French Book Trade volumes launched

They’re here! The first two volumes dedicated to reporting the results of the FBTEE project are in our hands. They were on display at a pre-publication reception at SHARP2018 here at Western Sydney University last night, at which distinguised book historian and French revolutionary scholar Martyn Lyons introduced both works.

 

In his conclusion Professor Lyons suggested that ‘you need to read these books if you are interested in French cultural history. You need to read these books if you are interested in book history. You need to read these books if you are interested in the enlightenment. And you need to read these books if you want to know what to do with numbers.’

Praise indeed!

We hope that these are landmark studies will become classics of their kind, establishing once and for all the power of digital humanities approaches to enrich and significantly revise our understandings of some of the most important historical questions.

The cover blurb praise for both volumes would seem to support this aspiration. Jeremy D. Popkin writes of my volume:

“Using the latest digital-humanities techniques, Simon Burrows’s book gives us new insights into the readers and publishers of the Enlightenment era. His conclusions challenge the popular interpretations of scholars such as Robert Darnton and Jonathan Israel and force us to rethink the notion of “Enlightenment bestsellers”. This is a valuable contribution to book history and the history of the circulation of ideas.”

Comments on Mark Curran’s volume are perhaps even more glowing:

“A striking achievement. Curran’s commendably exhaustive delving into the STN’s superb business archives and his use of digital humanities methodologies to form and to test hypotheses adds a renewed level of relevance to key questions about the European Enlightenment and the role of the STN within it.” –  Colin Jones, Professor of History, Queen Mary University of London, UK

“For those with an interest in the history of the 18th-century book trade and the dissemination of knowledge in Enlightenment Europe, this is a work of major importance. Curran knows the rich archives of Neufchatel as well as anyone, and he communicates his important and provocative findings with liveliness and grace.” – Darrin M. McMahon, Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor, Dartmouth College, USA

Happy reading !

 

 

 

 

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FBTEE database and website down time

We have been advised that the FBTEE database and websites will be migrated between servers next week. As Monday is a public holiday in NSW, that means that they may be down for all or part of the period 12-15 June. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

George Rude Seminar proceedings

We are delighted to announce that the proceedings of the 20th George Rude Seminar, held at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta campus last year, are now available here. Readers of this blog will probably be particularly interested in the latest article on FBTEE ‘Forgotten Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France‘; Alicia Montoya’s piece on our partner project, MEDIATE; and even, perhaps, in reading the latest round in the soap-opera saga of Darnton versus Burrows.

Waratah & Thistle: Angus & Robertson Symposium

One of the most exciting aspects of the FBTEE project has been watching other book trade archives being opened up for further study. Yesterday at the State Library of New South Wales we had the opportunity to see how our partner project, ARCHivER is contributing to the opening up of research on the Angus and Robertson archives, which are held by the library. Co-convened by FBTEE chief investigator, Dr Jason Ensor, and held in partnership with the Western Sydney University Digital Humanities Research Group, the Angus and Robertson symposium brought together several generations of Australian book historians, library professionals, senior Angus and Robertson executives  (including Richard Walsh) and friends of the library. The event showcased both the importance of the archives and the firm for understanding Australian literature and culture during the twentieth century, when it was a dominant force in Australian publishing and bookselling, and the progress being made towards revealing further treasures within the archive. These include the efforts of expert cataloguers (led by Ann Peck, who gave a magisterial overview of the archive) and academics, including Dr Jason Ensor and Dr Helen Bones, who introduced their work on the ARCHivER project, which will tag and apply linked data principles to a significant sub-set of digitized Angus and Robertson papers. Dr Bones published some reflections on this work for the State Library’s blog ahead of the symposium, available here.

In addition to the materials held at the SLNSW, we got to see for the first time images of some of the material recently discovered by FBTEE researchers Professor Simon Burrows (author of this post) and Dr Katie McDonough in the Bibliotheque nationale de France, which holds an extensive collection of Angus and Robertson book catalogues spanning many decades. Many of these catalogues appear not to be available among the estimated 900,000+ documents in the SLNSW, and as Dr Jason Ensor showed in his presentation, they contain valuable insights into how the firm positioned itself internationally. The global significance of Angus and Robertson’s trade was a repeated theme: Helen Bones spoke informatively about the firm’s trans-Tasman trade in her discussion of the uses of ARCHivER; Jason himself discussed their trading of books and rights through the London office and at the Frankfurt book fairs; and Angus & Robertson veteran John Ferguson, who was the subject of many of Jason’s remarks concerning London and Frankfurt, was very gracious in giving Jason’s interpretation a thumbs’ up and ‘spot on’.

Equally, the archive now contains extensive newly digitized interview material deposited by Dr Neil James, who created them during meetings with company employees and executives during his oral history researches on the company. In a thoughtful keynote address, Dr James discussed some of the valuable new lines of enquiry for future research into the Angus and Robertson archives. Among areas he highlighted were the graphic history revealed by the thousands of dust-jackets and illustrations in the archive, some of them created by leading artists and designers such as Norman Lindsay and forgotten authors. One such author was Zora Cross, the subject of a presentation by Cathy Perkins, whose daring Songs of Love and Life broke taboos concerning women writers discussing sex and was a publishing sensation in 1917 and accompanied many Anzac troops on campaign.

Angus and Robertson has always been known for its role in curating a sense of Australian culture, both through the literature it published and its iconic Australian publishing projects including The Australian Encyclopaedia, Neville Cayley’s lavishly illustrated What Bird is That? or Charles Bean’s multi-volume Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Charles Bean’s history was one of the case studies Professor  Christopher Lee used to explore the company’s conscious role in creating a sense of Australian identity in the early twentieth century and around world war one. His other case study was Henry Lawson, whose relationship with the company was so close that the archive still contains one of his pencils and his mother’s wedding ring!

The symposium also addressed many of the formidable characters who shaped the history of the firm: in a particularly illuminating paper Jacqueline Kent discussed the role in shaping Australia’s literary culture of Beatrice Davis, chief editor ‘and arbiter of literary taste’ at Angus and Robertson from 1937 to 1973. We also heard from Dr Craig Munro and Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley of the ultimately unsuccessful but highly profitable attempts of Australian press baron Sir Frank Packer to buy the company in the 1960s.

The organisers and convenors of this symposium, which attracted over 50 delegates, are to be congratulated on a uniformly high quality event, from the “Welcome to Country” by Uncle Ray and opening remarks by Mitchell librarian Richard Neville and Dr Jason Ensor, through to a vigorous closing panel chaired by the State Library’s Rachel Franks. My clear impression is that the Angus and Robertson archive is being opened up in ways that will enable many of its secrets to continue to be revealed across coming decades, and that Australian book history is in rude health ahead of the international SHARP 2018 conference – which is to be held in Sydney at Western Sydney University, Parramatta, and the State Library, 26-29 June. Both Dr James and Dr Ensor emphasized that the time is ripe for a new synthesis of the history of Angus and Robertson and its significance to the cultural, business, social and literary history of Australia and the wider world. It will be, as evidenced by the Waratah and Thistle symposium, an exciting and many-faceted tale.

Emigre conference to follow Digitizing Enlightenment Symposium

The following call just went out on H-France. The event will follow on from the Second Digitizing Enlightenment Symposium, which takes place at Radboud. Great to see Laure Philip and Juliette Reboul putting the emigre conference together.

Call for Papers

Connected Histories and Memories:

French Emigrants in Revolutionised Europe

Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands), 19-20th June 2017

 

Keynote speakers: Professor Simon Burrows (Western Sydney University, Australia); Professor Kirsty Carpenter (Massey University, New Zealand); Dr. Karine Rance (Université Blaise Pascal, France)

 

Since the publication of the collection of essays on Emigration in Europe edited by Kirsty Carpenter and Philip Mansel in 1999, our knowledge of the emigrant community and that of European responses to the French Revolution have dramatically progressed. The historiography on the subject was renewed with pioneering studies on the Counter-Revolution and Anti-Enlightenment as well as new analysis on the nobility and the heterogeneity of migratory projects. Scholars have ventured into the memorial and literary landscape of emigration, at times articulating literary criticism around the question of trauma and refuge. Research into gender proved to be a fruitful way to challenge previous conceptions of the émigré figure. With this conference, we aim to approach emigration using the notions of connection, transfers and transnationalism, as well as cultural innovations, relating the current knowledge on emigration to studies on the connections between the émigré community and the host country. In particular, we would like to discuss the formation of political and national consciousness deriving from the encounters between the emigrant and their host communities.

This inter-disciplinary event will particularly welcome early career researchers and scholars who have studied or shown an interest in the French émigré community in any European context or beyond. It is open to those researching alternative and trans-national histories of exile in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 

Participants are invited to give papers, in English or in French, on the following themes:

–          Emigrés, exiles and refugees? Questioning the designations of individual migrants and their community

–          Foreign archival repositories and the renewal of sources on emigration

–          Host discourses on emigration and the creation of an émigré national consciousness

–          Towards a connected history of emigration and the counter-revolution in Europe and the World

–          Against the tide: alternative migratory projects and ruptures with the politically and culturally-dominant émigré group

–          Studying emigration in the twenty-first century

–          The émigré novel and memoirs in the long eighteenth century literary landscape

–    Any other topic relevant to the conference

 

Please email abstract of 300 words by 5th April 2017 to: l.philip@westernsydney.edu.au and j.reboul@let.ru.nl

 

 

Congratulations Vincent Hiribarren

This blog does not tend to cover African history, but today we are pleased to make an exception.

We are delighted to announce the appearance of Vincent Hiribarren‘s doctoral monograph, A History of Borno. Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State (London: Hurst, 2017).

As the commentary and reviews on the publisher’s website explain, this ‘hugely significant, superbly written, and profoundly interesting’ book charts the nineteenth and twentieth-century history ‘of an ancient Sahelian kingdom whose hinterland is now being laid waste by the Boko Haram insurgency’. Tracing its history back even beyond the foundation of the Bornu Empire (lasted 1380-1893), Borno has had remarkably stable borders and a clearly defined social and political identity, that as the publishers’ reviewers note, ‘calls into question received notions on the nature and sources of political power in Africa, in the past and present,’ and play an important role ‘in the framing of the narratives of Boko Haram’s contemporary jihad.’

The book, of course, also evidences Vincent’s passion for maps and mapping, traits which proved invaluable to his work on the French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project, too. As followers of this blog will know, Vincent was a technologist and GIS mapper for FBTEE from 2009 to 2012. His work on final editing of the database, our online and downloadable maps and visualizations, and the transfer of the database to Western Sydney in many ways kept the project alive through a difficult transition. In 2013-14 he helped to conceptualize and prepare the next stage of the project, work which contributed to the collaborative article ‘Mapping Print, Connecting Cultures‘. He was a named Research Associate on the FBTEE project’s ARC applications in 2014 and 2015, but before he could take up a position on the ‘Mapping Print, Charting Enlightenment‘ project, he was appointed to a Lectureship in Modern African History at Kings College, London.

So congratulations, Vincent, on the appearance of this important monograph. We hope it is the first of many.

FBTEE wins BSECS Digital Resource Prize

We are pleased to announce that deep into the Australian summer holiday period, FBTEE was awarded the 2017 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) Digital Resource Prize at the BSECS annual conference at St Hugh’s college, Oxford, on 5 January.

Here is how Laure Philip announced the prize at our own institution (while I was busy sunning myself down the coast – so my warmest thanks, Laure). The announcement is accompanied by a rather hastily prepared ‘Oscar style’ acceptance video-presentation speech – finished minutes before I departed on the family’s annual holiday – which also gives a brief account of our current work. Enjoy!

‘The Digital Humanities Research Group is extremely honoured to announce that the French Book Trade and Enlightenment database (FBTEE) has been nominated by the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (BSECS) for the Digital Resource Prize today in Oxford. FBTEE was launched in 2012 at the University of Leeds by Professor Simon Burrows. It involved the work of many talented researchers, designers and scholars and a second stage of FBTEE’s development is being funded by the Australian Research Council and Western Sydney University, where the project is now based. This prize not only celebrates the originality of the FBTEE database but also the outstanding ongoing work done by all team members.

Please click on link below to hear project leader Professor Simon Burrows thank everyone and explain what this state of the art database is about and how it can help revise our understanding of the eighteenth-century book trade: