Wens Tan's Reviews > Old Books and New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in Book and Print Culture

Old Books and New Histories by Leslie Howsam
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's review
Jul 19, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: book-history

Useful introduction to recent developments in book history and notable thinkers, such as historian Robert Darnton and the communications circuit model (1982), bibliographers Thomas R. Adams and Nicolas Barker and the book-centred model (1993), Peter D. McDonald's fleshing out of Darnton's model in his book "British Literary Culture and Publishing Practice 1880-1914" in which he showed numerous social groups form their own communications circuit, and James A. Secord in "Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation'" showed how printed works were appropriated and used in debate, politics, and identity formation.

Howsam noted that history, literature and bibliography offers three distinct approaches to book history. Historians tend to focus on agency and power, literary writers focus on texts and criticisms, while bibliographers focus on the documents and the books as objects.

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