Professor Wallace Kirsop




Monash University, Australia


Wallace Kirsop is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University, where he first taught French in 1962. From 1968 to 2002 he was the Editor of the Australian Journal of French Studies. His research and publications are mostly concerned with physical bibliography and book history (France, 1550–1850; nineteenth-century Australia). He has a special interest in the adoption of “modern” techniques of book distribution in eighteenth-century Paris, including subscription publishing, remaindering and discounting.


Selling Picture Books in Eighteenth-Century Paris


Like all disciplines within the humanities, book history (l'histoire du livre) is subject to changing fashions. Indeed its own prominence in the second decade of the twenty-first century is itself the product of a movement begun in France at the end of the 1950s with L'Apparition du livre by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin  and taken up almost everywhere in the following years. The available literature is now so vast that a monograph would be needed to survey it.  Specialists in the field have been interested ' with varying emphases ' in the production, distribution and reception, or reading, of books. Latterly many practitioners have concentrated on reading, but the enterprise has its perils, as was pointed out with some acerbity by William St Clair in his The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period.  In fact there is a good case for keeping all three aspects in view and for deploying all the resources, including the methods of physical bibliography, that should distinguish authentic book history from mere literary chit-chat. In other words we are dealing with a technically equipped pursuit that combines the cultural with the social and the economic in line with the aims of the journal Annales created by Febvre and Marc Bloch in 1929.


Wednesday 28 September


1:30pm - 3.00pm





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