Andrew Piper (Principal Investigator) is Associate Professor of German and European Literature and an associate member of the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. His work focuses on the intersection of literary and bibliographic communication from the eighteenth century to the present. His new book, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Chicago), addresses current debates about the future of reading through a study of the long history of our embodied interactions with books. Prof. Piper is also the author of Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago, 2009), which The New Republic named one of the best art books of 2009 and which was awarded the MLA Prize for a First Book as well as honorable mention for the Harry Levin Prize for the American Comparative Literature Association. He is currently at work on two new research projects. The first is a comparative study of the interconnections between the genre of autobiography, the life sciences, and the medium of the book at the turn of the nineteenth century entitled, “Writing Life.” Its aim is to understand the history of how “life” emerged as a key graphical object of knowledge around 1800 and the ways it traversed two distinct modes of knowledge, from the literary to the scientific. The second project is an exploration of new quantitative ways of understanding the relationship between the novel and eighteenth-century writing. Through the use of topological maps of lexical relationality, “The Werther Effect” seeks to understand the discursive impact of some of the most important literary publishing events of the eighteenth century: epistolary novels such as Goethe’s Werther, Rousseau’s Julie, or Richardson’s Pamela.
McGill University (Department of German Studies)