Ink under the Fingernails: Printing Politics in Nineteenth-Century Mexico

Graphic that reads: "Ink Under the Finger Nails: Printing Politics in the nineteenth-Century Mexico. Corinna Zeltsman"
Ink Under The Fingernails, Corinna Zeltsman
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Corina Zeltsman

Event Info

During the independence era in Mexico, individuals and factions of all stripes embraced the printing press as a key weapon in the broad struggle for political power. As shaky governments developed new laws regulating press freedom, they fixed their attentions on the printing shops of Mexico City, where a cross-section of urban society collaborated to produce the materials of literate culture. Press freedom brought scrutiny to Mexico City’s printing communities throughout the nineteenth century, but it also opened unprecedented opportunities for practitioners to craft public reputations, participate in politics, shape legal debates over press freedom, and challenge the social stigma associated with manual labor.

Introducing the vibrant world of nineteenth-century printing politics that flourished in Mexico City, site of the oldest printing tradition in the Western Hemisphere, this book talk with Corinna Zeltsman delves into the working worlds of Mexico’s printing shops, where a diverse cast of artisans and workers engaged the major political currents of the day as they pushed for respect and recognition from behind the scenes. Printing shops, indeed, represent unexplored spaces of democratic practice, where the boundaries between manual and intellectual labor blurred.

Book Talk is a series organized by Roni Gross, featuring a diverse range of artists, academics, and thinkers developing critical dialogue around books.

Note: Center for Book Arts will hold this event entirely online. A Zoom link will be sent in an email to all registrants.

Corinna Zeltsman is an assistant professor of history at Georgia Southern University. Her research focuses on the history of printing and the book, political culture, and labor in Latin America. Her forthcoming book, Ink under the Fingernails: Printing Politics in Nineteenth-Century Mexico (University of California Press, 2021), examines how everyday practices and conflicts surrounding print production shaped broader debates about press freedom and authorship across the long nineteenth century. Before earning her PhD in Latin American History, she studied letterpress printing and bookbinding at the Center for Book Arts, where she also worked as an administrator. She is currently a senior fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School and a member of the Seminario Interdisciplinario de Bibliología at the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

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