American Antiquarian 

Programs > Academic Programs > History of the Book

Search this site

2006 Summer Seminar

Books and Their Readers to 1800 and Beyond

image from James Thomson, 
1700-1748.  The Seasons.  (New York: Gilly, 1819)

June 12-15, 2006

This seminar deals with the meaning and forms of signatures, marginalia, gift inscriptions, and other marks of ownership, especially as they illuminate the emotional and intellectual relations to artifacts. We will examine books as parents, children, friends, mentors, loved ones, prompt texts for performance, witnesses, cultural capital, and sources of authority and authorization. The latter case is part of the work of commonplace books, though transcribed or edited extracts serve multiple personal ends. Working with specific artifacts, the class will engage the charged vocabulary of things, commodities, possessions, and belongings and will ask the question in what way is a book "owned." One point of departure is the assumption that any collection of books is an autobiography written with objects rather than words and focuses on collecting as both preservation and the conferral of new meanings onto texts. All of these concerns turn on the history of reading and the complexities of readerly identification with its edification, dangers, and pleasures. Drawing heavily on the interest of class members, the pay-off of the class will be the multiplication of the kinds of questions one can ask of books in their incarnational mixture of materiality and meaning.

View the syllabus


Seminar Leader

* Jay Fliegelman, Stanford University

Guest Faculty

* Leah Price, Harvard University
* Members of the AAS staff



The fee for the seminar is $695, which includes tuition, selected course materials, two dinners, and four lunches. A limited amount of financial aid is available. Preference for assistance will be given to first-time AAS summer seminar attendees.



Housing, at special seminar rates, is available at the Courtyard by Marriott in Worcester. The hotel is about a ten-minute walk from the Society, and only a few minutes by car.

  • Worcester Courtyard by Marriott, 72 Grove Street, Worcester, MA 01608

    Please visit the Worcester Courtyard by Marriott's Summer Seminar webpage for details on seminar accomodations

    Deadline for reservations is Friday, May 19, 2006.


Contact Information

  • For more information about the seminar in general and about the seminar program in particular, contact Joanne Chaison (jchaison[at]; 508-471-2150).
  • For questions related to logistics, contact Cheryl McRell (cmcrell[at]; 508-471-2149).


About the Seminar Leader

Jay Fliegelman is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature and American Studies at Stanford University, where he has won multiple teaching awards. He is the author of Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution Against Patriarchal Authority, 1750-1800 and Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language, and Performance and is now completing a book called Belongings: Dramas of American Book Ownership, 1630-1860.
Jay Fliegelman's page at Stanford


About the Guest Faculty

Leah Price is Professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel and co-editor of Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture, as well as a special issue of PMLA on "The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature." She also co-directs two seminars at the Harvard Humanities Center, one on Victorian Studies and the other on the History of the Book.
Leah Price's page at Harvard

Additional Information

 ~ Cost

 ~ Housing

 ~ Contact Information

 ~ Directions to AAS

 ~ About the seminar leader

 ~ About the guest faculty

 ~ View the syllabus

 ~ Previous summer seminars



The deadline for receiving applications has passed.

Those accepted into the seminar will be informed by the end of March.





American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
Tel.: 508-755-5221
Fax: 508-753-3311
e-mail the library

Contact Us
Staff Directory
Site Map
Site Index
Last updated April 3, 2006

American Antiquarian 
Society logo

This site and all contents © 2011 American Antiquarian Society

Valid HTML 4.01!