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ENGL 609.73 - The World of the Eighteenth-Century Book

Instructor: Dr. M. Zytaruk
Schedule: W 10:00-12:45

Course Description:

This course investigates the explosion of printed matter in the eighteenth century, with an emphasis on the institutions, cultural spaces, and social practices implicated in the rise of  print (coffee-houses, gardens, commercial circulating libraries, and subscription book clubs).  This course will provide a thorough grounding in the principles of physical bibliography (paper, typography, format and collation, illustration, binding) and major developments of eighteenth-century print culture.  Modules will be devoted to such topics as the print innovations of Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe; eighteenth-century periodical culture; colour-plate natural history publications; eighteenth-century almanacs; and the broadside ballad.  Some of our case studies will be tied to items in the university's Special Collections.  We will engage with recent book history scholarship by Leah Price, Leslie Howsam, Deidre Lynch, Tom Mole, and others.  At every step, our explorations of rare books will lay bare both the "worldliness" and the everyday of these print items.

Tentative List of Assignments: 

Seminar Paper and Write-Up; Research Paper Proposal and Final Research Paper (25 pages). 

 Readings will include but not be limited to the following: 

  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe.
  • Samuel Richardson, Pamela.
  • Selected essays from vol. V of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain:  1695-1830.  Eds. Michael F. Suarez and Michael L. Turner (Cambridge UP, 2009).
  • Selected essays from The Broadview Reader in Book History.  Eds. Michelle Levy and Tom Mole (Broadview, 2015).   
  • G.T. Tanselle, "Printing History and Other History," Studies in Bibliography 48 (1995):  269-89.
  • Leah Price, "Introduction:  Reading Matter." PMLA 121.1 (2006):  9-16.
  • Paul Duguid, "Material Matters:  The Past and Futurology of the Book," The Future of the Book.  Ed. Geoffrey Nunberg (U of California P, 1996), 63-102.
  • Robert Darnton, "What Is the History of Books?  Revisited," Modern Intellectual History 4.3 (2007):  495-508.
  • James Raven.  The Business of Books:  Booksellers and the English Book Trade, 1450-1850 (Yale UP, 2007).