Quick Links

Andrew Piper


(On Leave Sept. 1 2012 - Aug. 31 2013)

For more information, you can visit my homepage here.

andrew [dot] piper [at] mcgill [dot] ca (e-mail) 

Andrew Piper is Associate Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and an associate member of the Department of Art History and Communication Studies. His work focuses on the intersection of literary and bibliographic communication from the eighteenth century to the present. His research follows three main lines of inquiry: 

• the history of networks and literary topologies;

• practices of textual circulation, copying, and sharing;

• the relationship between media and translation (the nexus of image, letter, and number). 

His new book, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Chicago), will be appearing this Fall. It addresses current debates about the future of reading through a study of the long history of our embodied interactions with books. In exploring our tactile, visual, spatial, and social relations to reading – from the scholarly study to the arboreal bower, from medieval manuscripts to urban interactive fictions – Book Was There is an attempt to map out the possible futures of reading through an understanding of the historical entanglements of books, bodies, and screens. 

Prof. Piper is also the author of Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago, 2009), which The New Republic named one of the best art books of 2009 and which was awarded the MLA Prize for a First Book as well as honorable mention for the Harry Levin Prize for the American Comparative Literature Association. In addition, he is the author of a number of articles on the cultural role of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century book genres such as atlases, translations, miscellanies, diaries, ballads, note-books and gift-books. 

Alongside these writing projects, he is also the co-founder of the FQRSC-funded research group, Interacting with Print: Cultural Practices of Intermediality, 1700-1900, which explores through its annual “Interactions” conference how print shaped literary and visual form, individual identity, and social community through its interactions with other media, including handwriting, sculpture, music, theatre, and oral performance. 

Prof. Piper is currently at work on two new research projects. The first is a comparative study of the interconnections between the genre of autobiography, the life sciences, and the medium of the book at the turn of the nineteenth century entitled, "Writing Life." Its aim is to understand the history of how "life" emerged as a key graphical object of knowledge around 1800 and the ways it traversed two distinct modes of knowledge, from the literary to the scientific. 

The second project is an exploration of new quantitative ways of understanding the relationship between the novel and eighteenth-century writing. Through the use of topological maps of lexical relationality, "The Werther Effect," as it is curently titled, seeks to understand the impact of some of the most important literary publishing events of the eighteenth century: epistolary novels like Goethe's Werther, Rousseau's Julie, or Richardson's Pamela. While we have many excellent studies that document the numerous works that were explicitly indebted to these novels, this project is interested in understanding the way the language of these novels circulated in a less explicit and more diffuse sense. Topologies allow us to see the diverse patterns of how a work or an idea circulates broadly through a culture and in so doing, the way it allows new literary forms to take shape. 

Recent Publications 


Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). 196 pp. 

Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). 303 pp.


“Vanishing Points: The Heterotopia of the Romantic Book.” European Romantic Review. 23.3 (2012): 381-391. 

"Romantic Cultures of Print: From Miscellaneity to Dialectic." Ravon. Special Issue: Romantic Cultures of Print. Eds. Jonathan Sachs and Andrew Piper. No. 57-58 (February-May, 2010).

“Media and Metamorphosis: On Books and Notes.” The New Everyday. Special Issue: “Notes, Lists, and Everyday Inscriptions.” Ed. Shannon Mattern (October 2010).
Media and Metamorphosis: On Notes and Books

“Transitional Figures: Image, Translation and the Ballad, 1650-1850.” Book Illustration in the Long Eighteenth Century: Reconfiguring the Visual Periphery of the Text. Ed. Christina Ionescu (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010) 1-36.

"Paraphrasis: Goethe, the Novella, and Forms of Translational Knowledge.” Goethe Yearbook. Vol. 17. Ed. Daniel Purdy (Rochester: Camden House, 2010) 179-201.

“Mapping Vision: Goethe, Cartography and the Novel.” Spatial Turns: Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literary and Visual Culture. Eds. Jaimey Fisher and Barbara Mennel (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010) 27-51.

“The Art of Sharing: Reading in the Romantic Miscellany.” Bookish Histories: Books, Literature, and Commercial Modernity, 1700-1900. Eds. Paul Keen and Ina Ferris (New York: Palgrave, 2009) 126-147.

“Korpus. Brentano, das Buch und die Mobilisierung eines literarischen und politischen Körpers.” Textbewegungen 1800/1900. Hg. Matthias Buschmeier u. Till Dembeck (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2007) 266-286.

“The Making of Transnational Textual Communities: German Women Translators 1800-1850.” Women in German Yearbook. Vol. 22. Ed. Helga Kraft and Maggie McCarthy (Lincoln: Nebraska UP, 2006) 119-144.

“Rethinking the Print Object: Goethe and the Book of Everything.” PMLA. Special Issue: “The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature.” Eds. Seth Lerer and Leah Price. 121.1 (January 2006): 124-138. [Winner of the Goethe Society of North America’s Essay Prize 2006.]