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History of the Book, 19th Century

ENGL 298.401
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30

 This course examines printing, book production, and the production,
 dissemination, and reception of print cultures after 1800. As modern
 industrial technologies increased both the abundance of cheap paper and
 the speed and output of the printing press, industrializing societies
 became increasingly literacy-dependent. We will read historical studies
 which describe these changes and examine the impact on western cultures
 and societies of the increased availability of printed matter and the rise
 in literacy rates. We will also read some texts suggestive of various ways
 in which "literary" writers responded to the literary production
 conditions of their times and the possibilities now open to, and the
 demands now constricting, them.
 
 Readings will concentrate on the history of, and on products deriving
 from, the Anglo-American tradition. Students are encouraged, however, to
 consider the growing number of studies tracing developments in other
 cultures, as well.
 
 This course is intended to introduce some of the issues that the
 concatenation of changes mentioned above raises, issues including, but not
 limited to: (1) how changes in the physical conditions of production
 altered or reflected the changing role of print within society; (2) how
 authors, printers, publishers, and reading publics redefined the ways in
 which they interacted with one another; (3) how the rise of mass literacy
 impacted upon the kind of materials produced for mass audiences; (4) how
 various economic and intellectual interests converge and diverge in the
 "republic of letters"/"marketplace of ideas"; (5) how new conditions
 enabled writers and publishers to target printed products at selected
 market segments (by gender, class, interests, reading levels, and so
 forth) in ways not always possible at earlier times. Readings will include
 standard historical/bibliographical books and articles, as well as a
 number of literary works that embody certain themes of interest to this
 class.