Book Me: Critical Bibliography and the Cultural Uses of Printed Media to Construct and Contest Global Identities, 1700–1970

AHA Session 153
American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 1
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Grant Park Parlor (Palmer House Hilton, Sixth Floor)
Rhae Lynn Barnes, Princeton University
Marissa Nicosia, Penn State Abington and Ryan Cordell, Northeastern University

Session Abstract

This interactive panel comprised of historians, literary critics, and curators dedicated to digital humanities-- and who represent members of both the AHA and MLA--considers the historical relationship between critical bibliography and the materiality of textual and visual media in various forms. Using a wide array of primary sources ranging from Bengali detective novels for children, Reconstruction-era wood engraving cartoons in the United States, legal texts circulating in the British Empire, ephemeral government printing in Persia, racist amateur blackface minstrel plays disseminated in the Pacific, and female slaveholders’ private libraries in rural Virginia as case studies, our panel will be attentive to global media perspectives between the 18th and 20th centuries while analyzing how they related to the construction of cultural identities, stereotypes, or how their material make sought to re-shape the social contours of representation.

In our discussion, that will bring together both AHA and MLA members, we will debate how bibliographical methods and hands-on material approaches to printed media can help historians, literary scholars, librarians, and curators engaged in book history, digital humanities, and media research study the movement of cultural representations and stereotypes across and beyond political borders. Using these media forms as agents of cultural contact, mediators, and expressions of identity from Europe, the Americas, and Southeast Asia, we hope to deepen our understanding of how printed textual objects and visual mediums both strengthened and contested political, legal, and social power through the mobilization of cultural objects.

Special note: This formal AHA panel constitutes the first half of a joint interdisciplinary experiment between AHA & MLA members who are fellows and affiliates of the newly formed Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. The second half will be an interactive forum submitted to the MLA called “Teaching with Material Texts” where scholars will demonstrate classroom lessons and/or assignments that interrogate material-textual objects using those same objects physically at hand. Paper presentations will be shorter in the formal AHA panel to maximize discussion time with the audience.

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