Julie Golia

Jun 1, 2021

Newspaper Confessions

A History of Advice Columns in a Pre-Internet Age

Oxford University Press 2021

Julie Golia's new book Newspaper Confessions: A History of Advice Columns in a Pre-Internet Age (Oxford UP, 2021) chronicles the history of the newspaper advice column, a genre that has shaped Americans’ relationships with media, their experiences with popular therapy, and their virtual interactions across generations. Emerging in the 1890s, advice columns became unprecedented virtual forums where readers could debate the most resonant cultural crises of the day with strangers in an anonymous yet public forum. The columns are important—and overlooked—precursors to today’s digital culture: forums, social media groups, chat rooms, and other online communities that define how present-day American communicate with each other. This book charts the rise of the advice column and its impact on the newspaper industry. It analyzes the advice given in a diverse sample of columns across several decades, emphasizing the ways that advice columnists framed their counsel as modern, yet upheld the racial and gendered status quo of the day. It shows how advice columnists were forerunners to the modern celebrity journalist, while also serving as educators to audience of millions. This book includes in-depth case studies of specific columns, demonstrating how these forums transformed into active and participatory virtual communities of confession, advice, debate, and empathy.

Julie Golia is a Curator of History, Social Sciences, and Government Information, New York Public Library. 

Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.

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