ENGL 5277 Cultures of Print in Early Modern Europe

“Print culture”: this term is probably familiar to many scholars and students of English literature, whether or not they are interested in the fields of book history, bibliography, material culture studies, and so on. This course, however, will aim to call the meanings of each of its component parts—that is, of both “print” and “culture”—into question in creative and productive ways.

In our discussions, we’ll explore how the spread of printing technology and the circulation of printed materials in the early modern era extended across centuries and national boundaries, creating not a single homogenous “print culture” but an intersecting web of plural “cultures of print.” Together, we’ll consider: what are some of the major theories of how printed material was produced, circulated, and preserved over time? What is the relationship between print and diverse forms of cultural production, from literature and religion to science and medicine? And how did the emergence of print reshape the experiences of individual readers and book users, even as it also animated larger social and historical trends?