Title

Book History Unbound: Transactions of the Written Word Made Public

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of History

Volume

38

Issue

1

First Page

69

Last Page

81

Abstract

A critical examination from the perspective of the historical disciplines of a multi-disciplinary field of study, this essay argues that the method and theory associated with the history of the book are valuable because they have the potential to capture evidence about cultural patterns and relationships. Drawing upon the work of other historians who have used this kind of evidence, the article stresses the elements of agency and community. The book is conceptualized broadly, not only as material object (as in bibliography) and written text (as in literary studies), but also as a cultural transaction. Readers are characterized as participating in an implicit transaction whereby they engaged both individually and collectively with the written culture in which they lived; that culture was in turn mediated by the book-trade agents who gave texts their material form and commercial value.

Comments

This article was first published in the Canadian Journal of History (http://www.usask.ca/history/cjh/e/iss/toc/0304.shtml).