Bound to be Modern : Cloth Bindings and Literature as Thing

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Paper presented at the seminar "Reading Things" at CRAASH, Cambridge University. With industrialization in the 19th century, book culture went through a number of changes. Like many other goods, literature began to be sold in retail packages – readymade bookbindings that conveyed the character of the literary content of the book. Objects such as packages and bookbindings took on an increasingly important place in the public and private spaces of modern society, spreading new imagery and symbolic messages. The use and handling of books and packages coincided with a use and handling of trade marks and logotypes and of a new world of images which introduced a number of new elements in everyday life.

In this paper I will concentrate on the emergence of publishers’ bookbindings, and especially decorated cloth bindings: Why did publishers take on the commissioning of bindings, what kind of interaction between technology, economics and aesthetics took place on the book market, how can we understand the changes in binding design and how did modern, decorated bookbindings influence peoples relations to books and literature?


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cultural Studies


  • bookbindings, publishers' bindings, cloth bindings, modernity, books
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
EventReading Things - CRASSH: Center for research in the arts, social sciences and humanities, Cambridge University
Duration: 2014 Mar 12 → …


ConferenceReading Things
Period2014/03/12 → …

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