PIPER, Andrew

Andrew Piper is Assistant Professor. His research interests include 18th and early-19th Century German literature, history of the book, communication and translation theory and Goethe. Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming). “Mapping Fictions: Goethe, Cartography and the Novel.” Spatial Turns: Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literary and Visual Culture. Eds. Jaimey Fisher and Barbara Mennel (Amsterdam: Rodopi, forthcoming 2008) “The Art of Sharing: Reading in the Romantic Miscellany.” Genre. Special Issue: “New Histories of Writing.” Eds. Martha Woodmansee and Lisa Maruca (forthcoming 2008). “Korpus. Brentano, das Buch und die Mobilisierung eines literarischen und politischen Körpers.” Textbewegungen 1800/1900. Hg. Matthias Buschmeier u. Till Dembeck (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2007) 266-286. “The Making of Transnational Textual Communities: German Women Translators 1800-1850.” Women in German Yearbook. Vol. 22. Ed. Helga Kraft and Maggie McCarthy (Lincoln: Nebraska UP, 2006) 119-144. “Rethinking the Print Object: Goethe and the Book of Everything.” PMLA. Special Issue: “The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature.” Eds. Seth Lerer and Leah Price. 121.1 (January 2006): 124-138. [Winner of the Goethe Society of North America’s Essay Prize 2006.] J.W. Goethe, The Man of Fifty. Preface A.S. Byatt. Trans. and Intro. Andrew Piper (London: Hesperus, 2004).

Listing Details

Department of German Studies, Suite 425, 688 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 2T7
Research Description
My current research project aims to bring together books of autobiography alongside books of natural philosophy in order to understand how the category of life was represented on the printed page during the half-century from the early 1780s to the late 1820s. By the turn of the nineteenth century, literary markets across Europe and North America witnessed not just a dramatic increase in writing, but of writing about one’s life. Never before had so much been written about individuals who spent their lives writing. At the same time, one could find an equal attention in the natural sciences to the representation of the category of life, including a diverse range of fields that spanned botany, zoology, anatomy, physics, chemistry and optics, a tide of books all purporting to explain the enigma of the organic. For Romantic writers, understanding life depended as much upon the controlled practices of scientific experiment as it did the more open-ended media work of literary experiments in self-disclosure. In addressing this convergence of material, my question is not simply a Foucauldian one of how life emerged as a distinct field of knowledge around 1800, but more specifically how life came to be written, how it came to be understood as a writable object of knowledge. If there is a profound sense today of both the writtenness of life and the autobiographical nature of new media, I am interested in returning to the historical moment when this alignment between writing and life became increasingly inseparable. How did the changing nature of the book at the end of the eighteenth century shape the way individuals conceptualized the idea of life? And how did notions of the organic inflect the way individuals understood their books? In other words, how did the biographical, the bibliographical, and the biological all influence one another?