Verplanck receives NEH award and research fellowship to support book project

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Anne Verplanck, associate professor of American studies and heritage studies at Penn State Harrisburg, has received two awards to support the research and writing of her book “The Business of Art: Transforming the Graphic Arts in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”  The awards include a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for summer 2017, and a 4-month research fellowship for fall 2017 through the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Verplanck will be on sabbatical for the 2017-18 academic year for this project.

Verplanck's book will analyze how the art world functioned in the context of changing business structures, technological innovations, and rapid urban development. This analysis of the financial underpinnings and creative output of artists, printers, publishers, and others in the art world will provide new perspectives on artistic patronage, production, and distribution; urban development; and business practices.

Using Philadelphia as its focus, the book positions the city in both national and international contexts of production, consumption, and distribution. The book analyzes why seemingly contradictory innovative and old-fashioned practices and mindsets in Philadelphia enabled the infrastructure surrounding high-caliber graphic arts to expand during the antebellum period, yet ultimately cede prominence as the nation’s artistic center to New York City.

According to the NEH, Summer Stipend applications are evaluated by peer review panels and by the National Council on the Humanities. This year they funded approximately eight percent of the more than 800 applications received.

The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library concentrating on American society and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. It houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art. The library’s Program in Early American Economy and Society augments, catalogs, and conserves its collections related to the areas of commerce, business, banking, technology, and other fields. In addition, the Program sponsors seminars, establishes public outreach programs, holds conferences involving scholars of the early American economy, and publishes conference proceedings and monographs.