& abstracts


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Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

2003-2004 Schedule & Abstracts

All Sessions to be held in the Lilly Library Lounge on Monday afternoons from 4 to 5:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted below.

October 13, 2003:
Jonathan Sheehan (History Department, IU Bloomington)

In early January 1761, a group of explorers set out from Copenhagen aboard the Danish war ship Greenland with their sights on the antiquities of the Red Sea, hoping to uncover the secrets of Arabia and bring them back to European scholars hungry for information about the Biblical world. None was hungrier than the German Orientalist and Bible translator Johann David Michaelis, who organized the so-called Niebuhr expedition to feed his appetite for the kind of concrete data absent from Biblical scholarship until the late eighteenth century. This was, of course, a peculiar idea. Arabia--and particularly Yemen, their principal destination--was not the stage for the great dramas of the Old and New Testaments. Its antiquities, dialects, flora, and fauna were untouched by the events described in the Christian Bible. And yet, as it turned out, this was precisely the attraction for scholars like Michaelis, who hoped to find in these Oriental archives particularly durable monuments of the ancient Near East. If the spiritual aura of the Holy Land had long corroded the data transmitted by its explorers--as unfamiliar customs were woven into the customary Biblical narrative--the stony wastelands of Yemen offered resources for alienating the reader from this familiar Jewish story, for making the Bible strange. Michaelis would put these resources to work in his prodigious Old Testament translation, a work that consistently employed Oriental antiquities to defamiliarize the German Bible. This project, I suggest, was one part of a larger effort in the later eighteenth century to recuperate the meaning of a Bible shorn from the comfortable cradle of theology. Using the Orient to estrange the Bible was, in the end, part of a wide enterprise to reconstitute the foundations of Biblical authority, an enterprise that would make the Bible an integral part of the "culture"--the spiritual heritage--of the West.

JONATHAN SHEEHAN took his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 and has been Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington since the fall of 2000. He held a fellowship at Princeton University's Center for the Study of Religion in the 2002-03 Academic year. He has published in Representations, The Journal of the History of Ideas, and the American Historical Review, and his THE ENLIGHTENMENT BIBLE: TRANSLATION, SCHOLARSHIP, CULTURE is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2004. He is presently at work on a second book, THE BIBLE AND THE HUMAN SCIENCES IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE.

October 27, 2003:
Paul Benhamou (French Department, Purdue University)

I have two major objectives in this paper: (1) To show how the increased demand for forbidden books, known as Livres Philosophiques in the underground booktrade, was met by the creation of unregulated public institutions called Cabinets de Lecture, devoted to the rental of books and newspapers in Paris and the provinces. And (2) To respond to Darnton's harshest critics who have accused him of having invented "another" Enlightenment, one not simply based on the works of the Great Philosophes (Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, d'Holbach) but which has readers reading ALL kinds of books--pornographic novels as well as the works of the Philosophes.

PAUL BENHAMOU received his Licence from the University of Dijon and an MA and PhD from the University of Iowa before proceeding on to a long and successful career in the French Department at Purdue University. He has published extensively on the pre-revolutionary French periodical press, on the reading trade in Lyons, and on the Anti-Philosophes (particularly Elie-Catherine Freron), and has recently presented a paper in a symposium on the Societe Typographique de Neuchatel, the Swiss publishing firm that has been the focus of much of Robert Darnton's work. In 2001, Benhamou was honored by the French Government with the prestigious Palmes Academiques Award for his service in promoting French culture and language in the United States.

November 3, 2003:
Peter Lindenbaum (English Department, IU Bloomington)

England in the Restoration period (1660-89) was a sharply divided nation, politically and religiously. The conflict between those promoting the conservative reaction after the Puritan Revolution of 1640-60 and the new Whig opposition to that conservative backlash culminated in yet another revolution (that of 1688) and a religious settlement that left a substantial minority of the population permanently outside the state-sponsored Church of England. Bookshops, quite understandably, both reflected and contributed to the social and religious fragmentation as well as to the sense of cohesiveness within specific groups amidst that fragmentation.

The London book trade of the late seventeenth century was made up of a large number of relatively small bookshops and publishing firms, many of them targeting a very specific and narrowly defined clientele. This paper will examine in detail the practices and careers of two of the booksellers of religious works of the period, the relatively unknown Brabazon Aylmer and the major trade presence Thomas Parkhurst, who, to judge from their lists of publications, seem to share moderate Non-Conformist religious views. Close examination of their respective lists suggests, however, meaningful differences between them, enough to explain why Parkhurst flourished in the trade and why Aylmer ultimately failed. Such an examination reveals as well how a bookshop could and would serve as a gathering place, akin to a coffee house or political club, where customers and authors might gather, pick up the latest books that fit their taste, and meet others of similar views. Booksellers thereby become significant players in the political and religious life of the nation.

PETER LINDENBAUM has spent his whole academic career in the English Department at Indiana University. Only in the last dozen or so years, though, has he focused on the History of the Book, having started with an examination of the contract John Milton signed for the publication of Paradise Lost. He is presently completing a book-length study of Milton's relations with members of the publishing trade generally and that author's role in the history of Authorship, to be entitled PUBLISHING MILTON: THE POET IN THE MARKETPLACE. He is continuing as well with a series of essays on the London book trade of the 17th century, of which the present talk is an example.

November 17, 2003:
Jeffrey Wasserstrom (History Department, IU Bloomington)

Scholars working on and journalists reporting from authoritarian states often treat the kinds of books for sale and the sorts of publications banned in such places as a useful barometer of political life. What does it mean, then, that dramatic changes have taken place in China in the last two decades or so when it comes to the kinds of books you can buy, the range of foreign publications being translated, and the types of stores that sell books? This talk will explore questions of this nature, drawing on the experiences the presenter has had buying books in China on periodic trips to that country taken between 1986 and 2002. Book-buying will be used as a starting point for consideration, in passing, of a wide variety of obviously and perhaps not so obviously related topics, from the nature of the Chinese "public sphere" to the current global fascination with George Orwell, and from the significance of increasing Chinese use of the internet to the curious connections that bookstores have with libraries and coffee shops in China and elsewhere. The talk will be accompanied by a good bit of "show and tell" of one sort or another.

JEFFREY WASSERSTROM is Professor of History and Director of the East Asian Studies Center here at IU. He is author of STUDENT PROTESTS IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY CHINA: THE VIEW FROM SHANGHAI (Stanford, 1991) and editor or co-editor of four different volumes of essays, the most recent of which is TWENTIETH-CENTURY CHINA: NEW APPROACHES (Routledge, 2003). In addition to publishing in purely academic venues, he writes for assorted general interest magazines and is a frequent contributor to TLS.

December 1, 2003:
Stephen J. Stein (Religious Studies Department, IU Bloomington)

Among the manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the eighteenth-century New England minister and religious thinker perhaps best known for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is an unusual "book," a 910-page leather-bound manuscript volume which he referred to as his "Blank Bible." It is anything but blank, for it is a manuscript commentary on the whole of the Bible containing more than 5500 separate entries by him. I am preparing the first printed edition of this hitherto unpublished manuscript, as part of the The Works of Jonathan Edwards being published by Yale University Press.

In this presentation I shall describe and illustrate the unique nature of this manuscript volume which has been largely ignored by scholars working on Edwards, its unusual history which includes a transatlantic voyage, and the ways in which it promises to assist with the construction of a fuller picture of Edwards's religious thought and theological program. In addition, the talk will address some of the particular editorial challenges posed by this manuscript which might properly be described as either an editor's nightmare or an engaging adventure for the textual editor. The presentation will include photographic illustrations from the manuscript itself.

STEPHEN J. STEIN is Chancellor's Professor of Religious Studies at IU. He was the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award in 1991 and the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research in 1995. He is author, among other works, of THE SHAKER EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA (Yale, 1992; winner of the Philip Schaff Prize), and COMMUNITIES OF DISSENT: A HISTORY OF ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS IN AMERICA (Oxford, 2003), and has editied an earlier volume (vol. 15) in the Yale Edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards, NOTES ON SCRIPTURE (1998).

Monday, February 16:
The State's Control of Literacy: Socialist France in the 1980s
Joelle Bahloul (Anthropology Department, IU Bloomington)

In her talk, Professor Bahloul will describe a research project she conducted in the late 1980s on reading practices in France, with an emphasis on a government-produced category, i.e. "weak readers" (Lectures Précaires, Paris: 1987). Initiated by a French Ministry of Culture's program for developing literacy among weak readers, the project ended up being a challenging exposition of the folk relation to the book in this category of culture consumers. The book is here defined not only in its materiality but also as a cultural capital to acquire in a selective genre classification, and through complex forms of social interactions.

JOËLLE BAHLOUL is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. She has done extensive research on Jewish communities in France and in Italy, focusing on migration and the diasporic experience, gender and kinship, urban domestic ritual, collective memory, the semantics of old Jewish quarters in Europe, and the sociology of cultural practices. She has written, among other items, LE CULTE DE LA TABLE DRESSÉE (Paris, 1983) and THE ARCHITECTURE OF MEMORY: A JEWISH-MUSLIM HOUSEHOLD IN COLONIAL ALGERIA (Cambridge University Press, 1996; originally published in French in 1992).

Monday, March 1:
Coping with Information Overload in Early Modern Europe
Ann Blair (History Department, Harvard University)

I will present material from my project in progress on the methods early modern European scholars devised for coping with an overabundance of books. My project includes a survey of the major reference genres in use in early modern Europe, variously designed as shortcuts to reading all those books one couldn't read oneself, or as guides to reading and books. In this talk I will focus on the genre of bibliography and especially the work of Conrad Gesner (1516-65). I will discuss parallels between Gesner's bibliographical and his natural historical writings, with a special focus on his methods of working, from note-taking to alphabetization.

ANN BLAIR is Professor of History at Harvard, where she teaches courses on early modern France, the history of the book, and science and religion, among other topics. Her publications include THE THEATER OF NATURE: JEAN BODIN AND RENAISSANCE SCIENCE (1997) and articles on various aspects of early modern natural philosophy (university teaching, the Problemata Aristotelis, "pious philosophy," and the interaction of Latin and the vernacular) and, from her current project: "Annotating and Indexing Natural Philosophy," in Books and the Sciences in History, ed. Frasca-Spada and Jardine (2000) and "Coping with Information Overload in Early Modern Europe," in the Journal of the History of Ideas (2003). She was the recipient of a prestigious five-year MacArthur Fellowship in 2002.

Monday, March 8:
The Making of Child's Ballads in Its Original and New Digitalized Form
Mary Ellen Brown (Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department, IU Bloomington) and David Kleiman (President and CEO, Heritage Muse, Inc., New York, New York)

Harvard's first English professor, Francis James Child, is best known for his work on the ballad, most particularly THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH POPULAR BALLADS (1882-1898). Long the hegemonic edition of balladry, it contains 305 different ballad stories, in multiple versions, with copious historical and comparative headnotes. The first part of the seminar will focus on this published work and suggest how Child was able to do what he did, situated far from the manuscript and oral sources deemed essential. In the process of doing his work, he was able to create an international network or champ de ballad which facilitated his own work. This epistolary research methodology will figure prominently in the discussion.

This will be followed by a presentation focusing on the issues and choices in usage, business, and technology involved in building digital publication projects in the Humanities. In particular, this part of the seminar will focus on the development of THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH POPULAR BALLADS in a digital edition by Heritage Muse. This re-publication is considerably more than a digital facsimile of the original. It is a fully integrated collection of multi-media documents, sound, and imagine files, built to serve the needs of scholars, performers, and interested readers.

MARY ELLEN BROWN, Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University-Bloomington, is currently working on "The Making of Child's Ballads," thus her interest in this particular discussion. She has published widely on the ballad, most especially on the intellectual discourses and history of the genre (see William Motherwell's Cultural Politics, 2001; The Bedesman and the Hodbearer: The Epistolary Friendship of F.J. Child and William Walker, 2001).

DAVID KLEIMAN is the founder and president of Heritage Muse, Inc and ESPB Publishing, Ltd. and president of DKI, Inc., a systems consulting and database development firm. He has long been interested in folk music as both educator and performer. He is Vice President of the New York Folk Music Society, performs regularly, and is the co-founder of the Traditional Music of the Sea Festival at Mystic Seaport Museum.

Wednesday, March 31:
The Contemporary Art and Design of Book Space: Thoughts for Critical Practice in Traditional and Electronic Media
Johanna Drucker (Media Studies, University of Virginia)

JOHANNA DRUCKER has published and lectured extensively on topics related to the history of typography, artists' books, and visual art. She is currently the Robertson Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia where she is Professor in the Department of English and Director of Media Studies.

Her scholarly books include: Theorizing Modernism (Columbia University Press, 1994), The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (University of Chicago Press, 1994); The Alphabetic Labyrinth (Thames and Hudson, 1995), and The Century of Artists' Books (Granary, 1995). Her most recent collection, Figuring the Word, was published in November, 1998, (Granary Books).

In addition to her scholarly work, Drucker is internationally known as a book artist and experimental, visual poet. Her work has been exhibited and collected in special collections in libraries and museums including the Getty Center for the Humanities, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Marvin and Ruth Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry, the New York Public Library, Houghton Library at Harvard University, and many others. Recent titles include Narratology (1994), Prove Before Laying (1997), The Word Made Flesh (1989; 1995) The History of the/my Wor(l)d (1990; 1994), Night Crawlers on the Web (2000), Nova Reperta.(JABbooks, 1999), Emerging Sentience (JABbooks 2001), the last two in collaboration with Brad Freeman. A Girl's Life, a collaboration with painter Susan Bee, was published in July 2002.

Monday, April 12:
Investing in Letter Writing in Early America
Konstantin Dierks (History Department, Indiana University, Bloomington)

In the Atlantic World over the course of the eighteenth century, letter writing became widespread in social practice and salient in cultural discourse. Faced with an era of bewildering geographical mobility, economic metamorphosis, and political upheaval, many literate Anglo-Americans turned to letter writing to accommodate themselves to an increasingly fluid society where social bonds were fragile and social position was uncertain. This new attraction to letter writing entailed a set of active investments -- in material resources and social activities that people had not so readily pursued before, and in personal identities and cultural outlooks that they had not been so concerned with before.

This paper examines this process through the lens of a transatlantic print culture burgeoning in the eighteenth century. A variety of genres of books -- letter manuals, grammar books, spelling books, penmanship manuals -- constructed an image of the letter writer at desk with paper and pen, as well as an image of letter writing in society. Even if the writing of letters was often described in highly technical terms, the material investments underpinning letter writing were nevertheless de-emphasized. Print culture thus embedded letter writing within a broader "consumer revolution" in the eighteenth century Atlantic World, at a transitional phase when investing in a cultural style was seemingly detached from investing in material objects.

KONSTANTIN DIERKS received his PhD from Brown University in 1999 and is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has published articles on Letter Manuals and on the Familiar Letter in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (2000) and in Letter Writing as Social Practice, ed. Barton and Hall (1999). He is currently preparing a book manuscript for publication entitled "Writing the Self: Letter Writing in Early America."