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Title: Unpublishing Religion: How Anglo-Protestant Printing Constrained Public Speech in Early America
Authors: Baysa, Michael
Advisors: Perry, Seth
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Anglo-Protestant
Early America
History of the Book
Printing Press
Public Sphere
Religious Studies
Subjects: Religion
Religious history
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation explores how Anglo-Protestant authority was crystalized through the publishing process in colonial and early British-America. It engages with book history, media studies, literary studies, religious studies, and American religious history to illustrate how contingency, as a framework, could reveal how Protestant power operated where and when itmay have been deemed weak or absent. In five chapters, I examine both constraints on religious printing beyond censorship and opportunities to reach audiences through manuscript publication. The stories of eighteenth-century manuscripts and their authors who aspired to publish demonstrates the limits of the public sphere framework to describe print as media for dialogue. It was too embedded in Anglo-Protestant logics that imagined Anglo-Protestant readership for published translations, discouraged non-English religious publications through mechanical limits on the printing press, and sustained the mediatory capacity of ministers to speak to and on behalf of a religious public. Far from being an accessible platform, print publishing preserved the Anglo-Protestantism character of public religion at a period when ministers’ political influence waned and print was the ascendant medium for public discourse. Given print’s constraints, writers continued to rely on manuscripts to reach a broader audience. Manuscript circulation and scribal publication were not only comparable alternatives to the highly curated publishing process, but survived as a practice into eighteenth-century because of how well it facilitated conversation among communities that publishers never served. Whatever exceptional texts or literary firsts occurred in print paled in comparison to the religious pluralism that thrived through manuscripts. More importantly, this dissertation encourages more dynamic readings of manuscript and print mediums to better understand the complex worlds that they not only generated, but also were made and unmade to inhabit.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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