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Virtual Book Talks at the American Antiquarian Society

Virtual Book Talks at the American Antiquarian Society

AAS established the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) in 1983 in order to focus its resources on promoting an emerging field of interdisciplinary inquiry. In May 2020, PHBAC launched its Virtual Book Talk series. These events showcase authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes an informal presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience. These talks are streamed live for registered participants and are recorded for posterity. Talks typically last 45 minutes to one hour.

Last month, Derrick R. Spires spoke about his book The Practice of Citizenship. A recording of the event is available on the AAS YouTube channel. This month our guest is Glenda Goodman, who will discuss her new title Cultivated by Hand.

Cultivated By Hand with Glenda Goodman, Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 2:00 pm EDT

Scattered in archives and historical societies across the United States are hundreds of volumes of manuscript music, copied by hand by eighteenth-century amateurs. Often overlooked, amateur music making played a key role in the construction of gender, class, race, and nation in the post-revolution years of the United States. These early Americans, seeking ways to present themselves as genteel, erudite, and pious, saw copying music by hand and performing it in intimate social groups as a way to make themselves--and their new nation-appear culturally sophisticated.

Following a select group of amateur musicians, Cultivated by Hand makes the case that amateur music making was both consequential to American culture of the eighteenth century and aligned with other forms of self-fashioning. This interdisciplinary study explores the social and material practices of amateur music making, analyzing the materiality of manuscripts, tracing the lives of individual musicians, and uncovering their musical tastes and sensibilities. Author Glenda Goodman explores highly personal yet often denigrated experiences of musically "accomplished" female amateurs in particular, who grappled with finding a meaningful place in their lives for music. Revealing the presence of these unacknowledged subjects in music history, Cultivated by Hand reclaims the importance of such work and presents a class of musicians whose labors should be taken into account.

Glenda Goodman is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. She works on the history of early American music. Her first book, Cultivated by Hand: Amateur Musicians in the Early American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2020) is a material and social history of amateurism. She is currently working on a book on sacred music and colonial encounter in eighteenth-century New England. Her articles have appeared in several musicology and history journals, and she is also working on a collaborative project, American Contact: Intercultural Encounter and the History of the Book, which will result in a volume and digital project. Before moving into academia, Glenda Goodman was a violist who performed classical and experimental music.

This program is free but requires advanced registration. Registration is available here:

For more information, contact Kevin Wisniewski, Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives at

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