News & Events

4/12/2014 to 5/12/2014
Ertegun House

The Global History of the Book



The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present): Workshop


The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present) is a two-day interdisciplinary workshop organised by doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in conjunction with the English Faculty’s Postcolonial Writing and Theory Seminar, the Oxford Centre for Global History, the John Fell Fund and the University of Oxford’s Ertegun Graduate Programme in the Humanities, to be held on the 4th and 5th of December 2014 at Ertegun House, Oxford.

The aim of the workshop is to explore the global alongside the local, transnational and inter-imperial, textual and intertextual, dimensions of book history. Be it the book’s ability to travel, or its intervention in cultural politics, we are particularly interested in  papers that will demonstrate the crucial role that writing and print plays in the making and materialising of global history.

The workshop will have two main strands. The first strand comprises a panel discussion with Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr, the editors of Creating an Imperial Commons: Books that Shaped the Modern British Empire, a collection of essays forthcoming from Duke University Press (2014).  They will focus on the critical implications of their project and new trends in Book History. This will be followed by readings and discussion with other contributors to the volume (confirmed speakers include Marilyn Lake, Catherine Hall and Elleke Boehmer). The second strand will involve papers by graduate students and early career researchers, furthering the conversation of the plenary panels.


Papers should be approximately 20 minutes long, and abstracts no more than 300 words. Abstracts, along with a short bionote (100 words) should be emailed to by 15 June 2014.


Topics to be investigated include, but are not restricted to:


The book as worlded technology and the global politics of print

Travelling/transnational books and texts

The book as oceanic channel, the portable book

The relation between the book and other forms of print culture –pamphlets/newspapers/broadsheets etc.

Cultural translation and reception of texts/books – adaptations, appropriations of “canonical” texts

Documents/books and colonial bureaucracy

Interactions of oral and written cultures

Book cultures as “imperial commons”

Book types and genres— textbooks, primers, handbooks, manuals, travel guides, etc.

Publishing houses, publishing networks, the history of print

Approaches to postcolonialism and Postcolonial/Global book history

Sponsors and prize cultures, reception and the cult of the bestseller

World forms and global visions

Anglobalization via the book


Convenors: Elleke Boehmer, Dominic Davies, Rouven Kunstmann, Benjamin Mountford, Priyasha Mukhopadhyay and Asha Rogers