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Knowing Books Cover

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Knowing Books

The Consciousness of Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain

By Christina Lupton

The eighteenth century has long been associated with realism and objective description, modes of representation that deemphasize writing. But in the middle decades of the century, Christina Lupton observes, authors described with surprising candor the material and economic facets of their own texts' production. In Knowing Books Lupton examines a variety of eighteenth-century sources, including sermons, graffiti, philosophical texts, and magazines, which illustrate the range and character of mid-century experiments with words announcing their status as physical objects. Books that "know" their own presence on the page and in the reader's hand become, in Lupton's account, tantalizing objects whose entertainment value competes with that of realist narrative.

Knowing Books introduces these mid-eighteenth-century works as part of a long history of self-conscious texts being greeted as fashionable objects. Poststructuralist and Marxist approaches to literature celebrate the consciousness of writing and economic production as belonging to revolutionary understandings of the world, but authors of the period under Lupton's gaze expose the facts of mediation without being revolutionary. On the contrary, their explication of economic and material processes shores up their claim to material autonomy and economic success. Lupton uses media theory and close reading to suggest the desire of eighteenth-century readers to attribute sentience to technologies and objects that entertain them.

Rather than a historical study of print technology, Knowing Books offers a humanist interpretation of the will to cede agency to media. This horizon of theoretical engagement makes Knowing Books at once an account of the least studied decades of the eighteenth century and a work of relevance for those interested in new attitudes toward media in the twenty-first.

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Kundera and Modernity

by Liisa Steinby

While a large amount of scholarship about Milan Kundera's work exists, in Liisa Steinby's opinion his work has not been studied within the context of (European) modernity as a sociohistorical and a cultural concept. Of course, he is considered to be a modernist writer (some call him even a postmodernist), but what the broader concept of modernity intellectually, historically, socially, and culturally means for him and how this is expressed in his texts has not been thoroughly examined. Steinby's book fills this vacuum by analyzing Kundera's novels from the viewpoint of his understanding of the existential problems in the culture of modernity. In addition, his relation to those modernist novelists from the first half of the twentieth century who are most important for him is scrutinized in detail. Steinby’s Kundera and Modernity is intended for students of modernism in literary and (comparative) cultural studies, as well as those interested in European and Central European studies. Key Points: • Offers new insights into the work of the popular modern writer Milan Kundera. • Expands the reader’s understanding of the meaning of the concept of “modernity.” • Widens the literature available in English about Central European culture. Quote: “This work is superb. By examining the works and traditions that Kundera claims to have influenced him, Steinby demonstrates how Kundera’s misreading of previous novelists as well as his own desire to be taken out of the Czech or Central European context has informed his own work. This book is the result of many years of painstaking research.” Craig Cravens, Indiana University

Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America Cover

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Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America

Literacy Instruction and Acquisition in a Cultural Context

E Jennifer Monaghan

An experienced teacher of reading and writing and an award-winning historian, E. Jennifer Monaghan brings to vibrant life the process of learning to read and write in colonial America. Ranging throughout the colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia, she examines the instruction of girls and boys, Native Americans and enslaved Africans, the privileged and the poor, revealing the sometimes wrenching impact of literacy acquisition on the lives of learners. For the most part, religious motives underlay reading instruction in colonial America, while secular motives led to writing instruction. Monaghan illuminates the history of these activities through a series of deeply researched and readable case studies. An Anglican missionary battles mosquitoes and loneliness to teach the New York Mohawks to write in their own tongue. Puritan fathers model scriptural reading for their children as they struggle with bereavement. Boys in writing schools, preparing for careers in counting houses, wield their quill pens in the difficult task of mastering a "good hand." Benjamin Franklin learns how to compose essays with no teacher but himself. Young orphans in Georgia write precocious letters to their benefactor, George Whitefield, while schools in South Carolina teach enslaved black children to read but never to write. As she tells these stories, Monaghan clears new pathways in the analysis of colonial literacy. She pioneers in exploring the implications of the separation of reading and writing instruction, a topic that still resonates in today's classrooms. Monaghan argues that major improvements occurred in literacy instruction and acquisition after about 1750, visible in rising rates of signature literacy. Spelling books were widely adopted as they key text for teaching young children to read; prosperity, commercialism, and a parental urge for gentility aided writing instruction, benefiting girls in particular. And a gentler vision of childhood arose, portraying children as more malleable than sinful. It promoted and even commercialized a new kind of children's book designed to amuse instead of convert, laying the groundwork for the "reading revolution" of the new republic.

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The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society

Vol. 7 (2006) through current issue

The Library is the journal of the Bibliographical Society. For more than a hundred years it has been the pre-eminent scholarly journal for the history of books, both manuscript and printed, and the role of books in history. All aspects of descriptive and historical bibliography come within its scope, including the general and economic history of the production and distribution of books, paper, printing types, illustration, and binding, as well as the transmission of texts and their authenticity. Each issue of The Library normally contains 100-115 pages, illustrated where necessary. Also included in each issue are reviews and lists of recent books and periodicals in the field. A comprehensive index is issued annually.

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Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism

Nicholas Mason

Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism investigates the entwined histories of the advertising industry and the gradual commodification of literature over the course of the Romantic Century (1750–1850). In this well-written and detailed study, Nicholas Mason argues that the seemingly antagonistic arenas of marketing and literature share a common genealogy and, in many instances, even a symbiotic relationship. Drawing from archival materials such as publisher account books, merchant trade cards, and author letters, Mason traces the beginnings of many modern advertising methods—including product placement, limited-time offers, and journalistic puffery—to the British book trade during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until now, Romantic scholars have not fully recognized advertising’s cultural significance or the importance of this period in the origins of modern advertising. Mason explores Lord Byron’s appropriation of branding, Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s experiments in visual marketing, and late-Romantic debates over advertising's claim to be a new branch of the literary arts. Mason uses the antics of Romantic-era advertising to illustrate the profound implications of commercial modernity, both in economic practices governing the book trade and, more broadly, in the development of the modern idea of literature.

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Literary Tourism, the Trossachs, and Walter Scott

Edited by Ian Brown

In 1810 a literary phenomenon swept through Britain, Europe and beyond: the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake, set in the wild romantic landscape around Loch Katrine and the Trossachs. The world’s first international blockbusting bestseller, in terms of sheer publishing sensation nothing like it was seen until the Harry Potter books. Exploring the potent appeal that links books, places, authors and readers, this collection of eleven essays examines tourism in the Trossachs both before and after 1810, and surveys the indigenous Gaelic culture of the area. It also considers how Sir Walter’s writings responded to the landscape, history and literature of the region, and traces his impact on the tourists, authors and artists who thronged in his wake.

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Metamedia

American Book Fictions and Literary Print Culture after Digitization

Alexander Starre

Does literature need the book? With electronic texts and reading devices growing increasingly popular, the codex is no longer the default format of fiction. Yet as Alexander Starre shows in Metamedia, American literature has rediscovered the book as an artistic medium after the first e-book hype in the late 1990s. By fusing narrative and design, a number of “bibliographic” writers have created reflexive fictions—metamedia—that invite us to read printed formats in new ways. Their work challenges ingrained theories and beliefs about literary communication and its connections to technology and materiality. Metamedia explores the book as a medium that matters and introduces innovative critical concepts to better grasp its narrative significance.

Combining sustained textual analysis with impulses from the fields of book history, media studies, and systems theory, Starre explains the aesthetics and the cultural work of complex material fictions, such as Mark Z.Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), Chip Kidd’s The Cheese Monkeys (2001), Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper (2005), Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (2009), and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (2010). He also broadens his analysis beyond the genre of the novel in an extensive account of the influential literary magazine McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and its founder, Dave Eggers.

For this millennial generation of writers and publishers, the computer was never a threat to print culture, but a powerful tool to make better books. In careful close readings, Starre puts typefaces, layouts, and cover designs on the map of literary criticism. At the same time, the book steers clear of bibliophile nostalgia and technological euphoria as it follows writers, designers, and publishers in the process of shaping the surprising history of literary bookmaking after digitization.

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Misfit Forms

Paths Not Taken by the British Novel

Lorri G. Nandrea

The complicated junctions negotiated by the novel during the eighteenth century reveal not only achievements but also exclusions. Misfit Forms offers a speculative reconstruction of roads less travelled. What if typographical emphasis and its associated transmission of sensuality and feeling had not lost out to “transparent” typography and its paradigms of sympathetic identification? What was truncated when cumulative narrative structures were declared primitive in relation to the unified teleological plot? What visions of the novel’s value as an arena for experience were sidelined when novel reading was linked to epistemological gain?_x000B__x000B_Reading novels by Sterne, Charlotte Bronte, Defoe, Gaskell, Hardy and Woolf in tandem with less known works, Nandrea illuminates the modes and techniques that did not become mainstream. Following Deleuze, Nandrea traces the “dynamic repetitions” of these junctures in the work of later writers. Far from showing the eclipse of primitive modes, such moments of convergence allow us to imagine other possibilities for the novel’s trajectory._x000B_

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Myself and Some Other Being

Wordsworth and the Life Writing

Daniel Robinson

As a young writer with neither profession nor money, William Wordsworth committed himself to a career as a poet, embracing what he believed was his destiny. But even the “giant Wordsworth,” as his friend and collaborator Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him, had his doubts. In Myself and Some Other Being, Daniel Robinson presents a young Wordsworth, as ambitious and insecure as any writer starting out, who was trying to prove to himself that he could become the great poet he desired to be and that Coleridge, equally brilliant and insecure, believed he already was.

Myself and Some Other Being is the story of Wordsworth becoming Wordsworth by writing the fragments and drafts of what would eventually become The Prelude, an autobiographical epic poem addressed to Coleridge that he hid from the public and was only published after his death in 1850. Feeling pressured to write the greatest epic poem of all time, a task set for him by Coleridge, Wordsworth feared that he was not up to the challenge and instead looked inside himself for memories and materials that he might make into poetry using the power of his imagination. What he found there was another Wordsworth—not exactly the memory of his younger self but rather “some other being” that he could adapt for an innovative kind of life-writing that he hoped would justify his writing life. By writing about himself and that other being, Wordsworth created an innovative autobiographical epic of becoming that is the masterpiece he believed he had failed to write.

In focusing on this young, ambitious, yet insecure Wordsworth struggling to find his place among other writers, Robinson ably demonstrates how The Prelude may serve as a provocative, instructive, and inspirational rumination on the writing of one’s own life. Concentrating on the process of Wordsworth’s endless revisions, the real literary business of creativity, Robinson puts Wordsworth forward as a model and inspiration for the next generation of writers.

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Narcissistic Narrative

The Metafictional Paradox

Linda Hutcheon, in this original study, examines the modes, forms and techniques of narcissistic fiction, that is, fiction which includes within itself some sort of commentary on its own narrative and/or linguistic nature. Her analysis is further extended to discuss the implications of such a development for both the theory of the novel and reading theory.

Having placed this phenomenon in its historical context Linda Hutcheon uses the insights of various reader-response theories to explore the “paradox” created by metafiction: the reader is, at the same time, co-creator of the self-reflexive text and distanced from it because of its very self-reflexiveness. She illustrates her analysis through the works of novelists such as Fowles, Barth, Nabokov, Calvino, Borges, Carpentier, and Aquin. For the paperback edition of this important book a preface has been added which examines developments since first publication.

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