The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature
176 pages, 6 x 9
10 b&w illus.
Release Date:18 Dec 2019
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Release Date:18 Dec 2019
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The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature

University of Massachusetts Press
The true scale of paper production in America from 1690 through the end of the nineteenth century was staggering, with a range of parties participating in different ways, from farmers growing flax to textile workers weaving cloth and from housewives saving rags to peddlers collecting them. Making a bold case for the importance of printing and paper technology in the study of early American literature, Jonathan Senchyne presents archival evidence of the effects of this very visible process on American writers, such as Anne Bradstreet, Herman Melville, Lydia Sigourney, William Wells Brown, and other lesser-known figures.
The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature reveals that book history and literary studies are mutually constitutive and proposes a new literary periodization based on materiality and paper production. In unpacking this history and connecting it to cultural and literary representations, Senchyne also explores how the textuality of paper has been used to make social and political claims about gender, labor, and race.
Senchyne writes paper back into the story of American literary history with implications for book history and literary criticism alike. As he demonstrates, the intersections between print and paper, between ostensible foreground and background, are surprisingly generative, with lasting effects on how we read (and hold and look at) printed works.'—Susan M. Ryan, author of The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace

'Senchyne finds new interpretative possibilities in the main ingredient of books and paper, not just a substrate for writing and printing but a form of expression in its own right.'—John Bidwell, author of American Paper Mills, 1690–1832: A Directory of the Paper Trade with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques

'The Intimacy of Paper
succeeds brilliantly not only as a scholarly contribution for specialists of early and nineteenth-century American culture, but also as an innovative methodological intervention in American Studies more broadly.'—Anglia

Senchyne shows a commitment to rendering visible those too often invisible—be it women using and collecting rags, women working in paper mills, or African Americans frozen in the stereotypes propagated by print media. In turn, his excellent book allows us another way to understand how women (writers) were bound and unbound in paper.'—Women's Studies
JONATHAN SENCHYNE is assistant professor in the Information School and director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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