Friday, July 22, 2011

Judging a book by its cover: Robert S. Westman, The Copernican Question

I put the page proofs of Printing and Prophecy in the mail today. According to the University of Michigan Press's advertisement in the program for the upcoming German Studies Association conference, the book should be out in September.

Also this week, I came across an addition to the very small number of English-language book directly relevant to the topics I cover in Printing and Prophecy, and it was published just this month:

Westman, Robert S.
The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.Hardcover, 704 pages. ISBN: 9780520254817. $95.00.

I'm already envious of the cover. It's gorgeous. I haven't seen the cover design of Printing and Prophecy yet, but I can only hope for something this beautiful.
I haven't had a chance to read The Copernican Question yet, although I'll need to read it soon. After scanning the excerpt on the University of California Press website and as much as Google Books would let me read, The Copernican Question is looking like a major contribution to the field.

I'm not worried about Printing and Prophecy becoming redundant, however. The two books are looking at some similar materials in similar but not identical time periods, and asking very different questions about them. My focus is squarely on the German-speaking regions, while The Copernican Question has a broader European focus. While Westman's book is examining the intellectual history of Renaissance astrology, I'm primarily interested in prophecy as a rhetorical and communicative framework for authors and genres, and in its expression in the medium of print. Consequently, I spend most of my time digging into works and authors that appear only briefly or not at all in The Copernican Question, while I treat superficially or ignore altogether its main themes--such as Nicolaus Copernicus, who gets nothing more than a passing mention in Printing and Prophecy. Where the two books might overlap, such as on the printing of prognostic pamphlets or on the flood panic of 1524, I suspect that they will be complementary rather than redundant.

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