Comparative Migrations and Multilingual Cultures of Print


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

Led by Rodrigo Lazo and Patrick Erben

Migration and print culture have long overlapped with the histories of early American communities. To meet the demands of multilingual publics, traveling printing presses produced pamphlets, books, and newspapers by and for immigrant populations in their home languages. This resulted in a substantial print archive from places such as Philadelphia in the colonial and early national eras, New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century, California during the Gold Rush, and New York in the later nineteenth century.

The 2024 Summer Seminar in the History of the Book will study multilingual print cultures through the lens of migration studies. A growing field of scholarly inquiry, migration studies has largely focused on contemporary movements and border crossings. Using a historicist lens, this seminar engages with histories of migration and related topics such as borderlands, transnationalism, racialization, ethnic formations, and refugee studies.

Seminar discussions and archival sessions focus on the print cultures of various migrant groups. Working with AAS collection materials, many of which are difficult to access elsewhere, participants will explore comparative work on migration and consider how debates about border crossings and undocumented migrants can inform the study of earlier historical periods, as well as the possibilities and challenges arising from a diverse and multilingual print archive.

The application deadline was April 15, 2024.

Guest faculty for the seminar include:

Jesse Alemán is Professor of English and a Presidential Teaching Fellow at the University of New Mexico. His research spans two fields: nineteenth-century American literature and Latinx literary and cultural histories in the United States. Alemán is currently the 2023-24 Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society.

Kirsten Silva Gruesz is Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a leading expert on Spanish-language print culture in the United States. Her most recent book is the prize-winning Cotton Mather’s Spanish Lessons: A Story of Language, Race, and Belonging in the Early Americas (2022). With Anna Brickhouse, she co-taught the 2017 AAS summer seminar “Other Languages, Other Americas.”

Seminar Leader

Rodrigo Lazo is Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a literary historian who works on print culture and the Spanish language in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing on writers who crossed the Americas and conceptualized migratory processes as part of anti-colonial movements. He is the author of Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States (2005) and Letters from Filadelfia: Early Latino Literature and the Trans-American Elite (2020). With Jesse Alemán he co-edited The Latino Nineteenth Century (2016), a collection of essays that emphasize the depth, diversity, and long-standing presence of Latinos/as and their literature in the United States. His articles have appeared in numerous journals and collections, including American Literary History, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Lazo currently serves as President of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. He was elected to AAS membership in 2010.


Patrick Erben is Professor of English at the University of West Georgia. His first book, A Harmony of the Spirits: Translation and the Language of Community in Early Pennsylvania (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/UNC Press, 2012), demonstrates that translation served as a practical tool and as a spiritual ideal for establishing links between seemingly incoherent languages, religious doctrines, genders, and ethnicities. He co-edited a scholarly edition of writings by Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown in Pennsylvania, The Francis Daniel Pastorius Reader: Writings by an Early American Polymath (2019). His next monograph focuses on German Pietist influences on major works of American literature, based in part on a recent fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society. Erben serves on the editorial board of Early American Literature and is past President of the Society of Early Americanists.