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Writing, Publishing, and Reading in Early Modern Europe and the Americas

ENGL 2603.401
also offered as: HIST 3603
Monday 1:45-4:44pm


In this course we will consider the writing, publication, and reading of texts created on both sides of the Atlantic in early modern times, from the era of Gutenberg to that of Franklin, and in many languages. The seminar will be held in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in Van Pelt Library and make substantial use of its exceptional, multilingual collections, including early manuscripts, illustrated books, plays marked for performance, and censored books. Any written or printed object can be said to have a double nature: both textual and material. We will introduce this approach and related methodologies: the history of the book; the history of reading; connected history; bibliography; and textual criticism. We will focus on particular case studies and also think broadly about the global history of written culture, and about relations between scribal and print culture, between writing and reading, between national traditions, and between what is and what is not “literature.” We encourage students with diverse linguistic backgrounds to enroll. As part of the seminar, students will engage in a research project which can be based in the primary source collections of the Kislak Center.


English Major Requirements
  • Literature Seminar pre-1700 (AEB7)
  • Literature Seminar pre-1900 (AEB9)
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 3 Medieval/Renaissance (AEMR)
English Concentration Attributes
  • Literature, Journalism, & Print Culture Concentration (AELJ)
  • Medieval/Renaissance Concentration (AEMC)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes