ENG 325 - American Print Culture, 1700-1900
The years from 1700 to 1900 witnessed a transformation of print culture from the handpress period to an age of mechanical reproduction. The rapidly increasing availability of inexpensive print technologies had a tremendous impact on habits of publishing, of writing, and of reading itself. In this course, students will examine how the material contexts of print culture in early America affected and were affected by notions of authorship, readership, gender, genre, and popular and elite taste. Some sessions will be conducted at the American Antiquarian Society where students will be able to examine archival material in hands-on workshops. For the final research paper, students will be encouraged to use resources from the AAS, from Goddard Library Special Collections, and/or from the many new digital humanities archives now available online.
Special Topic for Spring 2017: Early African American Print Culture and the Challenges of the Archive: Students in this PoP (Problems of Practice) seminar will first draw upon important recent scholarship in order to gain familiarity with 18th- and 19th-century Black writers, publishers, and other agents of print culture, primarily in what would become the United States but also within the context of the Atlantic world. Simultaneously, we will interrogate the ways in which contested historical, biographical, and literary narratives are shaped, particularly in relation to the structure of archives themselves, which just as often conceal the stories and lives that they attempt to preserve as they reveal them. Multiple class session will be held at the American Antiquarian Society, where students will conduct original research with primary historical sources, such as early books, pamphlets, newspapers, ephemera, graphics, and manuscripts. Rather than completing a standard seminar paper based largely on secondary sources, students will develop a detailed research proposal for a major scholarly essay (with working thesis or questions, provisional findings, literature review, and suggestions for further archival investigation) or for a non-essay based project (such as an online exhibit or teaching resource, a finding aid for an underutilized portion of an archival collection, a transcription or edition of an unpublished or rare document, a contribution to an existing digital humanities initiative, etc.). Throughout, we will strive to articulate new questions in old archives. ENG 225 may be of particular interest to literature and history majors but is designed for students from any discipline who are interested in learning to work with archival material. This special topic fulfills both the C2 (1700-1900 seminar) requirement for the English major and the Advanced Research Course for the Africana Studies concentration.
Anticipated Terms Offered: Most years