Discovering the Center for the Book was a pivotal moment in Mark Mattes’s graduate career.
A Ph.D. candidate in American studies, Mark was seeking to develop a unique interdisciplinary approach to American cultural history. In the search for a methodological counterbalance, he took two Center courses – one on the history of reading and the other on the history of books. Those experiences encouraged Mattes to pursue the Center for the Book certificate.
“The UICB’s multidisciplinary training in book arts, writing and printing technologies, information science, and media history has helped me develop a unique set of skills with which to explore 18th- and 19th-century America,” Mattes said.
Mattes’s research focuses on the production, circulation, and use of letters, periodicals, broadsides, and books in 18th- and 19th-century America. Specifically, he is interested in how early American men and women used the expressive power of these communications technologies and practices to wield, negotiate, and critique political power.
His dissertation shows how politicians, former slaves, middle-class women, and later antiquarians used reactions to personal letters within manuscripts and print media to draw lines of social demarcation and assert personal identities.