The Political Economy of Reading, revised edition
- William St Clair
Did reading help to determine mentalities? Taking a long view, and building on his quantitative work in The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge UP 2004), William St Clair in his lecture discusses the inadequacy of current parade and parliament conventions of literary and intellectual history. He advocates instead, following the classic Enlightenment political economists such as Adam Smith, an attempt to assess the observed consequences of different manufacturing technologies and intellectual property regimes on price, quantity, and access. His historical findings, and his comments on how the discourses of property and creativity have obscured those of state-guaranteed monopoly, are highly relevant to current policy questions.
The John Coffin Memorial Lecture of which this a revised, corrected, and enlarged version, updated with new relevant statistics, was given and published in 2005.
Download the 2012 revised version (PDF, 499kb)