E 384K • Bibliography & Textual Studies
What are you reading, when you read texts? You're reading words and navigating intellectual structures, to be sure--but youre also reading paper, ink, fonts, glue, illustrations, code, heft, image resolution, odor, a publishers reputation, handwriting, social cachet, layout, design, branding, and much more. You are reading a version of a text, one particular copy or state or print, borne of one particular act of mechanical inscription. Yet your act of reading spawns other versions, visible and invisible, performative and archival, noumenal and concrete. Texts emerge in such acts of making, looking, and reading, of passing on and storing; they emerge as commodities, repositories of faith, fulcrums of experience, actors, referees, spirits, fuel, warmongers and peacemakers.
Literary study subsists on a set of material textual practices that this course is designed to help make explicit. The goal of the course is to give students tools to ground and generate literary analyses that emerge from both historically specific reading worlds and the politics of race, ethnicity, gender, work, sexuality, aesthetics, nation, space, time (and so on) that animate literary scholarship today. We will explore the history of practices of making, describing, storing, and transmitting texts. We will join that history, engage the paradoxes of preservation, and learn something about the latest modes of textual embodiment by doing some digital bibliographic work. To do that, we will also need to spend some time tracking the long theoretical conversation about inscription and humanity that underlies that history of text-making. The history of texts and ideas about them takes us from the Andes to New England and from ancient China to San Jose, California, during the technology boom of the late 20th century.
Readings may include: McLuhan, Greetham, Borges, Weinberger, Hayles, McKerrow, Chariter, McGann, Tanselle, McKenzie, Gaskell, Eisenstein, Ong, Derrida, Liu, Henkin, Davidson, Winship, and Barchas.