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2004 Summer Seminar

"Enriching American Studies Scholarship
through the History of the Book"
Sunday, June 20, through Friday, June 25, 2004

Semianar Leader:
Philip F. Gura, Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture, Department of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

James N. Green, Associate Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia
Eliza Richards, Assistant Professor of English, Boston University
members of the AAS staff.

View the syllabus

Since its emergence as a separate discipline more than a half century ago, American studies has contributed significantly to innovative and revisionist scholarship. In this weeklong seminar, participants considered how the equally interdisciplinary field of the history of the book broadens and enriches topics that traditionally have comprised American studies and its constituent disciplines, including history and literature.

Intended as a practicum, the seminar centered both on projects and problems that participants bring to the table as well as presentations from the core faculty, making participants aware of how knowledge of the materiality of print culture might fertilize their teaching and scholarship.

A historian of childhood, for example, might understand his subject differently if he did not just read contemporary printed sources for documentation of his work but actually analyzed how the process of the publishing circuit might have affected Americans understanding of childhood. Someone interested in the history of domesticity could come to new conclusions about the significance of home spaces by studying the production and transmission of early, engraved building guides. A scholar interested in the rise of antebellum celebrity culture might profit from knowledge of early photography and its uses in book illustration. Early in the seminar, faculty will introduce the issues, techniques, and tools of history of the book research through presentations on their own work in American studies. In particular, the seminar leader will present sessions on the impact of history of the book scholarship on work in early American religious history and American literature and the impact of photography on the book arts. Guest faculty will take up, among other subjects, the various tools now available to those who embark on scholarship in the history of print culture and lead a workshop in which seminar participants have the opportunity for hands-on research in AAS collections. The seminar also included discussion of student presentations on their own areas of interest and work in progress.

The deadline for applications has passed.

The fee for the seminar was $725, which includes tuition, selected course materials, two dinners, and five lunches. A limited amount of financial aid was made available. Preference for assistance will be given to first-time AAS summer seminar attendees.

About the Faculty:

Philip F. Gura is the author or editor of nine books, including The Wisdom of Words: Language, Theology, and Literature in the New England Renaissance (1981), A Glimpse of Sion's Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England, 1620-1660 (1984), the prize-winning America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century (1999), and Buried from the World: Inside the Massachusetts State Prison, 1829-1831, The Memorandum Books of the Rev. Jared Curtis (2001). Gura's study, C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873, was published in 2003 by the University of North Carolina Press. He has just completed an interpretive biography, Jonathan Edwards, America's Evangelical, forthcoming from Hill & Wang. Additional information on his research interests is available on his website at

James N. Green is the Associate Librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia. A member of the staff of the LCP for twenty-one years, he has been a member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society of America and of the Editorial Board of the American Antiquarian Society's multivolume work A History of the Book in America, as well as a contributor to its first and second volumes. Currently, he is working on a major exhibition on "Franklin and the Book" for the Library Company's 275th anniversary and the tercentenary of Franklin's birth. Jim Green has rich and varied experience in the areas of bibliography and rare books.

Eliza Richards is Assistant Professor of English at Boston University; her area of specialization is nineteenth-century U.S. literature. Her first book, entitled Gender and the Poetics of Reception in Poe's Circle, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press (August 2004). She spent last year as an American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow to do research on a project about the relationship between poetry and democracy, entitled Hearing Voices: Lyric Representation in Nineteenth-Century America.



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