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An extremely compelling piece of cultural history that succeeds in making rich rather

than schematic sense of the major dramas that lay behind the production of over

1700 different American editions of the Bible in the century after the American Revolution

 

 

Books by Paul C. Gutjahr

 

Popular American Literature of the 19th Century Illuminating LettersAn American Bible

 

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An American Bible

A History of the Good Book

 in the United States, 1777-1880

By Paul C. Gutjahr

 

Reviews

During the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, American publishing experienced unprecedented, exponential growth. An emerging market economy, widespread religious revival, educational reforms, and innovations in print technology worked together to create a culture increasingly formed and framed by the power of print. At the center of this new culture was the Bible, the book that has been called “the best seller” in American publishing history. Yet it is important to realize that the Bible in America was not a simple, uniform entity. First printed in the United States during the American Revolution, the Bible underwent many revisions, translations, and changes in format as different editors and publishers appropriated it to meet a wide range of changing ideological and economic demands.


This book examines how many different constituencies (both secular and religious) fought to keep the Bible the preeminent text in the United States as the country’s print marketplace experienced explosive growth. The author shows how these heated battles had profound consequences for many American cultural practices and forms of printed material. By exploring how publishers, clergymen, politicians, educators, and lay persons met the threat that new printed material posed to the dominance of the Bible by changing both its form and its contents, the author reveals the causes and consequences of mutating God’s supposedly immutable Word.from  The Publisher

Paul Gutjahr's An American Bible is a learned, judicious, and readable study of the production and marketing of the biggest all-time best-seller during the first century following American independence. As such, not only is this book by far the most authoritative study of its particular subject, but a valuable window onto the whole history of American publishing and marketing during the period.—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University

A Fascinating journey through the history of the Bible in America -- unprecedented in its scope, erudition, and imagination.—Jon Butler, Yale University

An extremely compelling piece of cultural history that succeeds in making rich rather than schematic sense of the major dramas that lay behind the production of over 1700 different American editions of the Bible in the century after the American Revolution. Describing its larger subject as 'the mutability of the immutable book,' Gutjahr offers accounts of the changing technologies of production, discussions of the relation of image to text, case studies of major printers and printings (and the cultural, economic, theological and textual issues that occasioned those editions), and a critical analysis of the battles of publishers in promoting the Bible as a distinct marketplace object. Gutjahr's book is especially powerful in demonstrating how 19th-century efforts to purge the Bible of textual and translational impurities in search of an 'authentic' text, led ironically to the emergence of entirely new gospels for the nineteenth century like the Book of Mormon and the massive fictionalized literature dealing with the life of Christ. An American Bible deserves the widest possible audience.—Jay Fliegelman, Stanford University

Paul Gutjahr's pathbreaking study of the production of bibles in the early history of the United States is a splendid effort in every way. The great magnitude of the subject has frightened other scholars away. But Gutjahr, unintimidated by the many dimensions of his theme, has successfully illuminated a great deal about printing practices in early America, about the economics of the book trade, and about the vicissitudes of American taste, as well as about the religious meanings of the printed Scriptures.—Mark Noll, Wheaton College

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Table

Figures
Preface 1
1 Production 9
2 Packaging 39
3 Purity 89
4 Pedagogy 113
5 Popularity 143
Postscript 175
App. 1 An Overview of Bible Production in the United States, 1777-1880 181
App. 2 American Bible Society (ABS) Production and Distribution, 1818-1880 187
App. 3 Prices for the Cheapest Editions of American Bibles in the Nineteenth Century 189
App. 4 Survey of Bible Bindings from the American Bible Society (1,238-edition sample) 191
App. 5 New Translations of the English Bible in the United States, 1808-1880 193
App. 6 Production of Catholic Bibles in English in the United States, 1790-1880 195
Notes 199
Bibliography 229
Index 253

 

Paul Gutjahr is an Associate Professor of English, American Studies and Religious Studies at Indiana University. He works primarily on religious print culture in the United States, having written extensively on sacred texts in America, as well as popular Christian fiction such as Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. His books include: An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, Illuminating Letters: Essays on Typography and Literary Interpretation, and Popular American Literature.

An American Bible : A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1880. By Paul C. Gutjahr. Format: Paperback, 256pp. ISBN: 0804743398 Publisher: Stanford University Press  January 2001

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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