David Dowling

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David Dowling
Associate Professor
E334 AJB
Office Hours:
Spring 2019: Tuesday & Thursday 11-12:30 or by appt.
PhD 1995, University of Colorado

David Dowling’s work in digital media and journalism history centers on innovations in publishing industries that drive markets and cultural production. His research on the digital longform movement includes “Can We Snowfall This? Digital Longform and the Race for the Tablet Market,” an article (with Travis Vogan) in Digital Journalism spotlighted by Nieman Journalism and Shorenstein Center. A similar topic is his project on alternative business models and the economics of deep storytelling in Slow Journalism. Literary journalism, narrative longform, and online reading communities are the subjects of his articles that have appeared in Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture, Convergence, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and elsewhere. His journalistic reporting and writing includes a multimedia longform story (http://narrative.ly/how-the-creator-of-jaws-became-the-sharks-greatest-d...) in Narratively, one of Time’s 50 best websites of 2013.

The subject of writers in mass culture is the focus of both A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in Paul Engle’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Dowling’s current book project under contract with Yale, and recent articles on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, and Karl Marx in Litteraria Pragensia and Sur Le Journalisme (About Journalism). His research on the careers of nineteenth-century American writers and journalists has appeared in a variety of academic journals including American Journalism, Journalism History, and American Periodicals. His sixth book, Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America’s Most Storied Shipwreck (University Press of New England, forthcoming 2016), explores issues of liability, blame, and self-promotion in print and digital culture from the 1821 disaster that inspired Moby-Dick to the January 2012 Costa Concordia tragedy.

Dowling’s 2014 book, Emerson’s Protégés: Mentoring and Marketing Transcendentalism’s Future (Yale) is a study of Emerson’s work as editor, publicist, and promoter of several key figures associated with the radical youth movement the British press disapprovingly called “Emerson Mania.” His Literary Partnerships and the Marketplace: Writers and Mentors in Nineteenth-Century America (LSU, 2012) and The Business of Literary Circles in Nineteenth-Century America (Palgrave, 2011) treat professionalization, career formation, competition, and collaboration among writers, editors, and publishers within the social matrix of the periodical press.

Prior to these works, Dowling employed a journalistic frame in an ethnographic study of Melville’s contemporary disciples at their marquis annual event recognizing the author’s magnum opus. With participants such as Congressman Barney Frank, the event attracted international media attention. NPR and The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Dowling upon the publication of Chasing the White Whale: The Moby-Dick Marathon; or, What Melville Means Today (Iowa, 2010). His first book, Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market (Iowa, 2009), treats authors’ reactions to developments in the free market, especially as they negotiated with editors and other intermediaries to establish careers through the publication and promotion of their work in magazines and newspapers as a means of entering the book trade.

Dowling teaches Media History and Culture (JMC 1200), and a variety of courses ranging from feature writing to the internet and journalism and entertainment media industries, all of which deal with digital longform, literary and narrative journalism, online business models, and mobile audiences. His comments on digital media appeared on this televised interview (at the 10:30 mark)


  • JMC:1200 Media History and Culture
  • JMC:2300 Principles of Journalism
  • JMC:3122 Digital and Gaming Culture
  • JMC:3185 Topics in Mass Communication: History of Media Industries
  • JMC:3185 Topics in Mass Communication: The Internet and Journalism
  • JMC:3520 Feature Reporting and Writing


Books (Solo Authored)

  • A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in Paul Engle’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Yale University Press 2018, in press.
  • Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America’s Most Storied Shipwreck, University Press of New England, 2016. (Reviewed in the Washington Post 7/16).
  • Emerson’s Protégés: Mentoring and Marketing Transcendentalism’s Future, Yale University Press, 2014.
  • Literary Partnerships and the Marketplace: Writers and Mentors in Nineteenth-Century America, Louisiana State University Press, 2012.
  • The Business of Literary Circles in Nineteenth-Century America, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Chasing the White WhaleThe Moby-Dick Marathon; or, What Melville Means Today, University of Iowa Press, 2010. (Reviewed in Journal of American StudiesNew England QuarterlyChoice [“Highly Recommended”], Library Journal [“Recommended for all academic libraries…”], and Chronicle of Higher Education with interview. Radio spot, NPR, January 2011).
  • Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market. University of Iowa Press, 2009.

Book Manuscript In Progress

  • “Immersed: Narrative Journalism in the Digital Age”


  • “Emerson’s Newspaperman: Horace Greeley and Radical Intellectual Culture, 1836-1872” Journalism & Communication Monographs 19.1 (Spring 2017).

Articles (Solo Authored Except as Noted)

  • David Dowling and John Haman [student author], “New Horizons for Teaching Journalism History: A Multimedia Approach” American Journalism, Forthcoming, 2017.
  • “Toward a New Aesthetic of Digital Literary Journalism: Charting the Fierce Evolution of the ‘Supreme Nonfiction’” Literary Journalism Studies, 9.1 (Spring 2017): 100-116.
  • “Beyond the Program Era: Tracy Kidder, John D’Agata and the Rise of Literary Journalism at Iowa” Literary Journalism Studies, 8.1 (2016): 52-77.
  • “The Business of Slow Journalism: Deep Storytelling’s Alternative Economies.” Digital Journalism, special issue: “Slow Journalism,” ed. Megan Le Masurier, ahead of print (20 November 2015): 1-17.
  • “Radical Designs: The Emergence of the Progressive Editorial in the Nineteenth-Century Press.” Sur Le Journalisme (About Journalism) 5.2 (2016): 32-45.
  • John Haman [student author] and David Dowling, “Selling the Sole: Media, Mysticism, and the Marketing of Barefoot-Inspired Athletic Footwear.” Sport in Society, ahead-of-print (20 November 2014): 1-19.
  • “Media Critic/Media Celebrity: Emerson’s Quarrel With Mass Culture.” Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture 24.48 (2014): 34-46.
  • David Dowling and Travis Vogan, “Can We Snowfall This? Digital Longform and the Race for the Tablet Market.” Digital Journalism, 3.2 (2015): 209-224. [Spotlighted by Nieman Journalism Lab, Shorenstein Center for Journalism, July 2014].
  • “Sailing into Sandy: Media and the Moral Wreckage of the HMS Bounty.” Journal of American Culture 37.3 (September 2014): 296-280.
  • “Escaping the Shallows: Deep Reading’s Revival in the Digital Age.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 8.2 (2014).
  • “‘Revenge Upon a Dumb Brute’: Casting the Whale in Film Adaptations of Moby-Dick.” The Journal of Film and Video 66.4 (2014): 50-63.
  • Travis Vogan and David Dowling, “Bill Simmons, Grantland.com, and ESPN’s Corporate Reinvention of Literary Sports Writing Online.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ahead-of-print 22.1 (2016): 18-34. [Reprinted in Sport and Communication, ed. Raymond Boyle, Sage Publications].
  • “Reporting the Revolution: Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, and the Italian Risorgimento.” American Journalism 31.1 (2014): 26-38.
  • “Media, Myth and the ‘Fighting Whale’ in Maritime Narratives.” Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 47.3 (Fall 2014): 255-283.
  • “Re-Branding Literary Sportswriting: ESPN’s Venture into Fiction.” Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, 33.2 (Spring/Summer 2013): 123-141.
  • “The Nineteenth-Century Weekly Press and the Tumultuous Career of Journalist Leon Lewis.” Journalism History 39.3 (Fall 2013): 156-167 [10,932 words].
  • “Dreams Deferred: Ambition and the Mass Market in Melville and King.” Journal of Popular Culture 44.5 (October 2011): 970-991.
  • “Davis, Inc.: The Business of Asylum Reform in the Periodical Press.” American Periodicals 20.1 (2010): 23-45.
  • “Autobiography as Professional Ethic: Fanny Fern’s Vision of Literary Partnership.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 24.2 (December 2010): 210-234.
  • “‘Other and More Terrible Evils’:  Anticapitalist Rhetoric in Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig and Proslavery Propaganda.” College Literature 36.3 (Summer 2009): 116-136.
  • “‘Parlors, Sofas, Carpets, and Fine Cambrics’: Gender Play in Melville’s Narrations.” Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 11.1 (2009): 37-54.
  • “Commercial Method and Thoreau’s Economy of Subsistence Writing.” Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies 16 (2008): 1-19.
  • “Capital Sentiment: Fanny Fern’s Transformation of the Gentleman Publisher’s Code.” ATQ:  Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture 22.1 (March 2008): 347-364.
  • “‘Hard as a Diamond’:  Running and Living Deliberately in Parker and Thoreau.” Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature 24.2 (Spring/Summer 2007): 113-130.

Under Review

  • Subin Paul [student author] and David Dowling, “Ghandi’s Newspaperman: T.G. Narayanan and the Quest for an Independent India, 1938-1946,” Modern Asian Studies. Revised and resubmitted.
  • “Banned in Britain: Marilynne Robinson’s Radical Environmental Journalism,” Environmental Communication. Under review.
  • Book proposal for “Immersed: Narrative Journalism in the Digital Age.” Under review.

Selected Non Peer Reviewed Articles (Solo Authored Except as Noted)

  • “How the Creator of Jaws Became the Shark’s Greatest Defender.” Narrative.ly (11 August 2014) online at: narrative.ly.
  • David Perlmutter and David Dowling, “How the Humanities and Journalism Can Save Each Other.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 59.12 (16 November 2012): B10-11.


Chapters in Edited Volumes (Solo Authored Except as Noted)

  • “Health Reform in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York Periodical Press” in The History of New York City Literature, ed. Ross Wilson, Cambridge University Press, under agreement and in progress, 2019.
  • “Literary Journalism in the Digital Age” in The Routledge Companion to American Literary Journalism, ed. William Dow and Roberta Maguire. Routledge, 2018, in press.
  • “The Literary Marketplace” in Walt Whitman in Context, ed. Ed Whitley, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2017.
  • “Literary Circles” in Herman Melville in Context, ed. Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press. forthcoming, 2017.
  • “Melville and the Antebellum American Reading Public” in The Blackwell Companion to American Literature, vol. 2, 1820-1914,” ed. Susan Belasco, Theresa Strouth Gaul, Linck Johnson, and Michael Soto. Blackwell, forthcoming, 2017.
  • “Emerson in Media Studies and Journalism” in Approaches to Teaching Emerson’s Essays and Other Works, ed. Sean Meehan and Mark Long. Modern Language Association, forthcoming, 2017.
  • “Authorship” in The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, ed. Gary Kelly, Vol. 5, U.S. Popular Print Culture to 1860, ed. Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray. Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2017.
  • David Dowling and Travis Vogan, “Longform Narrative Journalism; ‘Snow Fall’ and Beyond” in The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies, ed. Bob Franklin and Scott Eldridge. Routledge, 2016.
  • “Publishers” in Emerson in Context, ed. Wesley Mott. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • “The Sea” in Poe in Context, ed. Kevin Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • “At the Axis of Reality: Melville’s Aesthetic” in Critical Insights: Herman Melville, ed. Eric Carl Link. Salem Press, 2013.
  • “Fraught Ecstasy: Contemporary Encounters with Thoreau’s Post-pristine Nature” in Thoreauvian Modernities: Transatlantic Conversations on an American Icon, ed. Francois Specq, Laura Dassow-Walls, and Michel Granger. University of Georgia Press, 2013.