Simon Burrows: “Enlightenment Best-Sellers: the Foreign, the Forbidden and the Forgotten”

  • Date: –18:00
  • Location: Carolina Rediviva: Inner Periodicals Reading Room
  • Organiser: The Department of Literature, The Uppsala Interdisciplinary 18th Century Seminar, the research node "Media History 1750-1850", and Uppsala University Library
  • Contact person: Ann Öhrberg
  • Seminarium

The Uppsala Interdisciplinary 18th Century Seminar, the research node "Media History 1750-1850", and Uppsala University Library

Professor Simon Burrows, Sydney: “Enlightenment Best-Sellers: the Foreign, the Forbidden and the Forgotten”

Chair for Dpt of Literature: Öhrberg

Informal reception in the University Library Lunch Room. RSVP for the reception at the latest on November 23 to Annika Windahl-Pontén, annika.windahl_ponten@uadm.uu.se. The Department of Literature offers snacks, wine at cost price. No RSVP needed for paricipation at seminar only.


Presentation
Daniel Mornet’s celebrated question ‘What did the French read before the revolution?’ has both inspired and frustrated historians for over a century. The problem of reconstructing popular reading, and recovering the true best-sellers of the old regime, must be approached on an industrial, ‘big data’ scale, and this is now feasible through the application of digital technologies to historical bibliometric research. At the forefront of these efforts is the ‘French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe’ project, which having first recorded the entire trade of iconic Swiss publisher the Société typographique de Neuchâtel in database form, is now gathering further data from a complex range of sources spanning all sections of the French book trade in the period 1769-1789: the legal, the pirate and the clandestine, fiction and non-fiction, from religious works to practical manuals, and politics to poetry. As a result, we can now for the first time sketch the contours of the entire francophone book market and identify the true forgotten and forbidden best-sellers of pre-revolutionary France. The results of this survey, at once surprising and provocative, force us to confront a forgotten intellectual universe anew and radically revise our concept of enlightenment culture and society.