Old Books and New Histories

An Orientation to Studies in Book and Print Culture

Paperback, 128 pages

English language

Published June 1, 2007 by University of Toronto Press.


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5 stars (1 review)

Studies in the culture and history of the book are a burgeoning academic specialty. Intriguing, rigorous, and vital, they are nevertheless rooted within three major academic disciplines - history, literary studies, and bibliography - that focus respectively upon the book as a cultural transaction, a literary text, and a material artefact. Old Books and New Histories serves as a guide to this rich but sometimes confusing territory, explaining how different scholarly approaches to what may appear to be the same entity can lead to divergent questions and contradictory answers. Rather than introduce the events and turning points in the history of book culture, or debates among its theorists, Leslie Howsam uses an array of books and articles to offer an orientation to the field in terms of disciplinary boundaries and interdisciplinary tensions. Howsam's analysis maps studies of book and print culture onto the disciplinary structure of the North American and …

3 editions

A+ disciplinary situatedness

5 stars

Rereading this as teaching prep and rediscovering how much I love this book. It was just about the first thing I read as a budding book historian to help me think about what the field might be. And returning to those questions today from a position of much greater familiarity with book history, I’m struck by how nuanced and yet available to newcomers Howsam is (and now that I know Leslie, it’s no surprise—she and her work are like that!). Anyways, if you’re looking to get a sense of why and what book history might be, this will be tremendously helpful.


  • Literary studies: general
  • Publishing industry
  • History - General History
  • History
  • Literature - Classics / Criticism
  • History: World
  • Books & Reading
  • History / General
  • Historiography
  • Books
  • Histoire
  • Livres