Following a Writer: Erin Overbey

As I teased in my last post, I chose to follow a writer I already had a little experience with through my investigation into Joshua Rothman, Erin Overbey. Like Rothman, Overbey is an archivist at The New Yorker (the chief archivist, in fact) who specializes in writing pieces covering the magazine’s historical coverage and trends on varying subjects of interest. The article I first took a look at of hers was one on “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Imperfect Romance with The New Yorker,” which she co-wrote once again with Rothman. As I mentioned in class on Tuesday, I’m interested in the culture of 1920’s America, and Fitzgerald is one of the quintessential chroniclers of that era, so this article was right down my alley. It is a short article, but it highlights the various pieces that Fitzgerald submitted to the magazine – which was still in its infancy during Fitzgerald’s time – and how Fitzgerald actually spoke lowly of the magazine and its content despite his contribution to it.

In another article titled “In Trump, Echoes of Nixon’s Constitutional Crisis,” she dissects the parallels between Nixon and today’s president. Published around the time that Trump fired FBI director James Comey under suspect circumstances, this article puts Overbey in a different situation from the other pieces of hers and Rothman’s I’ve highlighted. Here, she uses her position as archivist to compare contemporary politics with Nixon’s area based on The New Yorker’s live coverage of both. In doing so, not only can we better notice parallels between these two situations, but also how reporting of such circumstances has changed over time. It highlights how Overbey’s writing is not just a fun or interesting means of reflecting on the magazine’s (and in a sense, the role of the press as a whole’s) history in the country but also relevant commentary on it.

Leave a Reply