This course studies the materiality of literary production from the invention of writing through today’s digital moment. Examining the interplay between textual objects and their linguistic content, we will focus on how the physical processes of composition, publication, and circulation affect textual meaning. How have the technologies of the pen, the press, the postal system, the telegraph, and the computer affected concepts of communication? How can we best understand the ways these technologies successively interact with one another? And how have literary works responded to such developments? Readings will include primary sources reflecting on the introduction of new media, literary texts that emphasize materiality in various ways, and secondary readings in the fields of book history, bibliography, and the digital humanities. While featuring foundational readings in these fields (Ong, Eisenstein, Johns, Darnton, McKenzie, McDowell) we will also take an “intersectional book history” approach with recent work that is expanding the boundaries of the field (Jackson, McHenry, Fuentes, Habib). Two class sessions will be held in the Maker Lab to set type and print, and other sessions will be held in the library’s Special Research Collections.
Course Number: ENGL 236
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 236
Quarter: Spring 2019
Instructor: King, Rachael Scarborough