Jonathan Senchyne is an Associate Professor of Book History and Print Culture in the Information School and Director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Art History, the Center for Design and Material Culture, and the Material Culture Studies program. He came to UW after earning his Ph.D. in English at Cornell University. Senchyne has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society and was the Pine Tree Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Future of the Book in a Digital Age at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. 

Senchyne is the author The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020) as well as over a dozen essays in journals including Book HistoryTechnology and CulturePMLA, and American Literary History. He researches and teaches the history of the book and print culture in early and nineteenth-century America. This also touches on work in American studies, American literary history, critical theory, material culture, digital humanities, library history, and archival theory and practice.


The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature is available!

“Senchyne writes paper back into the story of American literary history with implications for book history and literary criticism alike. As he demonstrates, the intersections between print and paper, between ostensible foreground and background, are surprisingly generative, with lasting effects on how we read (and hold and look at) printed works.”—Susan M. Ryan, author of The Moral Economies of American Authorship.

“Senchyne finds new interpretative possibilities in the main ingredient of books and paper, not just a substrate for writing and printing but a form of expression in its own right.”—John Bidwell, author of American Paper Mills, 1690–1832.

The Intimacy of Paper Reviewed in Public Books.

“To foreground paper’s place in book production, Senchyne shows, is to reimagine it as a circuit that encompasses rags and linen, the hands they passed through and the indiscriminate mass of heterogeneous bodies that wore them.”

“The affordances of paper—far-reaching as they are—rest on such vicissitudes: the interactions of ink, plant fibers, and the animal-based “sizing” used to limit absorbency. Paper’s story is conventionally one of human ingenuity and progress toward efficiency. But here, in these studies, Senchyne and Calhoun replace ingenuity and efficiency with glitches, failed experiments, and recalcitrant matter: the unpredictable relations between embodied subjects and the physical world. Seen close-up like this, paper’s story is as uneven and bumpy as the surface of rag paper itself.”

Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African American Print is available!

“This collection challenges mainstream book history and print culture to understand that race and racialization are inseparable from the study of texts and their technologies.”


May 2019 Book of Interest to African American Scholars, Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Recent and Upcoming Talks

“Genealogies of Black Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century Symposium” American Literary History and Trowbridge Initiative in American Culture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. April 5, 2019.


Fourth annual conference of the Center for Humanities and Information, Penn State University, State College, PA. September 20, 2019.

Penn Workshop in the History of Material Texts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. September 23, 2019.

Closing Keynote, “Year of Letterpress,” de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. May 28, 2020. (Cancelled due to COVID-19 Pandemic)

Program in the History of the Book in America Virtual Book Talk, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA. July 30, 2020.

“Meantime the colleges, whilst they provide us with libraries, furnish no professor of books ; and I think no chair is so much wanted.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Books."