Books and their Readers in Provincial Scotland, 1750-1820
It has become commonplace in recent decades for scholars to identify in the books of the Scottish Enlightenment the intellectual origins of the modern world, but little attention has yet been paid to its impact on contemporary readers. Drawing on a range of innovatory methodologies associated with the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of the history of reading, this book explores the reception of books by David Hume, Adam Smith, William Robertson and Thomas Reid (amongst many others), assessing their impact on the lives, beliefs and habits of mind of readers across the social scale. In the process, the book offers a fascinating new perspective on the fundamental importance of personal reading experiences to the social history of the Enlightenment.
Reading, Community, and Identity in the Atlantic World, 1650-1850
Before the Public Library explores the emergence of community-based lending libraries in the Atlantic World before the advent of the Public Library movement in the mid-nineteenth century. Essays by eighteen scholars from a range of disciplines seek to place, for the first time, community libraries within an Atlantic context over a two-century period. Taking a comparative approach, this volume shows that community libraries played an important – and largely unrecognized – role in shaping Atlantic social networks, political and religious movements, scientific and geographic knowledge, and economic enterprise. Libraries had a distinct role to play in shaping modern identities through the acquisition and circulation of specific kinds of texts, the fostering of sociability, and the building of community-based institutions.