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2005 Summer Seminar

"Publishing God:
Printing, Preaching, and Reading in Eighteenth-Century America"

June 12 - June 17, 2005

Summer Seminar image The 2005 summer seminar focused on the eighteenth-century Anglophone colonies to track the interplay between religious cultures and the circulation of print. Part of the aim of the course was be to defamiliarize the concept of "religion" and to correct the presentist assumption that religion plays a marginal or secondary role in the genesis and structure of the public sphere. The seminar paid particular attention to how publicly circulated materials helped to inculcate habits of piety, and how rhetorics of piety elaborated public cultures among strangers, bringing into dialogue scholars from a variety of fields, including history of the book, public sphere theory, religious history, music history, art history, anthropology, literary studies, and cultural history. Librarians and curators of rare book collections were also encouraged to apply.

Drawing on the treasures of the AAS collection, the seminar concentrated on practical case studies to open up major theoretical questions for each of the following topics:

  • the Bible in colonial culture
  • new histories of reading
  • evangelism, the so-called "Great Awakening," uses of print, and the rise of an evangelical public
  • transformations of the New-England Primer in its long career
  • the circulation of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress as a Protestant classic and icon
  • Benjamin Franklin, in his complex relation to religion and religious markets
Discussion of these topics joined general readings in the secondary literature with hands-on examination of materials in a number of planned workshops. For example, in discussing the cultures of the Bible and scripture reading, we focused on specific psalms and passages from Genesis and Revelation, tracking their production, reproduction and circulation in textual and visual forms.

View the syllabus


Seminar Leaders

* Michael Warner, Rutgers University
* Peter Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania

Guest Faculty

* James N. Green, Library Company of Philadelphia
* David D. Hall, Harvard University
* Members of the AAS staff



The fee for the seminar was $795, which includes tuition, selected course materials, two dinners, and five lunches. Information about housing, for which there is an additional fee, was sent to those accepted for the seminar.


About the Seminar Leaders

Michael Warner teaches at Rutgers University, where he is Board of Governors Professor of English. His most recent books include Publics and Counterpublics (Zone Books, 2002) and The Portable Walt Whitman (Penguin, 2003). He is also the author of The Letters of the Republic (1990) and The Trouble with Normal (1999). He has edited two literary anthologies: American Sermons (Library of America, 1999); and, with Myra Jehlen, The English Literatures of America, 1500-1800 (1997). He is also the editor of Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (1993); and, with Gerald Graff, The Origins of Literary Studies in America: A Documentary Anthology (1988).

Peter Stallybrass is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, Director of the History of Material Texts, and Co-Director of the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent books are O Casaco de Marx (Marx's Coat), published in Brazil in 1999, and Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory, written with Ann Rosalind Jones, which won the James Russell Lowell Prize from the MLA in 2001. In 2004, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on the material culture of reading, writing and note-taking in early modern England and colonial America and to prepare an exhibition with James Green on "Benjamin Franklin and the Book" for 2006.


About the Guest Faculty

James N. Green is the Librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia. A member of the staff of the LCP for twenty-two 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.

David D. Hall teaches at Harvard Divinity School and in the History of American Civilization program. He serves as general editor of the American Antiquarian Society's multi-volume "A History of the Book in America," and co-edited, with Hugh Amory, the initial volume in this series, The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press, 2000). He has written widely on popular religion, witch-hunting, literacy, and culture in early America.

Additional Information

 ~ About the seminar leaders
 ~ About the guest faculty
 ~ View the syllabus

 ~ Previous summer seminars





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Last updated June 27, 2005

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