John J. Garcia

Assistant Professor
WMS 229
History of the book in America, seventeenth- through nineteenth-century; history of text technologies, colonial and nineteenth-century American literature; critical theory (materiality, media, social theory); Latinx literature

John J. Garcia, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (Rhetoric and Critical Theory, 2014), specializes in the history of the book in America from the colonial era to about 1900. Dr. Garcia is broadly interested in the material histories of cultural artifacts and documents and how they intersect with issues such as race, politics, war, and the body. He is currently at work on a cultural history of publishing, printing, papermaking, and paperwork entitled Without Order: Booksellers and the Failures of the Early American Book Trade, 1679-1840. The book uses extensive archival research to reconceptualize the rise of print culture in early America by foregrounding experiences of debt, bankruptcy, exploitation, and miscommunication in book publishing. By examining the materiality of failure, this project calls attention to the many social relations catalyzed around booksellers and the book trade in early America.

A second book-length project in the works is a critical edition of the illustrated diary of an insane man who spent most of his life in European and American asylums in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Graphic Madness: The Illustrated Diary of Charles A. Beach will make available a unique primary source that will be of interest for disabilities studies as well as for nineteenth-century American literature and visual culture.

Other writings currently under review include a book chapter on the censorship of soldier writing from the U.S. invasion of Mexico (1846-1848) and an article that explains how nineteenth-century subscription publishing expanded to create a global market that catered to the reading tastes of settlers and expats living in British imperial port cities.

Garcia is a Senior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School, where he serves on the committee for Diversity & Outreach. Events that he has co-organized include a 2019 conference on The Futures of Handwriting, as well as earlier conferences and symposia on the Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures (2015) and Early American Material Texts (2016).

Select Publications

  • “Keyword: Networks” Early American Studies 16.4 (Fall 2018): 721-727.
  • “‘He Hath Ceased to be a Citizen’: Stephen Burroughs, Late Loyalists, Lower Canada” Early American Literature 52.3 (Fall 2017): 591-618.
  • “A Matter of ‘Improvements’: Cooper, Race, and Manuscript Alterations in the Transatlantic Revision of The Spy” The James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal (Spring 2018): 35-42.
  • “Print Culture and Popular History in the Era of the U.S.-Mexican War” Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life 17.1 (Fall 2016)

Select Fellowships and Grants

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2019-20.
  • Scholars’ Workshop, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, College of William & Mary, Summer 2018.
  • Reese Fellowship in the Print Culture of the Americas, The Huntington Library, Summer 2018.
  • Reese Fellowship in the Print Culture of the Americas, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, May 2018.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Program in Early American Economy and Society, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2017-18.
  • Short-Term Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library, May 2017.
  • Short-Term Fellowship, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library. Aug. 2016.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography, Rare Book School, University of Virginia, 2013-15.
  • Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2015-16.
  • Katherine Pantzer Fellowship in the British Book Trade, Bibliographical Society of America, 2015.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Early American Literature and Material Texts, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2013-14.