With topical writing from the 1740s by and about the charismatic itinerant preacher George Whitefield as a focus, this talk will range across polemic, sortilege, discipline, cards-playing, election, gratitude, and ribald jokes about Richard Allestree’s The Whole Duty of Man. It will also attempt to model the virtues of book studies as a method, from macro attention to sociological theories of publishing to micro study of variants in the material text. Its vantage on post-secularism will be, at one prospect, to historicize the emergence of secularism by way of evangelicalism and, at another, to discuss the status of post-secular intellectuals as they take up their object of inquiry.
Matthew P. Brown is Associate Professor with the English department and holds a joint appointment with the Center for the Book. He specializes in book studies, which focuses on the history of authorship, publication, reading, and format. His particular research interest is in the history of readership, as reflected in his book The Pilgrim and the Bee: Reading Rituals and Book Culture in Early New England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). It was awarded Honorable Mention by the MLA for Best First Book in 2007. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Journal of Artist Books, American Literary History, American Quarterly, Cultural Studies, CBAA's journal Openings, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Early American Literature, and PMLA.