Thoreau’s relation to print culture was complicated and at times contradictory, but from his writing life to his family business, he was shaped by it. Scholars note that he was both successful and a failure as a professional author. He published books and articles made possible by technological changes in papermaking and printing to his west on the Housatonic River, and business and market developments in publishing to his east in Boston. Some of these changes brought him a measure of money and renown, and others left him surrounded in his own home by an “inert mass” of unsold paper and print. He wanted to publish in the periodical press and with successful book publishers, and he sold graphite to printers to supply the making of plates. Yet, at the same time he also argued that print offered an insufficient secondhand experience of the world of bodies and things. Nineteenth-century American print culture offered challenges and openings to Transcendentalist thinkers. Noting the ever-expanding scale of print production of print in their lifetimes, Emerson lamented that one could no longer hope to read everything printed, and Thoreau argued against reading anything except the world itself. Both continued to publish their work in books and periodicals. “Much is published, but little printed,” Thoreau writes in “Sounds,” leaving readers to wonder what it meant to leave an impression on the world in the middle of the nineteenth century (W 111).”
Review Essay on Black Women and 19th-century American Print Culture
Tables of student evaluations of RUTR as a whole, and of the project in particular.
Link to the project description and course syllabus for RUTR 2470.
This essay argues that greater attention to the significance of the material culture of print, especially in early African American print culture, shows how technologies of racialization emerge in conjunction with technologies of printed words and images. The stereotype is perhaps the most familiar case. In one sense it offers quick reproduction of legible text, and in another it of- fers quick reproduction of a legible social type. In the rest of this essay, I ex- amine how another technology of legibility, black/white dualism, structures both print legibility and racial legibility. This essay proposes that the material culture of whiteness in antebellum print culture participates in nineteenth- century racial formation by modeling how whiteness is to be seen while un- seen, providing the structural backdrop against which marks or types become legible.
The development of a professionalized, highly centralized printmaking industry in northern Europe during the mid-sixteenth century has been argued to be the inevitable result of prints’ efficacy at reproducing images, and thus encouraging mass production. However, it is unclear whether such a centralized structure was truly inevitable, and if it persisted through the seventeenth century. This paper uses network analysis to infer these historical print production networks from two large databases of existing prints in order to characterize whether and how centralization of printmaking networks changed over the course of this period, and how these changes may have influenced individual printmakers.
This chapter argues that the sexy librarian stereotype emerged at the end of the twentieth century from the confluence between sexual liberation, free speech movements and print pornography. It focuses on a series of librarian themed pornographic paperbacks published in the 1970s and 1980s by Greenleaf Classics. These stories, although flimsy plot-wise, tend to be obsessed with the idea of liberating stuffy librarians from the shackles of sexual conservatism, thereby dramatizing some of the social struggles surrounding obscenity cases and the move to deregulate print materials.
Computational analysis of the potential historical professional networks inferred from surviving print impressions offers novel insight into the evolution of early modern artistic printmaking in Europe. This analysis traces a longue durée print production history that examines the changing ways in which different regional printmaking communities interacted between 1550 and 1750, highlighting the powerful impact of demographic forces and calling in to question narratives based on single key individuals or the emergence of specific national schools.
Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío once posed the following question concerning the effects of U.S. domination of Cuba 15 years following the Spanish American War: “¿Qué espectáculo ofrece hoy día ese pueblo al espectador imparcial? El de una colonia disimulada donde a las aspiraciones de veinte años de lucha ha sucedido un oscuro servilismo al oro yanqui” (“Refutación” 111). Darío suggests that readers visually perceive the situation, that they trust “impartial spectators” in order to truly comprehend the U.S. domination in the region. Spectacles are events based on the optics of the consuming observers; viewers who, at their own leisure, decipher visual productions and performances. Unsurprisingly, Darío himself is the informed spectator and enlightens readers to the colonialist and financial burdens imposed on Cuba. The poet continually implemented this didactic maneuver to uncover the “spectacles” of U.S. domination following el desastre of 1898. The spectacle of the “lucha” of U.S.-Latin American relations, as construed by Darío, is no more evident than in the first printing of his seminal poem “A Roosevelt” in Madrid magazine Helios in 1904.