Network Publications

Erica Brown and Mary Grover (eds) Middlebrow Literary Cultures: the Battle of the Brows, 1920-1960 (Palgrave, November 2011)

This collection of essays, the third output of the Middlebrow Network, aims to demonstrate that the middlebrow matters. This literary 'middle ground', once dismissed by academia as insignificant and uninteresting, is the site of powerful anxieties about cultural authority that continue to this day. These essays examine the prejudices and aspirations at work in the 'battle of the brows', and show that the middlebrow is central to our understanding of the literary landscape as a whole.


Erica Brown and Mary Grover: 'Middlebrow Matters'

Part I: Cultural Contexts

  • Janet Galligani Casey: 'Middlebrow Reading and Undergraduate Teaching: The Place of the Middlebrow in the Academy'
  • Caroline Pollentier: 'Configuring Middleness: Bourdieu, l'Art Moyen, and the Broad-Brow'

Part II: Taste-Makers and Print Cultures

  • Adrian Bingham 'Cultural Hierarchies and the Inter-War British Press'
  • John Baxendale: 'Priestley and the Highbrows'
  • John Shapcott: 'Aesthetics for Everyman: Arnold Bennett's Evening Standard Columns'
  • Jonathan Wild: 'A Strongly Felt Need': Wilfred Whitten/John O'London and the Rise of the New Reading Public'


  • Victoria Kingham: 'The Excluded Middle: Cultural Polemics and Magazines in America, 1915-1933'
  • Sharon Hamilton: ''Intellectual in its looser sense': Reading Mencken's Smart Set'
  • Joan Shelley Rubin: 'Middlebrow Authorship, Critical Authority, and Autonomous Readers in Postwar America: James Gould Cozzens, Dwight Macdonald, and By Love Possessed'

Part III: Categorisation and Valuation

  • Candida Rifkind: 'The Returning Reader: Serial Middlebrow and Mazo de la Roche's Jalna Novels'
  • Kristin Bluemel: 'Illustrating Mary Poppins: Visual Culture and the Middlebrow'
  • Nick Hubble: 'Imagism, Realism, Surrealism: Middlebrow Transformations in the Mass-Observation Project'
  • Nicola Humble: 'The Queer Pleasures of Reading: Camp and the Middlebrow'

Faye Hammill: Afterword

The Middlebrow - Within or Without Modernism

This special issue of the journal Modernist Cultures is the second output of the Middlebrow Network.

Edited by Sophie Blanch and Melissa Sullivan
Volume 6.1
May 2011


  • Melissa Sullivan and Sophie Blanch: 'The Middlebrow - Within or Without Modernism'
  • Ann Ardis: 'Making Middlebrow Culture, Making Middlebrow Literary Texts Matter: The Crisis, Easter 1912'
  • Nicola Humble: 'Sitting Forward or Sitting Back: Highbrow v. Middlebrow Reading'
  • Catherine Clay: '"WHAT WE MIGHT EXPECT - If the Highbrow Weeklies Advertized like the Patent Foods": Time and Tide, Advertising and the "Battle of the Brows"'
  • Melissa Sullivan: '"I return with immense relief to old friend Time and Tide": Middlebrow Expansions in E. M. Delafield's Fiction and Journalism'
  • Catherine Keyser: 'Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker "In Broadway Playhouses": Middlebrow Theatricality and Sophisticated Humour'
  • Chiara Briganti and Kathy Mezei: 'Designs for Living: Female Designers, the Designing Female, Modernism and the Middlebrow'
  • Phyllis Lassner: 'Testing the Limits of the Middlebrow: The Holocaust for the Masses'


Investigating the Middlebrow

Investigating the Middlebrow is an issue of Working Papers on the Web, a peer-reviewed web journal hosted by Sheffield Hallam University. Visit the website for free access to this and other editions:

Edited by Erica Brown
ISSN 1478-3703
Volume 11
July 2008

This is the first output of the AHRC-funded Middlebrow Network, bringing together for the first time essays analysing the loaded and disreputable term 'middlebrow', and the types of literature it purports to represent.



Arts and Humanities Research CouncilUniversity of Strathclyde Sheffield Hallam University

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