About the Symposium

The John Carter Brown Library’s “Merchants of the Printed Word” symposium (February 19-21, 2015) brought leading scholars from around the world to share exciting new developments in the history of print in the Americas. Made possible through the generous support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the conference was timed to coincide with the 475th anniversary…

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Video

Eminent historian Roger Chartier opened the event with the keynote lecture, “The Seven Lives of Las Casas’ Brevísima Relación (1552 – 1822)” that traced the publication history of the text over the course of nearly three centuries. Session 1 featured presentations on circulation and European perspectives by Stijn van Rossem (University of Antwerp), Natalia Maillard (Universidad…

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Joseph Rezek, “Matters of Circulation in the Early Black Atlantic: John Marrant’s Narrative, 1785-1829”

John Marrant was born a free black man in British North America. He was pressed into the British Navy in the Revolutionary War, then moved to London to work for a merchant and eventually was ordained into a Methodist church. His “Narrative” was an account of his religious conversion and captivity among the Cherokees in…

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Alpen Razi, “The Creolization of Samuel Keimer: Global Contexts of the Barbados Gazette (1731-39)”

Samuel Keimer (1688-1742) was a printer and editor by trade whose adventures spanned the British Atlantic. Keimer began his career in London, a time in his life he chronicled in his memoir A Brand Pluck’d from the Burning. He and his sister fell in with a millenarian cult, the French Prophets, an episode that ended…

Read more Alpen Razi, “The Creolization of Samuel Keimer: Global Contexts of the Barbados Gazette (1731-39)”

Stijn van Rossem, “Keeping Up with the Verdussens: Antwerp as an International Hub for Catholic Books in the Seventeenth Century”

After falling to the Spanish in 1585, the city of Antwerp transformed from a typographic Humanist center into a bulwark of Counter-Reformation printing. As it incorporated itself into the Spanish Empire over the course of the seventeenth century, the city’s position as one of the northernmost Catholic towns and its longstanding tradition in the trade…

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Natalia Maillard, “Book Trade Networks in Counter-Reformation Seville”

The book trade in Seville complicates our understanding of not only the circulation of Catholic books, but the nature of the Counter-Reformation itself. We know that printers and booksellers were vital to the spread of the first Reformation. Natalia Maillard posits that the same was true of the Counter-Reformation, forcing book historians to reconsider the…

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Pedro Guibovich, “The Origins of the Book Commerce in the Peruvian Viceroyalty”

In 1532, the conquistador Francisco Pizarro and his men met the Inca emperor Atahuallpa at Cajamarca, Peru. Sensing the difficulty of defeating the Inca army in pitched battle, Pizarro staged an ambush, requesting that Atahuallpa treat with him. At the meeting, Atahuallpa was met first by a friar who entered carrying a cross and Bible.…

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Cristina Soriano, “Reading in a Province with No Printing Press: Literacy and Circulation of Books in Late Eighteenth Colonial Caracas”

How did the people of Caracas accumulate and disseminate information without a printing press? Cristina Soriano answers this question by examining late eighteenth century Caracas print culture from the bottom up. Caracas did not have a press until 1808, so its inhabitants developed a system of borrowing, translating, transcribing, and copying books in order to…

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Júnia Ferreira Furtado, “Seditious Books and Libertinism in Eighteenth-Century Brazil”

These two histories, written nearly two millennia apart, each contain stories of resistance against the Roman Empire. Flavius Josephus was a first-century Jewish historian. Born in Jerusalem, he led the forces of Galilee in the first Jewish-Roman war. He surrendered and was enslaved, becoming interpreter to Vespasian, who later freed Josephus in gratitude for his…

Read more Júnia Ferreira Furtado, “Seditious Books and Libertinism in Eighteenth-Century Brazil”