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Material Texts

ENGL 736.401
crosslisted as: COML 736
instructor(s):
Wednesday 9:00-12:00

This course will focus upon the material culture of reading, writing, and printing from 1400 to 1900 in England and America, although students will be welcome to develop twentieth-century topics (e.g. on Mercedes de Acosta’s bible with its photograph gallery of her “saints,” including Greta Garbo). We will do hands-on research on the extraordinary collections of manuscripts and printed texts at the Library Company, the Free Library, and the Rosenbach Museum, as well as at Penn, and the course will give you a chance to find archives and to develop publishable projects that will be relevant to whatever research you will go on to do. The topics that we will explore will include theories of materiality, fetishism and relics, “persons” and “things”, the bible and the body, authorship and anonymity, writing as a material practice, the manuscript production and circulation of poetry from Donne to Emily Dickinson, graffiti, and letter-writing.