Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Katherine Saunders Nash

Second Advisor

Eric Garberson

Third Advisor

Jamie Mahoney

Fourth Advisor

Jason Coats


This dissertation advances a new theory of the editor. Editors are pervasively influential for shaping our evaluations of all kinds of work, from literature, to news, to scholarship, and beyond. I test my theory on editorial influence in little magazines, providing close readings, recovering historical contexts, and identifying a wide variety of rhetorical affordances available to little magazines’ editors. I draw on rhetorical narrative theory, most especially the “implied author” concept, which I build on in order to theorize an “implied editor.” I furthermore demonstrate that understanding the authored and edited texts as distinct is important for teasing apart the full breadth of editorial work.

This dissertation also proposes a new model of editorship. My model captures (1) the role of the editor, which is a simultaneously author- and audience-oriented role; (2) the importance of poetics; and (3) the dual-streamed creative role of editors. As such, my model captures dynamics not noted elsewhere and enables us to address such questions as: (1) How does editorship differ from authorship? (2) How can we think of the relationship among author, editor, and audience? and (3) How does the ethics of editorship differ from that of authorship?

This dissertation further tests my model in conversation with a contemporary little magazine, issue 23 of A Public Space. In so doing, I explore how APS’s editor uses editorial textual resources, some of which overlap with authorial textual resources and some of which diverge from them. I also test my theory against the editorial role in Harlem Renaissance little magazines to elucidate the distinctive ways in which editors manifest their respective magazines’ purposes, both implicitly and explicitly. In so doing, these editors reveal why we must view the magazines as distinct and holistic entities with potentially competing priorities rather than merely collections of (then) up-and-coming writers and their discrete works. My model of editorship highlights Fire!!’s complex editorial significance. My theory of editorship and its application to these little magazines demonstrates the significance of editorship, particularly in relation to the crafting of uniquely edited texts.


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