Dear Workshop,

On Thursday, November 18, Seth Perry, Ph.D. Candidate in the Divinity School will present his essay:

“Meanings in the Margins: The Marginalia of Early-National Bibles”

Seth writes:

Chapter 2 of my dissertation will discuss five general categories of biblical paratexts common in early nineteenth century bibles, arguing that they exercised an under-explored capacity to affect readers’ understanding and use of scripture.  Just as individual Protestants were being encouraged to turn to the “Bible alone” to confront theological questions and work out their own salvation, the physical bibles to which they turned were increasingly likely to contain a variety of extra-scriptural voices and traditions.  In most bibles from this period, there is no discrete section of the codex which could be called “the Bible alone.”  However a bible was approached – opened at the front, flipped through at random, opened to a particular verse known by heart or found through an index or concordance – the framing materials of that bible were an inescapable part of it.  The section of this chapter I’ll be presenting to the workshop deals specifically with marginalia – framing paratexts which appeared in the margins of printed bibles, sharing pages with the text of scripture.  It features a case study of the cross references attached to biblical passages regarded as relevant to the most fraught political and moral issue of the nineteenth century, American slavery.

Time: 12:00, Thursday, November 18, 2010

Place: Swift Hall, Room 400

Food: Snacks provided, feel free to bring your lunch!

Paper: Copies of the essay are available via email by contacting

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact
Paul Chang in advance at