From Screen to Page

From Screen to Page

Reading Matthew Kirschenbaum’s superb Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing recently reminded me of a curious element of bpNichol’s First Screening, one the canonical early works of electronic literature (see Jim Andrews’s website for an emulated version and commentary). First Screening is now often treated–and transmitted–as a batch of twelve kinetic poems (originally programmed in Apple BASIC). In fact, Nichol published it as a little book in an edition of 100 copies, the first imprint of the “Underwhich Software Series.” Readers reached the floppy disk only after gazing…

A Viewing

A Viewing

In the spring, the library staff at my institution made its usual solicitation for end-of-year purchases, particularly wants of the pricier variety. I approached our departmental liaison with an unusual request: artists’ books. As suggested in some earlier posts (particularly the unfinished “Reading Labs” thread), I have been thinking quite a bit about artists’ books in recent years, and I’ve been looking for ways to introduce them in my teaching. The very-easy-to-refuse offer that I made to the library staff was for the establishment of a small collection of artists’…

Amicable Annotation, Part 9 (Women and Men)

Amicable Annotation, Part 9 (Women and Men)

[Image: Marginal remark by Hester Piozzi (a.k.a. “Mrs. Thrale” of Johnson-lore) in a copy of her Observations and reflections made in the course of a journey through France, Italy, and Germany. This annotated copy was given by Piozzi to her friend William Augustus Conway in 1819.] In recent installments in this miniseries (particularly Parts 6 and 8), I have been stressing that book culture in the long eighteenth century could create a more equal context capable of sustaining cross-sex friendship. Yet we must admit that in both of the cases…

Amicable Annotation, Part 8 (Women and Men, Cont’d)

Amicable Annotation, Part 8 (Women and Men, Cont’d)

[Feature Image: Title page of A Collection of Poems, Chiefly in Manuscript, and Written by Living Authors. Baillie rounded up poems from members of her circle, including Walter Scott, in order to help a friend, Mrs. James Stirling, whose husband had recently died. The decision to include the “friend” on the title page, in effect using its gift-end to market the book, speaks to the age’s high regard for friendship. To buy the book was to participate in the unnamed friend’s care, even perhaps to befriend her.] This post continues…

“Reading Practices,” Notes toward a definition

“Reading Practices,” Notes toward a definition

[Feature image: Study: At a Reading Desk by Sir Frederick Leighton (1877)] The members of the Reading and Selving seminar are now busy assembling presentations on the reading practices of different periods in the West–from monasticism to the “reading revolution” (or lack thereof) of the eighteenth century. As I was preparing the directions for the exercise, I realized that I had been taking for granted that students knew exactly what I meant when I used the terminology of “reading practices.” And not only in this class, but in many others…

Amicable Annotation, Part 7 (Notes on Jackson’s Marginalia)

Amicable Annotation, Part 7 (Notes on Jackson’s Marginalia)

[Feature image: Selection from George Crabbe’s The Library (1781); also quoted in Jackson’s Marginalia. Crabbe continues: “Our nicer palates lighter labours seek, / Cloy’d with a Folio-number once a week.” In other words, we’ve got too many books on hand to handle them with our “patient Fathers’” sort of care.] I concluded Part 4 of this miniseries by reflecting on a few striking phrases that H. J. Jackson invents to describe annotatively-enhanced books in her 2001 study Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books (note that publication date: we’ll come back to…

Amicable Annotation, Part 6 (Men and Women)

Amicable Annotation, Part 6 (Men and Women)

[Lady Bradshaigh and Samuel Richardson converse in the margins of Clarissa. Full text at the Princeton University Digital Library.] Part 1 of the “amicable annotation” miniseries is here. Or you might begin at the midpoint, Part 5. Enjoy Part 6. In the summer of 1748, the novelist Samuel Richardson received a letter from one “Belfour,” who wrote to prevent a “fatal catastrophe.” “I am pressed, Sir,” the letter begins, “by a multitude of your admirers, to plead in [sic] behalf of your amiable Clarissa.” Yes, the target of Belfour’s intervention…

Amicable Annotation, Part 5 (The Century of Friendship)

Amicable Annotation, Part 5 (The Century of Friendship)

[A book that got a whole lot of use in the 18th c. More details at the MCRS Rare Books Blog.] Nota bene, dear reader: in the next few posts of this miniseries, our ground shifts to the eighteenth century. This post does not address annotation directly until some remarks at the end that attempt to lay out what’s ahead. My hope is that this post will convey something of the new atmosphere in which “friendship by the book” occurs in this time period. Happy reading. Part 1 is here….

The Figure of Oscillatio (Part 2)

The Figure of Oscillatio (Part 2)

[Image: Another historiated initial in a medieval book–found in this case in a psalter held at the British Library.] Part 1 is here. Enjoy Part 2. In both The Electronic Word and Econ of Attn, Lanham maps his theory of oscillation on four-line matrices. In the earlier book, this chart plots four considerations–object, viewer, reality, and motive– on spectra of un/selfconsciousness. Lanham stresses that these are not simple either/or considerations; works of art or criticism are unlikely to be pure examples of one pole or the other: Here’s how he…