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

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

by Trish Loughran
     
 

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"In the beginning, all the world was America."& mdash;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

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Overview

"In the beginning, all the world was America."& mdash;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& mdash; The Republic in Print provides a refreshingly original cultural history of the American nation-state over the course of its first century.

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231511230
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/25/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
568
File size:
9 MB

What People are saying about this

Jay Fliegelman
The Republic in Print delivers a knock-out punch to the supposedly determinate linkages between print culture and nation formation that underwrite much of the scholarship about early America in a number of fields. The book is a massive achievement, marvelously original, refreshingly polemical, compelling in its argument, and complex in its implications. Its importance will be immediately evident and its influence widespread.

David D. Hall
Asking us to rethink the meaning of nation and nation building in the aftermath of 1790, Trish Loughran has provided a series of remarkable case studies that support her skepticism about those subjects. An immensely valuable book.

Cindy Weinstein
A masterful reconceptualization of the role of print culture in the founding of the American nation. The claims of this book are ambitious and original, and Trish Loughran delivers. I can think of very few works of American studies that I have read in the past twenty years that are as intellectually satisfying, as archivally meticulous, and as broadly conceived as The Republic in Print.

Jonathan Arac
Trish Loughran possesses an unusually and admirably capacious intellectual character. This is a book that will have to be read by any serious student of the early republic and by any serious student of the crisis over slavery.

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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.

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