H-120. Textual Mobilities: Works, Books & Reading Across Early Modern Europe

Roger Chartier John H. Pollack

“Be prepared for, and excited about, a very inter-disciplinary conversation!” — 2016 student

This course considers histories of books, texts, and reading using the lens of connected history. The new global history has brought an ever-increasing scholarly focus on exchanges, on trade and colonialism, and on the movements of peoples, ideas, and goods in and across spaces. Here we will investigate what these approaches may mean for book history. Working with, but also against, the national book histories that are so essential to the field of book history itself, we will focus upon topics including textual geographies (geographies of the book and geographies within books); translation, textual migration, and adaptation; and forms of orality in written and printed texts.

We will discuss some essential texts in book history, including works by Petrucci, Febvre and Martin, Eisenstein, Johns, and McKenzie. We will also focus on close studies of texts and books from the early modern period with complex, connected histories. These case studies will bridge the European nation-states and cross from “Old” to “New” Worlds. Authors we will discuss include Cervantes, Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Castiglione, and Las Casas. Here, the resources of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts will be of vital importance: the seminar will leave ample time for examination of works in multiple languages and in multiple editions.

Participants are invited to propose their own research on related topics (not necessarily limited to early modern Europe). Time will be set aside during the week for discussion of individual research projects.

Course History

Roger Chartier and John H. Pollack teach this course for the first time.
Apply Now

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Related Courses


  • Roger Chartier
  • John H. Pollack

Roger Chartier

Roger Chartier is a Professeur in the Collège de France, Directeur d’études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, and Annenberg Visiting Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. His work is devoted to  the history of written culture, history of the book and history of reading, and the relationship between literature and history. His most recent books in English are Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); Cardenio between Cervantes and Shakespeare: The Story of a Lost Play (Polity Press, 2012), and The Author’s Hand and the Printer’s Mind (Polity Press, 2014). His next book, to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, will be titled Won in Translation.

Full Bio »

John H. Pollack

John H. Pollack is Library Specialist for Public Services at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he has held since 1995. His responsibilities include working with scholars in the reading room, and teaching and organizing class sessions centered on the collections. He has assisted Roger Chartier for over a decade in the preparation of seminars and class exhibitions. John holds a Ph.D. in English from Penn and specializes in Early American literature and history. He has published on colonial writings from New France and edited a volume of essays on Benjamin Franklin and colonial education. He is currently working on a monograph on the circulation of Native words in early European texts on the Americas.

Full Bio »