The Republic in Print: Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770-1870

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Overview

"In the beginning, all the world was America."—John Locke

In the beginning, everything was America, but where did America begin? In many narratives of American nationalism (both popular and academic), the United States begins in print-with the production, dissemination, and consumption of major printed texts like Common Sense , the Declaration of Independence, newspaper debates over ratification, and the Constitution itself. In these narratives, print plays a central role in the emergence of American nationalism, as Americans become Americans through acts of reading that connect them to other like-minded nationals.

In The Republic in Print, however, Trish Loughran overturns this master narrative of American origins and offers a radically new history of the early republic and its antebellum aftermath. Combining a materialist history of American nation building with an intellectual history of American federalism, Loughran challenges the idea that print culture created a sense of national connection among different parts of the early American union and instead reveals the early republic as a series of local and regional reading publics with distinct political and geographical identities.

Focusing on the years between 1770 and 1870, Loughran develops two richly detailed and provocative arguments. First, she suggests that it was the relative lack of a national infrastructure (rather than the existence of a tightly connected print network) that actually enabled the nation to be imagined in 1776 and ratification to be secured in 1787-88. She then describes how the increasingly connected book market of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s unexpectedly exposed cracks in the evolving nation, especially in regards to slavery, exacerbating regional differences in ways that ultimately contributed to secession and civil war.

Drawing on a range of literary, historical, and archival materials-from essays, pamphlets, novels, and plays, to engravings, paintings, statues, laws, and maps— The Republic in Print provides a refreshingly original cultural history of the American nation-state over the course of its first century.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Journalism
Loughran's logic throughout is deep, intricate, and scholarly... Good reading.
The Journal of American History
Loughran's well-written book will likely promote vigorous debate among historians of U.S. nationhood, print culture, and slavery.

— Carl Ostrowski

William and Mary Quarterly
A remarkable study, both in its marshaling of archival detail and in its ambitious thesis.

— Phillip H. Round

College Literature
...Promise[s] to be useful to literary scholars in many ways.
American Historical Review
This book is inventively dialectical, unfailingly provocative, and consistently interesting. It formulates its myraid insights with an unusually rich, incisive and occasionally playful language that is deligtful to read.

— Oz Frankel

The Journal of American History - Carl Ostrowski
Loughran's well-written book will likely promote vigorous debate among historians of U.S. nationhood, print culture, and slavery.
William and Mary Quarterly - Phillip H. Round
A remarkable study, both in its marshaling of archival detail and in its ambitious thesis.
American Historical Review - Oz Frankel
This book is inventively dialectical, unfailingly provocative, and consistently interesting. It formulates its myraid insights with an unusually rich, incisive and occasionally playful language that is deligtful to read.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231139090
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 568
  • Sales rank: 1,132,553
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Trish Loughran received her B.A. from Rutgers University and her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago. She has curated print and material artifact exhibits at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia and the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, PA, and has held fellowships from the Bibliographical Society of America, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently associate professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches and writes about early U.S. culture.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsPreface: A View from the Capitol: The Unfinished Work of US Nation Building

1. U.S. Print Culture: The Factory of Fragments

Part One - The Book's Two Bodies: Print Culture and National Founding, 1776-1789

2. Disseminating Common Sense: Thomas Paine and the Scene of Revolutonary Print Culture3. The Republic in Print: Ratification as Material Text, 1787-1788

Part Two: The Nation in Fragments: Federal Representation and its Discontents, 1787-1789

4. Virtual Nation: State-Based Identity and Federalist Fantasy5. Metrobuilding: The Production of Federalist Space

Part Three: The Overextended Republic: Slavery, Abolition, and National Space, 1790-1870

6. Abolitionist Nation: The Space of Organized Abolition, 1790-18407. Slavery on the Move: From Fugitive Slave to Virtual Citizen

Conclusion: The Due Process of Nationalism

Columbia University Press

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