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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Harrington Symposium

race, ethnicity, & the history of books

Race, Ethnicity, and the History of Books

A Symposium


February 7, 2009

10 AM to 4:30 PM

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Organizer: Matt Cohen, Harrington Fellow

Free and open to the public 

Schedule: [download

Sponsored by the Donald D. Harrington Fellowship and the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin

THE STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF BOOKS has changed the landscape of research in the humanities.  From Elizabeth Eisenstein’s argument for the democratizing power of print to the latest debates over the relationship between print culture and internet media, research on the ways that books are made, circulated, and read has changed both understandings of cultural history and how we understand ourselves.  But historians of the book have tended to avoid or downplay questions of race and ethnicity in their analyses.  When they have taken up such questions, the story has been largely the same: through syncretic uses of oral, written, and printed communications, subaltern populations both accede to and resist domination.  In an attempt to foster new stories, this symposium will ask a number of questions: In what ways, if any, does an attention to race and ethnicity complicate or advance the history of the book?  In what ways, if any, does the history of the book complicate or advance the study of race and ethnicity?  Are there opportunities for methodological innovation, shifts in the periodization of “print culture,” or new narratives of the long history of communications media, that are opened up by the category of “race”?  What might be the relations between the political and analytical benefits of bringing these categories and methodologies to bear upon each other—and what might be the costs or ethics of doing so?

George Bornstein, University of Michigan
Joanna Brooks, San Diego State University
Kirsten Gruesz, University of California - Santa Cruz
Sara Hudson, Yale University
Kinohi Nishikawa, Duke University
Chris Teuton, University of Denver
John K. Young, Marshall University

Ezra Greenspan, Southern Methodist University
Robert Gross, University of Connecticut
Robert Warrior, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

James Cox, University of Texas at Austin
Janine Barchas, University of Texas at Austin
Michael Winship, University of Texas at Austin

For more information, contact Matt Cohen at

Harry Ransom Center:
Harrington Fellows Program:
Department of English:

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