My book project, tentatively titled, “In the Bookstore: Local Literary Spaces in Antebellum New York City,” offers the first extended study of the history and social life of the bookstore in nineteenth-century America. Located between producers and consumers of books, the bookstore was a crucial site in the cultural geography of print and literacy in nineteenth-century urban America. Where were the bookstores? How did booksellers position their stores in the larger print marketplace? How were bookstores perceived and used by their customers? The bookstore—as building, business, and social space—negotiated questions of access, textual and generic value, as well as promoted models of literary and market engagement. To explore these and related issues, I pursue literary history from the perspective of the physical and cultural space of the bookstore. Developing original methods for analyzing print and literary culture, this project uses the bookstore as the foundation for insights into three related areas: the commercial geography of print in nineteenth-century New York; the social history of literature, taste, and values; and the intellectual history of information technology.
Publications on this research:
“Locating the Bookstore: Geographies of Book Culture in Antebellum New York City,” Book History, Vol. 19: 2016. Awarded the Book History Essay Prize.
“Bookstores,” invited essay contribution to the Oxford History of Popular Print Culture: U.S. Popular Print Culture to 1860, eds. Ronald and Mary Zboray. Forthcoming from Oxford University Press.