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Mapping Bookstores: 19th-Century American Literary Spaces and 21st-Century Literary Studies
Part of the Department of English Seminar Series
Amid the rise of large publishing firms in 19th-century urban America, hundreds of independent retailers sold their books out of stores grand or humble, ephemeral or dynastic. A survey of these booksellers and bookstores deepens our understanding not only of the commercial topography and patterns of the antebellum book trade, but also the various roles played by these book spaces in the cultural geography of an expanding urban center. Drawing on my research into 19th-century American book culture, this talk weaves together two threads: one, an argument that the social life and cultural work of the emerging urban retail bookstore informed and shaped antebellum literary culture, and two, an argument about method. More specifically—that engaging the spatial dimensions of literary history through digital mapping offers important new modes of visualizing and studying book cultures.
Speaker: Kristen Doyle Highland, Assistant Professor, American University of Sharjah
Dr. Highland joined AUS this fall, relocating from New York City, where she earned her PhD in English Literature from New York University. Her research examines the material and cultural aspects of reading and writing in 18th and 19th century America, and her current research project is a history of the social life of bookstores in New York City before 1860.
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