature of the conversation around literacy, reading, and popular culture. Although the
club began in 1997, only recently has the academic community begun to consider the
nature and consequences of the book club in a nuanced and critical way. In The Oprah
Affect: Critical Essays on Oprah's Book Club, editors Cecelia Konchar Farr and Jaime
Harker collected and organized some of the widely disparate thinking about Oprah's
Book Club, its rules, and its implications. As Konchar Farr and Harker argue in the
Introduction to these essays, a consideration of Oprah's Book Club is first a
consideration of the affect that Oprah brings to bear upon her particular instantiation
of reading. This collection of essays considers both the nature of the club, which
privileges affect in the reading experience and the role that such privileging plays in
mediating the discussion of the text. The essays explore Oprah's Book Club as a
national and international phenomenon and its position at the nexus of literary and
digital media, colloquial and academic reading, and public and private narrative. With
limited space, I will not consider each chapter in this collection separately. Rather, I
will focus my attention on the themes I consider to have the most potential for
educators. One of the primary tasks of many of the authors is to unpack the literacy
practices of the book club itself. Kathryn Lofton ("Reading Religiously"), Yung-Hsing
Wu ("The Romance of Reading Like Oprah"), and Kelley Penfield Lewis ("The
Trouble with Happy Endings") unpack the Oprah Affect itself. These authors Fake
Watches describe the literacy practices that circumscribe the reading and talk of
Oprah's Book Club. To do so, they examine what it means to read "like Oprah," the
explicit and implicit rules for club participation, and Oprah's own narrative backdrop
to the club—the beliefs about the world that undergird book selections and frame
  These authors describe the discursive practices and authoritative ways of reading
that Oprah endorses, models, and expects during the meetings. The authors' clear
analyses of Oprah's Book Club, combined with the public accessibility of the club,
provide valuable examples of how literacy practices are shaped and the consequences
of those practices for members, viewers, and anyone with a stake in literacy.
Educators seeking ways to teach the notion of reading as a social practice,
circumscribed and directed by rules that affect the textual transaction and the social
interaction around the text will find these chapters especially valuable.
  This examination of Oprah literacies sets the stage for consideration of the
implications of these practices in terms of broader subject positions, the most
common of which is social class. Several authors devote their chapters to the
consideration of Oprah's Book Club as a mediator of social class and reading, a
lightning rod for criticisms of middlebrow reading practices, and a champion of
reading that embraces the everyday reader.

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