ATG Book of the Week: Knowing Books: The Consciousness of Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Title: Knowing Books: The Consciousness of Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Author: Christina Lupton
ISBN: Hardcover: 978-0-8122-4372-7; Ebook  978-0-8122-0521-3
Price:Hardcover: $55;  ebook: $55
Imprint: Philadelphia: Penn Press, 2011


In Knowing Books Christina Lupton examines a variety of eighteenth-century sources, including sermons, graffiti, philosophical texts, and magazines, which illustrate the range and character of mid-century experiments with words announcing their status as physical objects. Books that “know” their own presence on the page and in the reader’s hand become, in Lupton’s account, tantalizing objects whose entertainment value competes with that of realist narrative… Rather than a historical study of print technology, Knowing Books offers a humanist interpretation of the will to cede agency (or consciousness) to media. This horizon of theoretical engagement makes Knowing Books at once an account of the least studied decades of the eighteenth century and a work of relevance for those interested in new attitudes toward media in the twenty-first.”

“Compellingly argued, original in its approach and insights, thoroughly researched, and ranging widely in the theoretical voices it invokes, Knowing Books opens up fresh ways of thinking about the eighteenth century. The project capitalizes on some of the most exciting work in the fields of book history, media studies, materiality, and ‘thing theory,’ and applies it to a body of texts until recently slighted in traditional literary histories of the period.”—Lynn Festa, Rutgers University

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