Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book

1st Edition

By Jessica DeSpain


224 pages

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pub: 2014-08-29
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Until the Chace Act in 1891, no international copyright law existed between Britain and the United States, which meant publishers were free to edit text, excerpt whole passages, add new illustrations, and substantially redesign a book's appearance. In spite of this ongoing process of transatlantic transformation of texts, the metaphor of the book as a physical embodiment of its author persisted. Jessica DeSpain's study of this period of textual instability examines how the physical book acted as a major form of cultural exchange between Britain and the United States that called attention to volatile texts and the identities they manifested. Focusing on four influential works”Charles Dickens's American Notes for General Circulation, Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World, Fanny Kemble's Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, and Walt Whitman's Democratic Vistas”DeSpain shows that for authors, readers, and publishers struggling with the unpredictability of the textual body, the physical book and the physical body became interchangeable metaphors of flux. At the same time, discourses of destabilized bodies inflected issues essential to transatlantic culture, including class, gender, religion, and slavery, while the practice of reprinting challenged the concepts of individual identity, personal property, and national identity.


"Jessica DeSpain brings together an intriguing combination of works by Charles Dickens, Susan Warner, Fanny Kemble, and Walt Whitman to produce a rich understanding of the culture of reprinting. The result is a thought-provoking and informative exploration of reprinting and textual adaptation in a transatlantic context."

- Christine Bold, University of Guelph, Canada, author of The Frontier Club: Popular Westerns and Cultural Power, 1880-1924

"The virtue of this book is that it links the transatlantic packaging of nineteenth-century books to the transatlantic interest in the body. … the execution is superb."

- Review 19

"DeSpain’s Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book will surely be a touchstone of future scholarship on textual studies, cultural materialism, and nineteenth-century literary culture. Her close, critical reading of texts – paired with her archival research and reproduced artwork – articulate a deep historical concern about modality and materiality that persists today, and her monograph contributes to an ever-expanding field of study where DeSpain’s voice is sure to find its audience."

- Michael James Griffin II, Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: steaming across the pond: books, bodies, and citizenship in 19th-century transatlantic culture; ’Here goes Boz - only a shilling!’: the monstrous general circulation of American Notes; Claiming kindred with all the world: Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World and its British reprints; Restaging intimacy: the pamphlet reproductions of Fanny Kemble’s Georgian journal; Whitman’s democratic marrow: Democratic Vistas within a British working class cheap series; Conclusion: the transatlantic book after international copyright: the arts and crafts respond to an Anglo-American alliance; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Jessica DeSpain is Associate Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, USA.

About the Series

Ashgate Series in Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Studies

Ashgate Series in Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Studies

Focusing on the long nineteenth century (ca. 17501900), this series offers a forum for the publication of scholarly work investigating the literary, historical, artistic, and philosophical foundations of transatlantic culture. A vital field of interdisciplinary investigation, transatlantic scholarship contextualizes its objects of study in relation to exchanges, interactions, and negotiations that occurred between and among authors and other artists hailing from both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, transatlantic research calls into question established disciplinary boundaries that have long functioned to segregate various national or cultural literatures and art forms, challenging as well the traditional academic emphasis upon periodization and canonization. By examining representations dealing with such topics as travel and exploration, migration and diaspora, slavery, aboriginal culture, revolution, colonialism and anticolonial resistance, the series offers new insights into the hybrid or intercultural basis of transatlantic identity, politics, and aesthetics. Please note, this series is done commissioning and will no longer be taking submissions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature