• Lecture
  • Kislak

Reading from Home

Leah Price, Rutgers University

Most Victorians who owned books employed servants. In this three-part series, Leah Price (Rutgers University) asks, how did print shape this high point of domestic service? How did negotiations among masters and servants shape the channels through which printed matter flowed?

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April 10 - 13, 2023
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Class of 78 Orrery Pavilion, Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
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Open to the Public
Cover of The "1900" Gravity Washer, Binghampton, NY, ca. 1910

Registration information: all three lectures will be held in person and also streamed virtually, via Zoom webinar. Please register separately for each lecture (see below).

Descriptive bibliography has taught us to mine printed artefacts for evidence of the division of labor. But because making forms only the first stage of the book’s lifecycle, that negotiation prefigures a longer series of unequal collaborations among the different parties involved in its circulation—not just in the bookshop and the library, but also within the middle-class home.

Most Victorians who owned a bookshelf employed a servant. Those dependents came into daily contact with printed matter that they had no right to read or even touch (the subject of Monday’s lecture), while owning and sometimes even reading books gifted by the former (as I’ll discuss on Tuesday). Where middle-class children’s sense of reading as work collided with servants’ understanding of education as the antonym to paid labor (I’ll suggest Thursday), we can trace the origin of conflicts that continue to play out in an ongoing pandemic.

Event Series

Man standing in front of wall of bookshelves holding open book

The A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography

The Rosenbach Lectures are the longest continuing series of bibliographical lectureships in the United States. Rosenbach Fellows typically present three lectures over a period of one-two weeks.

Featured image: Cover of The "1900" Gravity Washer (Binghampton, NY: "1900" Washer Company, ca. 1910)