Book history event: "Hating Books"

In her recent book, Loving Literature, Deidre Lynch tracks the emergence of an emotional relationship to literature – the shift from brain to heart – in the transition circa 1800 from a rhetorical culture to an appreciative culture. Before we began to love our books, they were a source of instruction and improvement.  In later eighteenth-century Britain, as print became an ever more widespread medium of communication, when increasing literacy and book production suggest the book might be understood as “new media,” scores of works began to appear lamenting the wretched state of contemporary letters. In part, such concerns reflect an anxiety about the moral implications of emergent genres like the novel as such works were consumed by an increasingly female readership. Taking a cue from Lynch’s distinction between an affective relationship to books and a rational, civic minded one, Dr. Sachs’ considers the negative affect – hatred, even – that often went hand in hand with later eighteenth-century efforts to protect the value of books as sources of improvement. Before we could love our books, perhaps, we had to hate them.

Location: Room A003, Lower Level, Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library

Start time: 4:00 p.m., February 25th

This event is part of a SSHRC-supported speaker series Unravelling the Code(x): History of the Book, an interdisciplinary series that explores book history scholarship and the creation, circulation, and reception of knowledge.