History of the Book

February 21, 2020

Reading literary texts allows us to explore what it means to be human, helping us make sense of our own historical moment and those of our forebears. The codex book has been the principal vehicle for those texts for much of Western history, and books in this form continue to inspire us today. Professor Jim Egan and Librarian Rick Ring will tell stories about their encounters with rare books with touchstones including the holdings of the Providence Athenæum, and the history of book collecting in Rhode Island.


James Egan is Professor of English at Brown University and a scholar of 17th- and 18th-century British-American writing, the history of the book, and the early modern Atlantic world. His publications include Authorizing Experience: Refigurations of the Body Politic in Seventeenth-Century New England Writing (Princeton U.P., 1999) and Oriental Shadows: The Presence of the East in Early American Literature (Ohio State U.P., 2011).

Richard Ring is Deputy Executive Director for Collections and Interpretation at the Rhode Island Historical Society. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on rare books and special collections at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), Brown University, and the University of Rhode Island.

This season was generously supported by the following friends and partners:

Categories: Art History, Art, and Design, Athenæum, History, Local Interest, Special Collections