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July 5, 2011

Database on French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe to be Discussed

Digital Humanities Project is for the Study of the Books and Ideas of Late 18th-century Europe

The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project uses database technology to map the trade of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), a celebrated European publishing house that operated between 1769 and 1794. The STN’s archives can be considered a representative source for studying the history of the book trade and dissemination of ideas in late Enlightenment Europe. The use of database technology with a data source as rich as the STN archives will significantly enhance the research use of the notable collection of original material held at the Library of Congress.

The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project is the subject of a discussion on Wednesday, July 13, at 2 p.m. in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The program, sponsored by the Center for the Book, the European Division and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Simon Burrows, the project’s director, and Mark Curran, research fellow, will lead the discussion.

Situated in Switzerland, operating outside France and its system of censorship and book privileges, the STN was able to deal in all genres of books, including illegal and pirate editions banned in France. The STN also had clients in cities all over Europe, including major booksellers and publishers in Dublin, London, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Madrid, Warsaw and Naples, as well as the German- and French-speaking countries.

This project will map the French book trade across late-Enlightenment Europe in order to chart best-selling texts and authors; reading tastes across Europe; changing patterns of demand over time; and networks of exchange in the print trade. As French was the international language of the period, and widely read by Europe’s elites, the project will be of interest to all scholars of the European Enlightenment, not merely those with interests in French history and literature. The database of the book trade created by the project will be freely available to all users and the wider academic community later this year at chop.leeds.ac.uk/stn/ (external link).

Simon Burrows is professor of modern European history at the University of Leeds and principal investigator for the AHRC-funded French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project. Mark Curran, currently a research fellow in the School of History at the University of Leeds, will shortly be taking up the Munby fellowship in bibliography at the University of Cambridge.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (www.Read.gov/cfb/) has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s Read.gov website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

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PR 11-128
07/05/11
ISSN 0731-3527

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