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This paper deals with the shift in classical times from oral to written communication that was so brilliantly illuminated during the middle of the twentieth century by Eric Havelock, Walter Ong, and others. The argument is that some 2500 years before Ong and his contemporaries worried the difference between orality and literacy, the difference was a topic of concern and a subject of critique among Athenian authors themselves. It was on these grounds that Thucydides distinguished his densely written history from that of Herodotus and other predecessors, whose accounts were composed for public hearing. Plato's writings in turn focus on the politics of public speech and dialogue in an "age of anxiety" that was exploited by such accomplished and unprincipled orators as the Sophists, Protagoras and Gorgias, as well as by performers in other oral genres--for example, by "rhapsodes" who recited excerpts from Homer. In this culture, rhetoric and persuasion trump reason and principle. Moral character is depicted as an effect rather than the cause of dramatic or rhetorical speech. The enervating result of these developments on Athenian society is to be seen in Plato's written representations of Socratic conversations. The dialogues offer themselves as critiques of the oral performances they represent. They show how Socrates' reliance on his famous interlocutory method is inevitably self-defeating. And they give Socrates a second chance, a second life, in a new world of writing.
HARRY BERGER, JR., is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Art History at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he was a founding faculty member of that experimental institution from 1965 on, after a nine-year stint at Yale. He is the author of nine books, including: SECOND WORLD AND GREEN WORLD: STUDIES IN RENAISSANCE FICTION-MAKING (1988); REVISIONARY PLAY: STUDIES IN THE SPENSERIAN DYNAMICS (1988); IMAGINARY AUDITION: SHAKESPEARE ON STAGE AND PAGE (1989); FICTIONS OF THE POSE: REMBRANDT AGAINST THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE (1999); and STUDIES IN INTERPRETATIVE DIACHRONICS: TEXTS, BODIES, AND CULTURAL REPRESENTATIONS (2001). While he is on campus, Professor Berger will also be delivering public lectures on Rembrandt (sponsored by the Renaissance Studies Program) and on Othello (sponsored by the English Department).
This presentation will explore the history and politics of the technologies that make the modern book industry go, those technologies that have helped transform a relatively genteel cottage industry into the massive enterprise it has become today. I examine how consolidation in the arena of book production has been paralleled by important developments in the more obscure sphere of book distribution. These include intensive and scrupulous sorting, coding, and inventory control schemes and their union with computer/database technologies, without which the mass production of printed books, large-scale retail bookselling, and indeed the book industry as such would have been unthinkable and unpracticable.
More specifically, I chart three mutually reinforcing developments in 20th-century U.S. book distribution. First, how, in the 20s and 30s, the Great Depression helped compel the U.S. book industry better to understand and ameliorate perceived gaps between book production and consumption, by seeking out the technical means to coordinate operations across the industry as a whole. Second, how economic crisis helped fuel the emergence of International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN) and machine readable barcode technologies in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Finally, I trace the relationship of living labor, the economic foundation of capitalist accumulation, and the book industry's frenzied drive to "technologize" in the final quarter of the 20th century; for this last I turn to bookseller Amazon.com as a case study.
This paper complements the more hopeful histories of mass culture's democratizing potential, which tend to focus on how the proliferation and consumption of printed books, along with a host of other mass cultural goods, helped to open paths for U.S. middle-class social advancement in the 20th century. The parallel history of book distribution, I argue, suggests how middle-class social mobility was (and continues to be) directly dependent upon both an expansion and an intensification of low-wage labor.
TED STRIPHAS is Assistant Professor in Indiana's Department of Communication and Culture, having come to IU just this fall after teaching for two years at Ohio University. He served as Managing Editor of the journal Cultural Studies from 1996-2001, while in graduate school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and has published articles in that journal and a good number of others, including Critical Studies in Media Communication, Television and New Media, and Social Epistemology. He is scheduled to present a paper on Tuesday, October 19, "Disowning Commodities: Electronic Books, Capitalism, and Intellectual Property Law" in IU's Folklore and Ethnomusicology Seminar.
My presentation will discuss the relationship between the history of reading and the emergence of the notion of the private self, and of privacy as a personal right. I would like to suggest that with the religious, political, and technological changes of seventeenth-century England, the printed book became the site for authors' and readers' negotiations between public and private life. The printing press simultaneously encouraged public revelation even as it created opportunities for solitary contact with the text. It advanced the creation of a public sphere and created a cult of celebrity even as it modeled readers who escaped that sphere, opting instead for personal autonomy, secrecy, and self-concealment. Using examples from the pamphlet literature of the seventeenth century, I shall look at the varieties of the uses of print in this unsettled period. Authors used the printing press to secure religious conversions, to challenge (sometimes covertly, sometimes not) the official religious and political order, to unveil the secret political dealings of a king, to expose the sexual escapades of a mid-century female reader. I hope to engage the audience in a discussion of the ways in which the concerns of our seventeenth-century forebears remain our own.
CECILE JAGODZINSKI is Director of Collection Development & Digital Scholarship at the Indiana University Libraries. Prior to her arrival here at Indiana, she served in various capacities in the library at Illinois State University, the Northwestern University Law Library, the American Medical Association Library, and at Quincy College. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her dissertation (later to become a University of Virginia Press book, ) forms the basis of the issues under discussion in the seminar session. She is currently at work on two projects: essays on two Booker Prize winning novels and an edited volume on the history of North American university presses for Bruccoli Clark Layman.
Stuart Bennett will discuss the complex and controversial subject of trade bookbinding in the British Isles between the Restoration and the beginning of the nineteenth century. He takes issue with the widely-accepted view, expressed by major bibliographer of the past generation, Michael Sadleir (1888-1957), that "the bookseller-publisher of the decades from 1730 to 1770 issued his books either in loose quires, or stitched, or at most in a plain paper wrapper." Bennett demonstrates from both documentary and visual evidence that during this period books were in fact predominantly sold ready-bound in sheep, calf, and goat, as well as paper boards and wrappers.
STUART BENNETT began his career in 1974 as a cataloguer at Sotheby's New York. In 1976 he became head of book and photograph sales at Christie's South Kensington, London, and in the next few years visited dozens of country house libraries and catalogued thousands of antiquarian books. Since starting his own business in 1980, he has specialized in English books printed before 1850. He is the author of TRADE BOOKBINDING IN THE BRITISH ISLES, 1660-1800, published this year by The British Library and Oak Knoll Press. His previous publications include the Christie's Collector's Guide HOW TO BUY PHOTOGRAPHS (1987), contributions to the Antiquarian Book Monthly Review (of which he was associate editor from 1978-1989), and articles in The Library, The Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts, and other periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the Renaissance hardly anyone made a living through writing. The practical world in which Montaigne and his peers wrote suggests that works like the Essays, for all the status they enjoy today as classics, neither originated in detached pursuits nor flourished as self-contained activities. But, to what lengths was Montaigne willing to go in order to publish? Manager, magistrate, diplomat and mayor, Montaigne enjoyed few uninterrupted hours. Yet, he was often his most ingenious when responding to pressures of the everyday world: attempting to work in his busy country study, dictating to a personal secretary, and arranging a publishing contract nudged him towards some of the most important breakthroughs he made as an author. Following Montaigne from his wine presses to the printing press reveals that publishing demanded he perform professional tasks such as financing, proofreading, and revising to please his editor, and that, rather than an alternative to a political career, writing may have played an integral role in his political ambitions. The History of the Book has long been engaged in the gathering of statistical information on publishing practices and readers' (and book-buying) habits; time has come to see at least one tree in the forest by using printing history to provide fresh insight into a particular literary work. Through the individual case of Montaigne, one can better understand the interplay between generalities such as "the market" and the creative struggles specific to actual writers' experience.
GEORGE HOFFMANN is Associate Professor in the Romance Languages Department of the University of Michigan. His book MONTAIGNE'S CAREER (Oxford U. Press, 1998) won the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies. Also author of a dozen articles on Montaigne, he is a past winner of an NEH Fellowship and is this year holding a fellowship from the Institute of the Humanities at the University of Michigan, where he is writing a new biography of Montaigne, commissioned by the University of Cambridge Press. While here on campus, he will also be delivering a public lecture, sponsored by the French and Italian Department, CALCULATED SINCERITY: WHAT MONTAIGNE LEARNED FROM ACTING IN SCHOOL PLAYS.
The importance of Christian monasticism for the history of the book in Western Europe cannot be overestimated. Monks not only copied and collected manuscripts, but they invented new literary genres and ways of using books, especially the Bible. Evagrius Ponticus, who died in 399 in the Egyptian desert, was Late Antiquity's outstanding theorist of the monastic life. Among his works is Antirrheticus or Talking Back, a manual designed for the monk engaged in combat with demons and their evil thoughts. Talking Back functioned in some ways like a magician's spell manual, and it contributed to new ways of using the Bible in monastic communities. This presentation will introduce Evagrius and Talking Back, and it will explore the work's place in the history of the book and what it reveals about monastic life.
DAVID BRAKKE is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington and Director of Graduate Studies for that Department. His PhD is from Yale (1992) and he has been awarded von Humboldt, NEH, and ACLS fellowships and was in 1996 a recipient of an IU Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. He is author of ATHENASIUS AND ASCETICISM (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1998; originally published as ATHENASIUS AND THE POLITICS OF ASCETICISM by Oxford U. Press ), editor and translator of PSEUDO-ATHENASIUS ON VIRGINITY, 2 vols. in the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium series (Louvain, 2002), and is co-editor of READING IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES: ESSAYS ON INTERPRETATION IN THE EARLY CHURCH (U. of Notre Dame Press, 2002).
Sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and supported in part by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.