Book History and Media History

Summer Seminar in the History of the Book
Monday, June 22- Friday, June 26, 2009

Seminar Leader(s): 

Lisa Gitelman
Meredith L. McGill

What does it mean to study book history in the digital age? Does it matter that nineteenth-century printed texts are today increasingly encountered as digital images and searchable data, courtesy of vendors such as ProQuest, Readex, EBSCO, and Google? This seminar, which will be led by Lisa Gitelman and Meredith McGill, will explore points of contact between book history and media history. Focusing on the efflorescence of popular print in the period from 1830 to 1870, our aim will be to improve our understanding of the circulation of culture under conditions of social and technological change.

This seminar takes advantage of the American Antiquarian Society's unparalleled collection of nineteenth-century print materials as well as its leading role in the creation of a range of online archives as well as other tools, old and new, for the study of American imprints, newspapers, government documents, and printed ephemera. Readings, discussions, and workshops should be of interest to scholars at all levels and in all fields of American history and literature.

The seminar addresses issues in comparative media studies that are particularly germane to book history, such as:

  • The circulation of content across media and of media across cultures
  • The relationships between the linguistic and the visual, the aural and the inscribed
  • The periodicity or temporality of print publication as it helps to shape the shared present of the public sphere.

Seminar members will be introduced to the American Antiquarian Society's collections, will participate in hands-on archival investigations, and will discuss readings drawn from recent work in both media studies and book history.

About the Faculty: 

Lisa Gitelman, Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU, and Meredith McGill, English, Rutgers University

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Wed: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

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