This seminar will focus upon Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, and in particular upon his detailed descriptions of what and how he read from when he was a child, on his material practices as a writer, on his fascination with authorship and anonymity, and on his work in every aspect of the book trade. The Autobiography gives a fascinating account of Franklin’s struggles to find books, borrowing books from friends and from rich men’s libraries, and finally founding the Library Company, the first lending library in colonial America. As a writer, Franklin developed a critical obsession with questions of “authorship,” writing under the name of others and under a range of pseudonyms, allowing his own name to be attached to a friend’s writing, defending the plagiarism of a preacher, and exploring the advantages and disadvantages of circulating texts in print. At the same time, the seminar will explore Franklin’s involvement in every aspect of the book trade: delivering newspapers, training as a compositor and pressman, making woodcuts and an engraving press, working to set up printing houses, printing money and the first novel in colonial America, editing a newspaper, selling his own and imported books, collecting rags for paper-making, and heavily investing in the paper trade. Finally, the seminar will examine how Franklin wrote The Autobiography, how and why it was first printed in French after his death, and why the first two English editions were translations of the French edition with no reference to any manuscript by Franklin.
Peter Stallybrass is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, Director of the History of Material Texts, and Co-Director of the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent books are O Casaco de Marx (Marx’s Coat), published in Brazil in 1999, and Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory, written with Ann Rosalind Jones, which won the James Russell Lowell Prize from the MLA in 2001. He is at present working on the material culture of reading, writing, and note-taking in early modern England and colonial America, and he will be co-curating an exhibition on “Benjamin Franklin and the Book” in 2006.
Applications available at the web address shown below.
Deadline: February 25, 2005
DATES AND LOCATION: July 10-15, 2005, at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
ELIGIBILITY: The Summer Institutes in Literary Studies are open to scholars who received a Ph.D. within the last ten years and who teach in departments of literature or other relevant disciplines at colleges or universities in the United States
STIPENDS & EXPENSES: Participation in an institute carries a stipend of $1,500. The National Humanities Center will cover the cost of travel, lodging, meals, and texts.
FORMAT: Each institute will combine extensive seminar discussion with small group work and individual consultation with the seminar leader.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Participants will have individual apartments in a residence hotel within ten minutes of the Center. The Center will provide van service to and from the hotel.
This program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Richard R. Schramm
Vice President for Education Programs
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