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James J. Connolly, Patrick Collier, Frank Felsenstein, Kenneth R. Hall, and Robert G. Hall, eds. Print Culture Histories Beyond the Metropolis

James J. Connolly, Patrick Collier, Frank Felsenstein, Kenneth R. Hall, and Robert G. Hall, eds. Print Culture Histories Beyond the Metropolis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016. x, 464p., ill. ISBN 9781442650626. US $90.00.

The 14 essays in this collection originate from a 2013 conference held at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, the city depicted in Robert and Helen Lynd’s groundbreaking sociological study, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture (1929). Muncie, a small city in the American “provinces,” was a fitting place for a conference dedicated to investigating “modern print culture, not from the point of view of urban and imperial centres but from that of provincial locales and imperial peripheries” (5).

Innes M. Keighren, Charles W. J. Withers, and Bill Bell. Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773–1859

Innes M. Keighren, Charles W. J. Withers, and Bill Bell. Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773–1859. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015. xiv, 370p., ill. (w/ col. plates). ISBN 9780226429533. US $45 (hardback).

Research in print culture has increasingly come to take account of the way books travel in space as well as time: not for nothing was SHARP’s 2013 conference on the theme “geographies of the book.” This significant and timely volume, drawing on the uniquely rich records of the John Murray archive at the National Library of Scotland, is a major contribution to the study of the journeys made not only by authors, but also by their books.

Jamie Kamph. Tricks of the Trade: Confessions of a Bookbinder. Kristina Lundblad. Bound to be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book, 1840–1914

Jamie Kamph. Tricks of the Trade: Confessions of a Bookbinder. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015. viii, 136p., ill. ISBN 9781584563341. US $24.95 (paperback).

Kristina Lundblad. Bound to be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book, 1840–1914. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015. 336p., ill. ISBN 9781584563136. US $95 (hardback).

Two recent publications from Oak Knoll Press highlight some of the wide range of writing currently on offer about bookbinding. Jamie Kamph is a practicing bookbinder, and Tricks of the Trade consists of 27 personal essays that focus on technical information intended for bookbinders, as well as observations on book decoration and a bit of autobiography. Kristina Lundblad’s Bound to be Modern, in contrast, is a wide-ranging academic overview of nineteenth-century Swedish publishers’ bindings.

Natasha Simonova. Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson

Natasha Simonova. Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. viii, 232p., ill. ISBN 9781137474124. £55 (hardback).

What does Fifty Shades of Grey have in common with Sidney’s Arcadia? The question might at first seem absurd, but Natasha Simonova’s new volume situates both texts within a long tradition of prose continuations, or what we today might call “fan fiction” – continuations of a narrative written by someone other than the story’s original author. This study of prose continuations from the late sixteenth through the mid-eighteenth century provides an intelligent and nuanced intervention in the history of authorship.

Jessica DeSpain. Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book

Jessica DeSpain. Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. xiv, 210p., ill. ISBN 9781409432005. £60 (hardback).

Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book centres on the transatlantic book trade from the 1840s through the 1890s, looking at the circulation of British books in the United States and American books in Britain. Basing her argument on extensive archival research into multiple editions of reprints, as well as on reviews, advertisements and readers’ letters, Jessica DeSpain details the “indiscriminate nature of transatlantic transmission” (11), offering an analysis of the different ways that books were reframed for various American and British audiences.

“A True Friend of the Cause”: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement

“A True Friend of the Cause”: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement
The Grolier Club, New York City
7 December 2016–4 February 2017

“I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery!” The placard featuring this statement in bold, black letters catches the eye of the visitor immediately upon entering the first floor gallery of the Grolier Club. First attributed to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1845, the statement “took on a life of its own in the abolitionist movement and was often quoted,” for instance in African-American historian William Cooper Nell’s The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), a copy of which is displayed in the same showcase. While Lafayette’s involvement in the American Revolution has been extensively documented, his role as an ardent abolitionist has received little attention.

Struggle and Story: Canada in Print

Struggle and Story: Canada in Print
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto
20 March–9 September 2017

Retired Director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Anne Dondertman, is quite right in her Foreword to the exhibition catalogue of Struggle and Story: Canada in Print that the “Fisher exhibition will no doubt be one of dozens if not hundreds of exhibitions celebrating our nation held throughout the country during 2017 [ie., Canada’s sesquicentennial of Confederation, the uniting of the provinces into a country]” (5). I agree – and I think Library patrons will also – with the two reasons that she gives in setting this exhibition apart from any other: first, she notes “the deep knowledge of the curator,” Pearce Carefoote, who “enthusiastically embraced this challenge almost from the time he first joined the staff in 2002” (5); second, she writes of the extraordinary repository of unique and Rare documents of Canadiana preserved at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library through traditions “even predating the establishment of special collections [of the University of Toronto] as a separate department in 1950” (5).

Australasian Rare Book School: The Origins of Rare Books

Australasian Rare Book School
The Origins of Rare Books
University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ
30 January–3 February 2017

This summer, thanks to SHARP’s excellent scholarship program, I was fortunate enough to attend the Australasian Rare Book Summer School at the University of Otago. I participated in The Origins of Rare Books course, studying under the instruction of Professor David McKitterick, Fellow Librarian and Vice-Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Over five days, we examined changing ideas of rarity as they relate to books, framed by a formalised study of European rare book collecting and book history from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Paulette M. Rothbauer, Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Knut Oterholm, eds. Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory, Practice, Politics

Paulette M. Rothbauer, Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Knut Oterholm, eds. Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory, Practice, Politics. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2016. ix, 404p. ISBN 9781771121736. US$ 85.00.

Must have been fun. On June 11-12, 2013, 60 scholars gathered at Akershus University’s College of Applied Sciences in Oslo, Norway to share their research on readers and reading. Plotting the Reading Experience contains 23 papers presented there that focus on readers and their reading experiences. The volume is organized into the three broad yet interdependent categories: theory, practice, and politics. Essays embrace a variety of research methodologies and disciplinary approaches; cover the reading of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by children and adult readers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and focus on the Western world, with generous attention to Scandinavian readers.

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 222p., ill. ISBN 9780823272891. US$ 27.00 (paperback), US$ 95.00 (hardcover).

I have written a number of reviews, but rarely do I crack open a book to review and immediately become so immersed that I have trouble putting the book down. Only a couple pages in, I found myself scribbling notes in the margins, asking questions, and tying the subject matter to my own research and exhibitions. Fugitive Testimony is interdisciplinary, comparing and contrasting historical slave narratives and narratives in contemporary art.