Ronald J Zboray , PhD

Professor of Communication and Director of the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies, Affiliate Faculty in Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies, PhD American Civilization New York University

1117E Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
F: 412-624-1878 My Website >

Ronald J. Zboray, one of the first scholars to apply histoire-du-livre approaches to the United States in the 1970s, is widely considered a founder of modern American critical print culture studies. With his collaborator, Mary Saracino Zboray, visiting scholar in communication at Pitt, he investigates the intersections of print media production, its dissemination or distribution, and its reception.  Although in his teaching, he covers worldwide TV, radio, film, and the Internet, in addition to print audiences, in his recent research he has extensively used manuscript letters and diaries of 19th-century commonfolk for evidence of everyday media use across social difference in the U.S. The Zborays are currently completing a book project on print media use during the American Civil War, for which he received a 12-month fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2012. 

In a related project using the same types of sources, the team has also been researching women’s political consciousness, epistolary rhetoric, and partisan activism before the vote.  A paper based on this research won the 2010 Wrage-Baskerville Prize awarded by the National Communication Association’s Public Address Division for best contributed paper. Their book from this project, Voices without Votes, won the Everett Lee Hunt Award of the Eastern Communication Association in 2011.

The Zborays have been invited to become the co-editors of volume 5 of the Oxford History of Popular Print Culture.  The volume covers developments in the United States until the Civil War.

On another front, they have been probing into visual representations of race and gender in the nation’s first pictorial periodicals and ethnographic museums.

Dr. Zboray advises many doctoral students working in culture, media, rhetoric, and communication, especially on international, gender, and race topics, both in the contemporary world and in the past.  His PhD advisees have landed tenure-track positions at Denison University, Ithaca College, Central Michigan University, Griffith University (Australia), the Pennsylvania State University Mont Alto, St. John’s University, the Monterey Defense Language Institute, and Utah State University, and they have been awarded nationally and internationally competitive Andrew Mellon Fellowships to Cambridge University’s Needham Research Institute, American Association of University Women Fellowships, Smithsonian Institution Fellowships, Bibliographical Society of America Fellowships, Fred Rogers Memorial Fellowships, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as Pitt-sponsored Cultural Studies Fellowships, Latin American Social and Public Policy Fellowships, K. Leroy Irvis Diversity Fellowships,  Andrew Mellon Fellowships, Women’s Studies Teaching Fellowships, and Chancellor’s Fellowships for Chinese Studies.

Curriculum Vitae

Courses Taught

  • History of Mass Media (COMMRC 1121)
  • Special Topics in Mass Communication (COMMRC 1732)
    • Print Culture in a Digital Age
    • Advertising Cultures, Past and Present
    • Women, Media, and the World
  • Graduate Seminar in Audience and Reception History (COMMRC 2035)
  • Graduate Seminar in Media and Cultural Studies (COMMRC 2226): Food, Media, and Culture (Syllabus)
  • Graduate Seminar, Voices of Remembrance: Oral History Theory, Methods, and Interpretation (COMMRC 2040)
  • Graduate Seminar in Mass Media (COMMRC 3326):
  • Audiences and Social Difference
  • Reconstructing Audiences
  • From Orality to Print
  • Print, Film, Radio, and TV Audiences
  • Print, Film, Radio, TV, and the Oral History Interview
  • Visualizing Race, Class, and Gender
  • Visualizing Race, Class, and Gender in the City
  • Visualizing Race, Class, and Gender in the World
  • War, Media, and Remembrance
  • Graduate Teaching Practicum (COMMRC 3384)

Selected Publications


Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, Voices without Votes: Women and Politics in Antebellum New England. Durham: University of New Hampshire by the University Press of New England, 2010.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, Everyday Ideas: Socioliterary Experience Among Antebellum New Englanders. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. Winner of the History Division Book Prize of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication; winner of the Triennial E. Jennifer Monaghan Prize for the Best Book in the History of Literacy, awarded by History of Reading Special Interest Group, International Reading Association, 2010.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, Literary Dollars and Social Sense: A People’s History of the Mass Market Book. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, A Handbook for the Study of Book History in the United States. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Center for the Book, 2000.

Ronald J. Zboray, A Fictive People: Antebellum Economic Development and the American Reading Public. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.


“A Conversation with Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray,” Vibrant Voices of Public Address 1, no. 1 (Jan. 2012), sponsored by the Public Address Division of the National Communication Association -of-public-address/vibrant-voices-in-public-address-volume-1-no-1/, co-published with the American Antiquarian Society’s blog, Past is Present (Jan. 27, 2012):


Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Women Thinking: The International Popular Lecture in Antebellum New England and Its Audience,” in The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Globalism and Lecture Culture in Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Tom F. Wright (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, in press for 2014).

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Print Culture,”in Handbook of Communication History, ed. Peter Simonson, Janice Peck, Robert T. Craig, and John P Jackson (New York: Routledge, 2013), 181-195.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “History of the Book,” in Media History and the Foundations of Media Studies, ed. John C. Nerone, a volume in the International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, ed. Angharad Valdivia (New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2013), 167-93.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “The History of the Book that Never Quite Took–Or Did It?: Perspectives from Communication History,” in Communication@the Center, ed. Steve Jones (Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press for the International Communication Association, April 2012.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “The Novel in the Antebellum Book Market,” in Cambridge History of the American Novel, ed. Leonard Cassuto, Clare Eby, and Benjamin Reiss (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 67-87.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Changing Methods of Publishing” in U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920, ed. Christine Bold, a volume in The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, ed. Gary Kelly, 9 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 23-42.  An earlier version of the piece was designated top paper in the Media Ecology Association Division of the National Communication Association (2009).

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Nineteenth-Century Print Culture,”  in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism, ed. Joel Myerson, Sandy Harbert Petrulionis, and Laura Dassow Walls (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 102-14.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Is it a Diary, Commonplace Book, Scrapbook, or Whatchamacallit?: Six Years of Exploration in New England’s Manuscript Archives,” in “Papers from the Third International Conference on the History of Records and Archives,” ed. Barbara Craig, Philip B. Eppard, Heather MacNeil, and Brenda Lawson,  Libraries and the Cultural Record 44:1 (Feb. 2009): 101-23.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray,  “Media and War,” Encyclopedia of War and American Society, 3 vols., ed. Peter Karsten (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2006), 2: 468-77.  Volume is winner of the 2007 Distinguished Book Award of the American Society for Military History.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Between ‘Crockery-dom’ and Barnum: Boston’s Chinese Museum, 1845-1847.” American Quarterly, 56(2) June 2004, 271-307.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Cannonballs and Books: Reading and the Disruption of Social Ties on the New England Homefront.” In The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War, ed. Joan Cashin. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002, 237-261.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Home Libraries and the Institutionalization of Everyday Practice in Antebellum New England.” American Studies, Special Issue on Culture and Libraries, 42 (3 (Fall 2001), 63-86. Reprinted in Libraries as Agencies of Culture, ed. Thomas Augst and Wayne Wiegand. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002, 63-86.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Gender Slurs in Boston's Partisan Press During the 1840s.” Journal of American Studies, 34(December 2000), 413-45.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Transcendentalism in Print: Production, Dissemination, and Common Reception.” In Transient and Permanent: The Transcendentalist Movement and Its Contexts, ed. Charles Capper and Conrad Edick Wright. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1999, 310-81.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “The Mysteries of New England: Eugene Sue’s ‘Imitators,’ 1844,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 22 (September 2000), 457-92..

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “The Romance of Fisherwomen in Antebellum New England.” American Studies, 39(Spring 1998), 5-30.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “The Boston Book Trades, 1789-1850: A Statistical and Geographical Analysis.” In Entrepreneurs: The Boston Business Community, 1700-1850, ed. Conrad Edick Wright and Katheryn P. Viens. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1997, 210-67.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Reading and Everyday Life in Antebellum Boston: The Diary of Daniel F. and Mary G. Child.” Libraries and Culture, 32(Summer 1997), 285-323.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Whig Women, Politics, and Culture in the Campaign of 1840: Three Perspectives from Massachusetts.” Journal of the Early Republic, 17(Summer 1997), 279-314.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Have You Read...?: Real Readers and Their Responses in Antebellum Boston and Its Region." Nineteenth-Century Literature, 52(September 1997), 139-170.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Political News and Female Readership in Antebellum Boston and Its Region,” Journalism History, 22(Spring 1996), 2-14.

Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray, “Books, Reading, and the World of Goods in Antebellum New England.” American Quarterly, 48(December 1996), 587-622.

Ronald J. Zboray, “Technology and the Character of Community Life in Antebellum America: The Role of Story Papers.” In Communication and Change in American Religious History, ed. Leonard I. Sweet. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1993, 185-215.

Candace Falk, Ronald J. Zboray, Alice Hall, and others, eds., The Emma Goldman Papers[70 reels]. Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healey, Inc., 1990; Guide, 1995.

Ronald J. Zboray, “Antebellum Reading and the Ironies of Technological Innovation.” American Quarterly (special issue titled, "Reading America"), 40 (1988), 65-82.

Ronald J. Zboray, "The Transportation Revolution and Antebellum Book Distribution Reconsidered," American Quarterly, 38 (1986), 53-71.

Ronald J. Zboray, “The Railroad, the Community, and the Book,” Southwest Review, 71 (1986), 474-487.

Ronald J. Zboray, “The Real and the Realistic in Down to the Sea in Ships.” Film and History, 10 (1980), 49-54.