The Politics of the Book

A Study on the Materiality of Ideas

By (author) Filipe Carreira da Silva, Monica Brito Vieira

Paperback - £27.95

Publication date:

15 July 2021

Length of book:

272 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271083438

It is impossible to separate the content of a book from its form. In this study, Filipe Carreira da Silva and Mónica Brito Vieira expand our understanding of the history of social and political scholarship by examining how the entirety of a book mediates and constitutes meaning in ways that affect its substance, appropriation, and reception over time.

Examining the evolving form of classic works of social and political thought, including W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, G. H. Mead’s Mind, Self, and Society, and Karl Marx’s 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, Carreira da Silva and Brito Vieira show that making these books involved many hands. They explore what publishers, editors, translators, and commentators accomplish by offering the reading public new versions of the works under consideration, examine debates about the intended meaning of the works and discussions over their present relevance, and elucidate the various ways in which content and material form are interwoven. In doing so, Carreira da Silva and Brito Vieira characterize the editorial process as a meaning-producing action involving both collaboration and an ongoing battle for the importance of the book form to a work’s disciplinary belonging, ideological positioning, and political significance.

Theoretically sophisticated and thoroughly researched, The Politics of the Book radically changes our understanding of what doing social and political theory—and its history—implies. It will be welcomed by scholars of book history, the history of social and political thought, and social and political theory.

“This engaging, knowledgeable project significantly extends debates about the nature and stability of the sociological canon (implicitly, almost any disciplinary canon). While emphasizing the materiality of the making of intellectual authority, the authors also offer interesting interpretative analyses of the selected 'classics.'”

—Gregor McLennan, author of Story of Sociology