Book Traces

Nineteenth-Century Readers and the Future of the Library

(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021)

Winner of the 2022 Marilyn Gaull Book Award

“This is a beautiful, elegant work: an intimate journey into the poetry of nineteenth-century readers’ lives and books and an eloquent defense of libraries and the humanities.”

Michael C. Cohen, author of The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America


Book Traces is an extraordinary work of scholarship — astute, humane, and methodologically innovative. But its greatest contribution might be in warning scholars of nineteenth-century literature that we should act before we lose a vast, largely unstudied archive of nonrare editions full of utterly unique observations by nineteenth-century readers.”

Gorden Fraser, in Modern Philology

“It is refreshing to read a scholarly monograph in which all of that — love, hope, devotion — is right up front, coupled unapologetically with meticulous and imaginative bibliographic scholarship….Stauffer has done his job, much more than his job, advocating passionately and knowledgeably for the archive he cares about as a scholar of nineteenth-century literature and textual materiality.”

Gabrielle Dean, in Textual Cultures

Book Traces offers a transformative methodology for the study of nineteenth-century poetry and book culture. It is a rare combination: a monograph that is beautifully written, thoughtfully argued, and genuinely affecting…..we encounter multiple remnants of the human past that are recuperable if only we care to look. And through the force of Stauffer’s powerful example, we do…

Michelle Levy, in European Romantic Review

Learn more about the Book Traces project