Professor James Raven
A summary of James Raven’s research interests includes looking into British, European and colonial cultural, literary and bibliographical history c. 1500-1850; particularly the history of publishing, reading, authorship, libraries, novels, and the business and geographies of the book trade.
James Raven is a Fellow of Magdalene College and University Affiliated Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge. He is also Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex and was formerly Reader in Social and Cultural History at the University of Oxford. He has also held visiting appointments in the United States, Australasia, France and several countries of mainland Europe.
His research and publications examine aspects of the social, cultural and communications history of Britain and Western Europe and their colonies between the fifteenth and the early twentieth centuries. For the past thirty years, he has extended in various ways what has become known as ‘the history of the book,’ developing bibliographical studies of the history of the novel, approaches to the history of reading and textual reception, historical mapping, the relationship between media and literary history, the spatial organisation of knowledge, historical bibliography, and colonial cultural history. He has also published on specific aspects of urban, business and popular and intellectual history. Most recently he has considered the global history of books, asking what a ‘book’ really is – in a short monograph What is the History of the Book? (Polity Press, Cambridge 2018) and a forthcoming edited volume ranging from ancient times to the present, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book (forthcoming, OUP 2020).
For many years, he has also worked at senior level for several international and national educational charities, with particular interest in educational access and widening participation, including the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. He serves as Chair of the Lindemann Trust for UK postdoctoral awards for scientific study in the US.