Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

David S. Shields


Print on Demand explores the role and significance of stereotyping and electrotyping in the United States printing trades and publishing industry during the early nineteenth century. Stereotyping—the creation of solid printing plates cast from moveable type—fundamentally changed the ways in which books (and later, periodicals) were printed. The commissioning of plates altered shop practices, distribution methods, and the author/publisher relationship. Because of this new embodiment of capital and texts in the form of printing plates, a secondhand market for stereotyped works prolonged and complicated the production and distribution of material texts. The primary focus of this study is the ways in which the printing trades and nascent publishing industry in the early nineteenth-century United States managed this transition. It examines the relationships between typefounders and the printer/publishers who employed them to cast plates, and the decisions made by publishers deciding which books to invest in plates to maximize the production and distribution of certain types of printed works. It looks at the evangelical origins of mass media in the United States through the work of the American Bible Society, whose founding coincided perfectly with the introduction of stereotyping. It also looks at the ways in which a newfound material understanding of the role of texts pervades nineteenth-century American culture, from the physicality and ubiquity of plates to the popular uses of the term stereotyping itself as a metaphor for the expansiveness and limitations of rapid technological change.


© 2018, Jeffrey Michael Makala