& abstracts


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Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

1999-2000 Schedule & Abstracts

October 4, 1999
Peter Lindenbaum (English)

John Playford was the foremost publisher of music in England from 1651 to the end of the Interregnum and beyond (to 1686). But he wasn't always or exclusively a publisher of music. He in fact began his publishing career in 1647 and in a four-year period published some 26 (known) items, 25 of which were political in nature and revealed a strong Royalist bias. And it was Playford who in 1649 entered in the Stationers' Register the prayers purported to have been uttered by Charles I before his execution. Thus by 1651, when he turned to the almost exclusive publication of music, Playford's name would have strong Royalist associations, and this would continue most obviously with his publication of works by Henry Lawes which invariably announced on their title pages that Lawes was "Servant to his Late Majestie in his Publick and Private Musick." Cromwell would have his own (limited number of) musicians as well, but there is virtually no overlap between his musicians and those whom Playford published. What Playford was doing was self-consciously keeping court-oriented music and musicians in the public domain, in effect in existence, for a specific now disempowered and disenfranchised audience. Even music, then, was politicized in the Interregnum, and it was the imprint of publisher John Playford which would identify that art form as a flag to rally around until better times might come again.

This talk will invoke the critical principle of "material inter- textuality," a dazzlingly simple concept by which I mean the full physical context in which a given work appears. The London book trade of the 16th and 17th centuries was composed of a goodly number of relatively small publishing houses, bookshops, and stalls, many of which had lists designed to appeal to a very specific and distinct clientele. Playford's volumes would be sold in other booksellers' shops besides his own, but the greatest concentration of Playford titles would necessarily be found in Playford's own shop. And Playford's earlier titles did not necessarily disappear after 1651 and his shift to the publication of music; rather, those earlier titles would remain on his shelves until sold off (and then he was likely to reprint, as he did with a narrative of King Charles's trial, in 1655). In order to understand fully the original impact of a given Playford (or indeed any other stationer's) publication, we need to keep in mind the other books on his shelves, the other titles published and sold by him, that a buyer would see or remember when he or she walked into a shop seeking something as apparently innocent as a new book of songs or dances.

October 18, 1999
Peter Stallybrass (Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania)
4:30 to 6 p.m., Lilly Library Lounge

Patrick Collinson has argued that English Protestants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries increasingly read the Bible as a continuous narrative, starting at the beginning and ending at the end. Lady Grace Mildmay wrote that one should read the Bible every day "until we have gone through the whole Bible from the first of Genesis to the last of the Revelation." John Locke went further, attacking the division of St. Paul's epistles into chapters and verses, "whereby they are chopped and minced." Locke argued against reading the Bible "piecmeal," "a bit today, and another scrap tomorrow, and so on by broken intervals."

In this workshop, I want to question this claim that Protestants emphasized continuous reading. We will be looking at prefatory materials, concordances and manuscript marginalia which imply a wide range of discontinuous reading practices used by Protestants. How do these materials suggest ways of navigating the Bible by cutting it into what Locke called "loose sentences" and "distinct fragments"?

Peter Stallybrass is co-author (with Allon White) of The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (1986; 2nd ed., 1990); co-editor of Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture (1996) and Language Machines: Technologies of Literary and Cultural Production (1997); and co-author (with Ann Rosalind Jones) of the forthcoming Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory. He has, as well, written a number of important articles on Shakespeare and his contemporary playwrights, the most relevant to our Seminar's concerns perhaps being the co-authored (with Margreta de Grazia) "The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text," Shakespeare Quarterly, 44 (1993), 255-83.

November 1, 1999
Diane Reilly (Fine Arts)
Lilly Library Lounge

Beginning in the early eleventh century and continuing to the end of the Romanesque period, a series of large illustrated multi-volume Bibles were produced in northern Europe and Italy, mainly in monastic scriptoria. Often called Giant Bibles, these manuscripts are surprisingly similar to one another, both in their large format, and in the series of decorated or historiated initials that introduce many of the books of the Bible.

The impetus behind this boom in the production of large scale Bibles in the Romanesque era has often been attributed to the monastic reforms of the eleventh century. These reform movements revived the practice of reading the Bible aloud in the refectory as originally prescribed in the Benedictine Rule, and therefore created a new demand for corrected Biblical texts. Little connection has been made, however, between the intended use of these manuscripts and the emergence of images to illustrate the text.

In the Bibles of this era, the text of the Song of Songs and its illustration were often accompanied by a series of rubrics inserted either in the margins or into spaces left between the verses in the text. These inscriptions essentially transform the text into a conversation between many characters, with Christ, Ecclesia, Synagoga, and even the Apostles appearing as participants in a dialogue. The monk responsible for reading the Scriptures at table was to undertake a one-man performance of the text, supplying an identifying label before each section of text so that the listeners would recognize which part he was playing at any particular moment. The practice of reading the Song of Songs aloud with its rubrics had in turn some impact on the illustration of the Bible text itself. Illustrations of the Song of Songs often closely mimic the words of the rubric, implying that the artist and his workshop were familiar with the rubrics, even though such notations were often added at a late stage in the production of a manuscript.

With the advent of the Gothic University Bible and vernacular Bibles in the thirteenth century the function of the manuscripts changed. In these later Bibles, usually intended for individual (and silent) reading, the rubrics seem no longer to have inspired illustrators, and in this period illustrations of the Song of Songs disappear from Bible texts.

November 15, 1999
David Nord (Journalism)
Ballantine 004

Shambaugh, Iowa
Jan. 5, 1915

Herald Editors:
My subscription to your paper expires Jan. [15]. Please stop the paper as I am American born protestant and have no further use for a paper in which Rome has the directing hand.

Yours sincerely,
R.E. Young

Harvard, Ill.
Feb. 19, 1915

[no greeting]
I will not sign for your Paper again until you can tell me why you are so down on us Catholics, Why you don't think we ought to have a Liberty of Conscience as well as the Protestants.

H.P. Donovan

Newspaper stories, like poems, do not have fixed meanings. Meaning occurs, not in the text, but in the reading of it. As these two letters to the editor of the Chicago Herald suggest, people can and do read their newspapers in strikingly different ways. Reading the newspaper, like reading a poem or story, is not a transmission of meaning from text to reader, but rather a "transaction" between text and reader. It involves the reader in "replenishing" the text, in "making sense" with it; it involves the reader seeing the text through a prism of "interpretive strategies" provided by "interpretive communities"; it involves the "codes" and "canons" of culture. These terms and catch phrases -- drawn from "reader response" literary criticism -- apply to journalism as well as poetry.

But, in other ways, reading a newspaper is not at all like reading a poem. Two differences are particularly important. First, journalism is a genre with its own peculiar codes and conventions, and readers develop certain expectations of it. Yet the most characteristic convention of modern journalism -- a style of relativism that journalists like to call "objectivity" -- can be both puzzling and annoying to even the most faithful reader. Second, journalism is always intensely political. Of course, this might be said -- is said -- of all literature. But journalism is not merely literature with a political subtext. It is, quite literally, the literature of politics, the literature through which ordinary political activity is conducted, day by day.

This talk is about reader response to journalism during an important transitional period in the history of the American newspaper. It is a study of how some readers responded to the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Herald between 1912 and 1917. The study is based on manuscript letters sent by readers to the editor of those two papers, James Keeley, and on his replies. The surviving letters are not a random sample of reader response; they cannot tell us what proportion of readers responded in what specific ways. But they can suggest to us how readers, across a wide range of differing interpretative communities, reacted to the new type of "objective" journalism being developed in the early years of the twentieth century.

November 29, 1999
Thom Gillespie (Telecom)
Telecom 251

This talk will come from my experiences teaching newMedia design over the past 10 years with students ranging from the ages of 5 to 50 living in Indiana, Alaska, California and Indonesia. It will be about reading and writing for a newMedia. I'll show projects mostly from student work but also for commercial projects which most folks are probably not familiar with. I'll also show a bit from Bad Days by the Ludtkes & the Residents which is probably the first real example of real interactive literature which will last. You can get a feel for my perspective from three recent 'cafe technos' articles found on the web at

My name is Thom

Brazil's Museum of the Person

Psst, wanna do a phrontisterion??

January 24, 2000
Donald Gray (English)

I will present some data about, and surrounding, the publication of some of Andrew Lang's fairy books, an annual series of volumes published and distributed in the United Kingdom from 1889 to 1913. Principally: data about the publication (production and advertising costs, payments to authors and illustrators, print runs, sales, etc.) preserved in the archives of Longmans, the publisher of the fairy books. Also: statistics on the demography, incomes, and occupations of the population of the UK at the end of the nineteenth century; information about the literary profession and market of the 1890s; biographical information about Lang; and some ideas (chiefly those of Peter McDonald and Simon Blake) about British literary publishing in that decade.

The question is: Do these data and ideas tell us anything about the meaning of these books? Jerome McGann would say, Yes, the physical form and publishing history of the book are part--maybe most--of its meaning. Anyone practicing any variety of cultural studies would say, Yes, the popularity of the book is evidence of themes and interests abroad in the culture. I will say, Yes, but I can derive such answers from the books themselves, pretty much innocent of all but the most rudimentary (price and sales) data about their publishing history.

So maybe a more availing question to put to the data is not about the reception, readers, themes and appeals of the books, but about the books in their market. What does the popularity of the Lang series tell us about literary publishing in the distinctly segmented market of the UK at the end of the nineteenth century? And do those answers, in their turn, take us beyond a history of the book market to answers, or even interesting questions, about the cultural meanings of books? I will use what I know about the publishing history of Lang's fairy books to make a kind of test case of how much the history of the book tells us about the book itself, and a kind of case study in the history of the book market.

February 7, 2000
Domenico Bertoloni Meli (History & Philosophy of Science)
4:30 p.m., Lilly Library Lounge

Contemporary practices of publication in scientific journals routinely involve multiple authorship. At times all the members of a laboratory or research group appear as co-authors. This is a relatively recent development with virtually no precedent in the 17th century, the time when the first scientific societies devoted to experimental philosophy were established. My work starts by exploring how authorship and teamwork operated in late 17th-century-Italy, at the time of the first experimental academy (the Cimento Academy). I shall draw examples from mathematics, anatomy, and experimental philosophy. I will then outline some 17th-century examples from other countries, arguing that the approach adopted in this paper promises to provide fresh perspectives on the history of the sciences as well as authorship.

February 21, 2000
David Zaret (Sociology)
Lilly Library Lounge

At the beginning of the 17th century, norms of secrecy and privilege sharply limited political communication in England. Yet at the century's end, democratic philosophies reserved a privileged place for public opinion in politics. In explaining this transformation, the larger study from which this paper is taken offers a new account of the origins of the democratic public sphere, that realm where rival political interests com- pete in debates that simultaneously constitute and invoke public opinion.

During the English Revolution of 1640 to 1660, technological and social innovations in communicative practices led contemporaries to acknowledge the importance of consent, open debate, and reason as the ground of opinion's authority in politics, precisely the same principles most often associated with 18th-century Enlightenment philosophy. My focus upon actual communicative practices, and particularly the recourse to printed petitions (originally a private mode of communication between subjects and their rulers but which became a public one in this period), reverses the priority that scholars have hitherto given to theoretical over practical developments in origins of democratic culture. Invoking the rationality and normative authority of public opinion in politics was not, I argue, a consequence of philosophic or theological principles. Rather, it was a practical, communicative accomplishment, largely unanticipated by its practitioners. Propelled by technological and social changes in communi- cation--its heightened commercialism and technical capacity to reproduce texts--the authority of opinion became a factor in English politics as it emerged from a reworking of extant communicative traditions. Key features of print culture--notably, its relentless commercialism, sensationalism and publicity; evasion of censorship; popular readership--created the prototype for a democratic public sphere.

This has strong implications for debates over the contemporary public sphere. In sharp contrast to pessimistic assessments by theorists and critics of postmodernism, I argue that these critiques rely on grossly unbalanced appraisals of communicative change. In claiming that reasoned debate in public life is now endangered, if not extinct, these critical assessments attribute novelty in our era to rapid growth in commercialism and the capacity to reproduce texts--the very same economic and technical aspects of printing that constituted the early public sphere. Not only does this wrongly attribute novelty to commercialism and textual repro- duction in our era, it misses their constitutive role in the origins of reasoned appeals to public opinion in politics.

March 6, 2000
Alan Boehm (Librarian for Special Collections, Middle Tennessee State University)

In this talk, I want to draw attention to the robust traditional work culture that flourished in the London printing house and that marked its activities before the advent of fully mechanized press operations in the nineteenth century. With special emphasis on the late 1600s and early 1700s, but with some reference to earlier moments in the handpress period, I consider how the day-to-day work of journeymen printers was enveloped in and punctuated by rituals, ceremonies, labor customs, and various other traditional cultural practices.

This culture is fascinating in and of itself, but those of us who focus on such matters as the construction of authorship and the expressiveness of the material text may find in these cultural practices more particular reasons to examine the customary world of the printing house, chiefly because the journeymen's traditional practices extended to the book. The graphic design and embellishment of the printed page were as a general rule the domain of the printer--a prerogative sanctioned and maintained by printing house custom. Confronting this prerogative was the author who chose to enter the press room to put a hand in the production of the text and thereby devise an expressive typographic style.

Accordingly, towards the end of my talk I want to suggest that one way of looking at the relationship between author and printer is to see it in terms of a larger encounter between the traditional culture of the printing house and the emerging needs of the author to fashion an identity in the literary marketplace. In working side-by-side with the author, the printer was positioned to absorb "literary" values--a possibility suggested by the attention printers pay to their craft's aesthetic dimensions and cultural relations in, among other places, the historical and aesthetic treatises they begin putting forward in the 1700s. In working on the shop floor with the printer, the author in turn was positioned to draw on the printer's experience and expertise, and then extend these to the typographic and expressive design of his or her own text. Thus, the printer taught the author, for it was the printer who had the more comprehensive knowledge of how the aesthetics of the printed page depend on and arise from the technical processes of printing.

Alan Boehm received an IU PhD in English in 1992 and went on to earn an MLS degree at the University of Missouri at Columbia before taking his present position at Middle Tennessee State U. He has written articles on the collaboration between the authors and the publisher of the 1798 _Lyrical Ballads_ (ELH, 1996), on publisher Joseph Cottle (ELN, 1995), and on Keats's "Eve of St. Agnes" (1988), and given talks on such figures as Edmund Curll and Jacob Tonson, and on the Poetics of 18th-Century Book- selling generally, at MLA and SHARP conferences, at Texas A & M University, and at the Houghton Library.

March 27, 2000
Joel Silver (Lilly Library)
Lilly Library Lounge

This will be an informal presentation on the relationship between the world of book collecting and the production of descriptive bibliographies and bibliographical catalogues, the basic tools of those who do research in the history of the book. Many of these bibliographies and catalogues are the results of the efforts of book collectors, antiquarian book- sellers, or "amateur" bibliographers, and have often been published for other book collectors and booksellers rather than for researchers. There is therefore a much greater relationship than many people realize between the antiquarian book market and published bibliographical works; this presentation will focus on how book collecting has influenced bibliogra- phy, as well as the effects on the book market of the publication of bibliographies and catalogues.

April 14, 2000
Janice Radway (Program in Literature, Duke University)

I would like to use this seminar to generate a discussion about the role of what is usually called "theory" in the field of book history. I will begin by reading from a theoretical and conceptual statement which I have co-written with Carl Kaestle of Brown University. Carl and I are the co-editors of volume IV in the American Antiquarian Society's ongoing project, A History of the Book In the United States. Our volume is presently entitled The Circulating Book: Books, Reading and Print Culture in the United States, 1880-1950. We originally wrote this theoretical framework for ourselves as a way to specify how we conceptualized the field of book production during our period. We found the process both so difficult and so exhilarating that we decided to share it with our potential contributors in order to show them what we were envisioning with the volume and as a way to solicit their input. The framework specifically attempts to rethink the circuit metaphor that Robert Darnton first set forth in his important article, "What is the History of the Book?" We felt that such rethinking was in order because we believed that his model inadvertently privileged certain categories that should have been subjected to historical scrutiny. I would like to discuss this framework, then, in conjunction with Darnton's essay which can be found in Cathy Davidson, ed., Reading in America (Johns Hopkins, 1989).

I will then share with the seminar some observations about how the editing process has proceeded. The framework was moderately successful in generating certain approaches to book history in our period but it didn't do all that we had wished. I will therefore discuss the subsequent process of collaboration and describe how we attempted to develop what we call "mid-level generalizations and theories" about what happened to the book in the United States during our period. These generalizations were developed from the first drafts of the essays that were produced and from a discussion of them by all the volume's contributors at a conference held at the American Antiquarian Society.