Amazon.com in the Eighteenth Century: Bestsellers and Book Traffic, 1700-1800
For better or worse, the Internet has had a profound impact on the publishing industry, challenging traditional notions of intellectual property, publication, distribution, audience, and the material nature of printed matter itself (to name just a few). Has the beginning of the twenty-first century witnessed the end of print culture as we know it? To get a better understanding of these contemporary issues, this course explores English print culture in America and Great Britain at its beginnings during the eighteenth century. How did writers in England and its American colonies understand their authorship and their audiences? How were books printed, sold, and distributed? Who bought them, who read them, and in what ways? We'll read a variety of eighteenth-century writers from both sides of the Atlantic as well as current scholarship on copyright, the book trade, and reading audiences during this time period. We will also visit Van Pelt Library's rare book room, and the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Rosenbach Museum and Library (both in Center City). Readings will include but not be limited to works by Addison, Franklin, Pope, Wheatley, Cook, Finch, Johnson, Equiano, Ashbridge. This course is affiliated with Writing Across the University and counts towards ½ of the College writing requirement.