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HI3H4 Empire of the Book: The Global Politics of Print, 1750–1950

‘The Printing Press in Africa’, Gutenberg Monument, Strasbourg, by David d’Angers (1840) (Photo Credit: Nelson Minar)

‘The Printing Press in Africa’, Gutenberg Monument, Strasbourg, by David d’Angers (1840) (Photo Credit: Nelson Minar)

Tutor: Dr James Poskett
Email: j dot poskett at warwick dot ac dot uk
Seminar Times: Thursdays, 14:00–16:00 (Group 1), 16:00–18:00 (Group 2)
Seminar Room: Room H3.45 (Humanities Building)




Overview

Gandhi printed his most famous work, Hind Swaraj (1909), in South Africa. Why? This course takes the history of printing technology as the starting point for rethinking the history of empire. Beginning with the East India Company and ending in Republican China, we follow an unlikely band of printers, publishers, authors and readers. We re-examine major themes in the global history of empire, from science and religion to slavery and nationalism. Throughout this course, books are treated as material objects, something which is easy to forget in the digital age. Books were written on, cut up, censored and burned. With this in mind, there is a strong focus on students developing practical skills. We will learn the techniques of the book historian, hunting for clues in the margins, examining bindings and illustrations. And with these skills in place, students will begin to read a selection of fascinating primary sources in a completely different light. From scientific journals and legal manuals, to abolitionist papers and anticolonial pamphlets, the history of empire starts to look very different from the perspective of the printing press.