Matthew Brown

Associate Professor, English
The Pilgrim and the Bee

I hold an appointment in the English department, where I specialize in book studies, which focuses on the history of authorship, publication, reading, and format. My particular research interest is in the history of readership, as reflected in my book The Pilgrim and the Bee: Reading Rituals and Book Culture in Early New England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). It was awarded Honorable Mention by the MLA for Best First Book in 2007. My articles and reviews have appeared in The Journal of Artist Books,  American Literary HistoryAmerican QuarterlyCultural Studies, CBAA's journal OpeningsPapers of the Bibliographical Society of AmericaEarly American Literature, and PMLA.

Supported by an NEH grant, I am working on a second book, The Novel and the Blank, an investigation of how the constraints of the print shop affected the literary culture and reading habits of colonial and early national America. From this project, an essay—“Blanks: Data, Method, and the British American Print Shop”—was published in the Spring 2017 issue of American Literary History. In 2009 and 2010, I led the Mellon-funded summer seminar “Early American Literature and Material Texts,” a workshop for dissertating graduate students from across the country, held at the University of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia. I have given invited talks at Northwestern, Harvard, Ben-Gurion University, Penn, Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion, Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, the Folger Library, Loyola University of Chicago, the American Antiquarian Society, the University of Mississippi, and Princeton’s Mellon Symposium on “Protestantism and the Materiality of Texts.” Along with book studies and early American literature, current teaching and scholarly interests include editorial theory and literary meaning, the history of the public sphere, reader-oriented criticism, and gender studies.