In his classic, Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White writes, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer” (184). I am unusually fortunate to have so many people in my life that fit this description. While a graduate student at the University of Virginia, I was lucky enough to have Nelson Lichtenstein as an adviser; the confidence Nelson had in my work, even at its earliest stages, continues to amaze me. I will never be able to thank him enough for always being my advocate and for his willingness to read everything I have sent his way.
In her exceptional scholarship and strong convictions, Grace Hale has also served as an important role model. I thank Grace for her honesty and for always urging me to pursue my interests—no matter how unconventional. Many others at Virginia provided valuable guidance, including Ed Ayers, Cindy Aron, Brian Owensby, Chuck McCurdy, and Eric Lott. Maire Murphy helped me navigate the often rough terrain of graduate school; years after we both have left Charlottesville, Maire remains a great friend who affirms my choices and is always willing to listen.
I had the wonderful opportunity to hold a Smithsonian predoctoral fellowship at the National Museum of American History and to work with many talented scholars. Charlie McGovern believed in this project in its most abstract iteration and guided me to many invaluable resources. A terrific mentor with an encyclopedic mind for all things popular culture, Charlie had an immeasurable impact on this project. I appreciate Pete Daniel for creating and sustaining an intellectually vibrant community at the Smithsonian and the many fellows who enlightened me through their scholarship and reassured me in times of frustration. In addition, I thank Fath Rufins for her reliable advice and her astute sense of perspective.
I am grateful to the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, where I held the J. N. G. Finley postdoctoral fellowship in 2003–4. At George Mason, I received remarkable guidance from the late Roy Rosenzweig, who, despite all of own his projects, always found time to read my work and provide suggestions. I also had the privilege of the late Larry Levine’s insights; Larry read the manuscript in its entirety, and his