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Cutting-and-Pasting Anecdotal History: scrapbooks and ephemeral print culture

Tuesday 19 October 2021, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Timothy Somers, University of Newcastle

Ephemeral print culture has recently drawn the attention of historians and literary scholars. Such prints include the tickets and invitations that facilitated the associational world of clubs and societies; advertisements for auctions and wonder exhibitions; and bureaucratic forms or summons that assisted local government. All these and more were produced in greater quantities from the late seventeenth century onwards, recasting the ‘material form and reception of everyday knowledge’ and reshaping ‘intimate, private worlds and human relationships’ (Raven, 2014).

This paper discusses contemporary collectors and collections of printed ephemera, with a focus on the scrapbooks compiled by the gentleman-radical Francis Douce (1757–1834). It contextualises Douce’s political, social and intellectual motivations for producing these ‘assemblages’ and discusses them alongside contemporary and earlier forms of cutting-and-pasting, life-writing, anecdotal history and manuscript jestbook compilation. The paper argues that focusing on the material context of collections, and their function as creative, performative and playful expressions of social and political identity, can help us to think about consumers’ wider engagement with ephemeral print culture.

Location: K/G07, King’s Manor