H-120b. Textual Connected Histories: Books and Reading in the Early Modern European World (10 hours)

Roger Chartier John H. Pollack

Course Length: 10 hours
Schedule: 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. ET (including breaks), 14–18 June 2021
Format: Online
Cost: $750

Each session in this 10-hour course will present multiple approaches to the study of connected textual histories. By following the trajectories of a work, a text, or a word, we will investigate the different meanings and stakes involved in various textual migrations, including translations, editions, revisions, and illustrations. The course will address several fundamental questions: How were words that were spoken by Indigenous peoples transcribed, translated, and printed in European texts at the time of the “discoveries” and colonization? How did certain works become “globalized”? What were the reasons for the transformations of the “same” work’s significance? How might the mobility of the meaning and the materiality of the text be associated?

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. In our course, we will investigate what these approaches may mean for book history. We will focus upon topics including textual geographies (geographies of the book and geographies within books), textual migrations between genres and languages, the circulation of images and illustrations, maps, and the relationships between orality and print.

Our week will center upon studies of texts and books from the early modern period with complex connected histories. Each day will be divided into three parts: 1) a lecture, 2) a close reading (or viewing) of primary materials from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, 3) a discussion including references to the works or works-in-progress of the course participants. 

Admitted students will be supplied with optional readings closer to the start of the course; there are no readings that must be completed in advance.


Monday, 14 June 2021
Translations: Words, Lists, and Texts. Columbus, Léry, Montaigne 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Text and Images: Las Casas (1552–1822)

Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Edition as Translation: Shakespeare (1593–1790)

Thursday, 17 June 2021
Global Cervantes: Don Quixote of La Mancha

Friday, 18 June 2021
Maps: Travels, Trade, Knowledge, Fiction

Course History

Roger Chartier and John H. Pollack teach this course.


  • 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.

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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.

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