This chapter focuses on works on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century manuscript culture. It begins with an assumption of coevolution rather than succession. Rather than rely on a replacement model—in which one media (print) overtakes and subsumes another (manuscript)—this chapter provides examples of how both media mutually develop. If manuscript writing far exceeded printed writing, then one might wonder about how a “print” culture fits into this narrative and how we might instead think about manuscript–print hybrids and about the mutual influences that they exert on each other. The chapter also considers methodological assumptions about how to research the material culture of the period. It is the quasi-public status of manuscript—its ambiguous hovering between public and private—that poses a problem of knowledge. One can only “imagine” what is circulated in manuscript because it is not as archivally or socially accessible. In light of these arguments, the chapter examines a set of material artifacts and cultural practices that illuminate moments of adaptation, resistance, and convergence between print and manuscript during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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