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A Dialectic With the Everyday: Communication & Cultural Politics on Oprah Winfrey's Book Club
Unformatted Document Text:  Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club 30 Notes 1 Oprah’s book club anniversary party (1997, September 22), p. 17. 2 Fowler (2001), p. 21. 3 This concern arguably has received more attention from our colleagues in literary studies and book history than from communication scholars per se (see., e.g., Radway, 1984; Darnton, 1995; Genet, 1997). 4 In two instances Winfrey chose more than one book for the monthly Book Club selection; hence, the disparity between the number of Book Club programs and the total number of Book Club selections. 5 The word “public” is absolutely crucial here. One potential limitation of the research for this essay is that it relies only on public transcripts, while on the whole bracketing the “hidden transcripts” which, for various reasons, typically are excluded from the public record. Obviously, further research would do well to take up these hidden transcripts and revisit/rework my hypotheses about Oprah’s Book Club in light of them. 6 I would caution the reader to differentiate between three forms of belonging to the Club. Some “members” simply might have read each month’s selection; others might have read and tuned into the televised discussions on The Oprah Winfrey Show; others might not have read the books at all but watched the Book Club programs anyway; and still others may have read the selections in conjunction with their local book clubs, with or without having watched Oprah. 7 It has been reported, for instance, that the first Oprah’s Book Club segment, a three and a half minute discussion of Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean, had been edited from an original discussion lasting several hours (Gates, 1996, p. 77). 8 On a slightly different note, March 1999’s Book Club episode profiled a woman named Sandra Harrison, who, at age forty six, re-enrolled in kindergarten because she was unable to read. The segment apparently was aimed at prompting literate non-readers to better value their ability to read and thus to question their motivations for not taking up book reading in earnest. This segment coincided with the Book Club’s discussion of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, a morally ambiguous novel set in the aftermath of Nazi Germany. More specifically, The Reader revolves around Michael, who, as a law student, discovers

Authors: Striphas, Theodore.
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Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club
30
Notes
1
Oprah’s book club anniversary party (1997, September 22), p. 17.
2
Fowler (2001), p. 21.
3
This concern arguably has received more attention from our colleagues in literary studies and
book history than from communication scholars per se (see., e.g., Radway, 1984; Darnton, 1995; Genet,
1997).
4
In two instances Winfrey chose more than one book for the monthly Book Club selection; hence,
the disparity between the number of Book Club programs and the total number of Book Club selections.
5
The word “public” is absolutely crucial here. One potential limitation of the research for this
essay is that it relies only on public transcripts, while on the whole bracketing the “hidden transcripts”
which, for various reasons, typically are excluded from the public record. Obviously, further research
would do well to take up these hidden transcripts and revisit/rework my hypotheses about Oprah’s Book
Club in light of them.
6
I would caution the reader to differentiate between three forms of belonging to the Club. Some
“members” simply might have read each month’s selection; others might have read and tuned into the
televised discussions on The Oprah Winfrey Show; others might not have read the books at all but watched
the Book Club programs anyway; and still others may have read the selections in conjunction with their
local book clubs, with or without having watched Oprah.
7
It has been reported, for instance, that the first Oprah’s Book Club segment, a three and a half
minute discussion of Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean, had been edited from an original
discussion lasting several hours (Gates, 1996, p. 77).
8
On a slightly different note, March 1999’s Book Club episode profiled a woman named Sandra
Harrison, who, at age forty six, re-enrolled in kindergarten because she was unable to read. The segment
apparently was aimed at prompting literate non-readers to better value their ability to read and thus to
question their motivations for not taking up book reading in earnest. This segment coincided with the Book
Club’s discussion of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, a morally ambiguous novel set in the aftermath of
Nazi Germany. More specifically, The Reader revolves around Michael, who, as a law student, discovers


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