J.P. Ascher

J.P. Ascher Joins the Linda Hall Library as 2022-23 Presidential Scholar in Bibliography

The Linda Hall Library is thrilled to welcome its first Presidential Scholar in Bibliography, J.P. Ascher. Bibliography is the study of books and manuscripts as physical artifacts, including the examination of the history of printing techniques, publication practices, textual transmission, and reading strategies.

Ascher studies bibliographical methods along with Restoration to eighteenth-century generalist writing. He is currently working on two book projects: first, a broad history of seventeenth century reading titled Creating an Audience for Science: The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in Context, and second, a comprehensive Descriptive Bibliographical History of Henry Oldenburg’s Editorship of the Philosophical Transactions, 1665-1676.

While conducting his research, Ascher will utilize the Library's extensive collections to interpret the Royal Society of London's administrative records for printing. He will also be using administrative records to interpret the printed materials at the Library, placing both the records and the printing into historical context. Since the Society possessed an independent legal framework for printing, its records are often overlooked in histories of printing, licensing, and copyright. Yet the Society's aim, to promote and improve natural knowledge, anticipates the Statute of Anne's aim, to encourage learning, a coincidence that suggests that the history of scientific, technical, and enlightening reading materials has a more profound impact on literature than hitherto claimed.

The Library looks forward to having Ascher with us, as he works to recover the history of reading for enlightenment.