Methods and Mythologies in Book History
Publication Year: 2013
What is a book in the study of print culture? For the scholar of material texts, it is not only a singular copy carrying the unique traces of printing and preservation efforts, or an edition, repeated and repeatable, or a vehicle for ideas to be abstracted from the physical copy. But when the bibliographer situates a book copy within the methods of book history, Joseph A. Dane contends, it is the known set of assumptions which govern the discipline that bibliographic arguments privilege, repeat, or challenge. "Book history," he writes, "is us."
In Blind Impressions, Dane reexamines the field of material book history by questioning its most basic assumptions and definitions. How is print defined? What are the limits of printing history? What constitutes evidence? His concluding section takes form as a series of short studies in theme and variation, considering such matters as two-color printing, the composing stick used by hand-press printers, the bibliographical status of book fragments, and the function of scholarly illustration in the Digital Age. Meticulously detailed, deeply learned, and often contrarian, Blind Impressions is a bracing critique of the way scholars define and solve problems.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Download PDF (193.6 KB)
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (225.4 KB)
Download PDF (151.3 KB)
Download PDF (224.1 KB)
To write on print culture, one might start by selecting a monumental book from the presumed history of that culture: it might be the Gutenberg Bible; it might be an edition of Aldus Manutius, Shakespeare’s First Folio, the French Encyclopédie. We might choose less grand things as well: a run- of- the- mill edition of an Elizabethan play, a fragment of an early grammar book. ...
PART I. WHAT IS PRINT?
Chapter 1. Paleography Versus Typography
Download PDF (374.8 KB)
In 2011, in an introductory section entitled “No Leaners,” I made a simple observation regarding the distinction between type and script. However we defi ne type, it is distinguished from script by the discrete nature of the type-case: a typesort either is or is not in a type compartment of a typecase; a typefont has a fi nite and identifi able number of letterforms. In this chapter, ...
Chapter 2. "Ca. 1800": What's in a Date?
Download PDF (264.7 KB)
When Rabelais and others characterized their own period as involved in “la restitution des bonnes lettres,” they created what we now know as the Mid-dle Ages, a period between two points of interest, Roman classical times and contemporary times, with both periods romanticized through a Re nais sance Th e medieval period was equivalent to the Dark Ages: inaccessible, ...
Chapter 3. Bibliographers of the Mind
Download PDF (231.2 KB)
One of the most infl uential articles written on bibliography in the past half century is D. F. McKenzie’s “Printers of the Mind.” It is likely the compel-ling nature of the title and the implied thesis that have prevented me from reading or re- reading it as closely as I should, and I assume I am not alone in this. Th at title suggests there are two kinds of printers: (1) printers who ex-...
PART II. ON THE MAKING OF LISTS
Chapter 4. Herman R. Mead's Incunabula in the Huntington Library and the Notion of "Typographical Value"
Download PDF (290.7 KB)
Th e Huntington Library cata logue of fi fteenth- century books was produced by Herman R. Mead in 1937. Th e cata logue and collection were to be or ga-nized according to the Proctor system, also the basis for a number of contem-porary incunable cata logues; items are or ga nized under country, town, printer, and date of printing within each printer, and the order of entries in the cata-...
Chapter 5. Catchtitles in English Books to 1550
Download PDF (330.5 KB)
A little- noted feature of early sixteenth- century En glish books is what Victor Scholderer refers to, in reference to fi fteenth- century Italian books, as the “catch- title.” Catchtitles are abbreviated forms of the book title printed on the direction line, that is, the line used for printed signatures and catchwords just below the text block. Th ey appear generally on the fi rst page of a quire, ...
Chapter 6. An Editorial Propaedeutic
Download PDF (242.3 KB)
Bibliography as understood or defi ned by Anglo- American bibliographers has always been closely associated with editing, and the following chapter focuses on what appears to be the most basic function of traditional editing— organizing and evaluating extant variants (a set of facts) in such a way as to indicate an original reading, or perhaps the source of error in these extant ...
PART III. IRONIES OF HISTORY AND REPRESENTATION: THEME AND VARIATION
Download PDF (159.9 KB)
Most of the scholars I know settled into their fields by accident. As a would-be medievalist, I found myself, through no doing of my own, in Los Angeles. Medieval resources there, primary and secondary, could not compete with those of New York or large European libraries, but materials in book history and bibliography were abundant. ...
III.1. Book History and Book Histories: On the Making of Lists
Download PDF (294.6 KB)
Most of us have at some point been commissioned or required to compose a “Survey of Scholarship,” perhaps as a free-standing monograph, perhaps as an introduction to a scholarly article, or even in the opening meetings of a class. On the one hand, the allure is irresistible: that perfectly designed lecture or schema, ...
III.2. Meditation on the Composing Stick
Download PDF (407.1 KB)
Th e composing stick is an essential piece of equipment in traditional print-ing. It is the basis for most of what Moxon says about the “Compositor,” who in turn is the basis for much of modern bibliographical discussion, both in analytical bibliography and in the textual criticism related to it.Composing- stick, yet our Master- Printer ought to furnish his House ...
III.3. The Red and the Black
Download PDF (197.8 KB)
With that, I am pretending to concede that I have given up methodological strictures and shifted to the personal. In fact, that concession is a gambit. I am conceding this in order to enforce the argument I have made all along: that bibliographical arguments must be made in the context of par tic u lar problems, par tic u lar settings, and fi nally par tic u lar researchers with their ...
Download PDF (371.5 KB)
Bowdoin College Library has what I call a run- of- the- mill early sixteenth- century psalter in a cheap contemporary binding. Bound in as an end-paper is an equally routine sheet of another nearly contemporary psalter or Th ere is nothing unusual about this. Loose sheets or leaves of books are routinely used as pastedowns or binding material, whether originally print-...
III.5. The Nature and Function of Scholarly Illustration in a Digital World
Download PDF (186.9 KB)
A recent scholarly book I reviewed has a number of illustrations, twenty- eight by my count. Of these, most have the requisite permissions, all written in formulaic phrases, “Reproduced with the permission of the President and Fellows of Saint John Baptist College in the University of Oxford.” Th is must have been composed by the institution owning the image, as this is not ...
III.6. Art of the Mind
Download PDF (227.0 KB)
A recent Getty Museum project involves the restoration of a Roy Lichten-stein piece, reported in the Los Angeles Times in “Lichtenstein’s Th ree Brush Strokes gets a Brush Up.” Th e project is a poster- child for restoration. Th e artist/restorer is James DePasquale, “a longtime Lichtenstein assistant who manages the late artist’s studio in Southampton, NY.” Th e Getty received the ...
Download PDF (348.6 KB)
Download PDF (202.8 KB)
Aers, David. “A Whisper in the Ear of Early Modernists: or, Refl ections on Literary Crit-ics Writing the ‘History of the Subject’.” 1991. Rpt. in David Aers, ed., Culture and History (1350– 1600): Essays on En glish Communities, Identities, and Writing. Detroit: Alston, R. C., and M. J. Jannetta. Bibliography, Machine Readable Cata loguing, and the ESTC: A Summary History of the Eigh teenth Century Short Title Cata logue. London: ...
Download PDF (184.3 KB)
Download PDF (151.4 KB)
An earlier version of Chapter 4 appeared as “Herman R. Mead’s Incunabula at the Huntington Library and the Notion of ‘Typographical Value’.” I thank the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand for permission to reprint the revised version here. For photos and photo permissions, I thank the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections at Bowdoin Col-...
Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 9 illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Material Texts
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Roger Chartier, Joseph Farrell, Anthony Grafton, Leah Price, Peter Stallybrass, Michael F. Suarez, S.J.