reflections

One last reflection post. Before the close of term, I wanted to write a few thoughts about how my essay evolved, since I did not write an ideas post a few weeks back.

Originally, I was interested in studying early printing pioneers, particularly women. Although the topic is not necessarily closely connected to the future/present existence of the book, I found it to be a woefully under-researched area of study, and thus a contemporary concern. In particular, I thought I would investigate Emily Faithfull, who founded an all-women press in Scotland in the 19th century, and later went on to print for Queen Victoria. I did not know her story, among others (including early renaissance nuns in Florence!) until I read Johanna Drucker’s essay “Intimate Authority: Women, Books, and the Public-Private Paradox” in The Book as Art: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The research on the topics of early presswomen and women involved in book production is somewhat disappointingly scarce. I realized that it would be a project which required more time and thus would be better suited to a long-term plan in which I could dedicate the investigation time it deserves. Especially because the archive of Emily Faithfull is in London, at LSE…so perhaps a trip is in order!

Returning to the eventual path which I decided to take with my paper: evolved out of reading the essay referred to above, written by Professor Drucker, and into the topic of artists’ books! I was very interested in how artists’ books evolved, why, and where they are today, both physically and conceptually. I was also inspired by Professor Ducker’s 2010 interview with the University of Oregon about artists’ books (I came across this latter resource thanks to Professor Greta Golick, in my workshop class this term, De/constructing books. We had the amazing opportunity to spend time with a beautiful selection of pieces from the Fisher library’s diverse collection of artists’ books!). On a complete side note, I wholeheartedly suggest watching any of the easily available videos on YouTube which feature Professor Drucker giving talks or interviews – she is such an engaging speaker! Her passion and joy is palpable. Check out the one below.


Final Thoughts

Just thought I’d add one last post before submitting my log.

I’m just reflecting on the paper-writing process, and I find it interesting how ideas evolve and change, even as you get into writing.  My topic started out tracing the history of literary piracy, but I soon discovered that the history of that is so vast and complex (I’m talking master’s thesis vast and complex!), and the whole time I was thinking more about how our issue’s with piracy in the more recent past and present show such clear connections to that history.  So, I made the decision to switch gears, mid-writing, and am now going to focus on those links and how we see the past reflected in our present when it comes to dealing with issues of literary piracy.  I think this will be a more effective paper and allow me to work my own voice into it more.  Here’s hoping it pays off!

To everyone in this blog group – I hope you’re all hanging in there! We’re on the home stretch, and there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

To my fellow 2nd years – We made it! Congrats to all of you who are moving on from this, hopefully all better for the experiences we’ve had!

Cheers!

-Kristie


finding balance in the future of the book

hello fellow bloggers!

This is a brief post, but I came across a video about “the future of the book” some time ago, and thought it would be worth sharing. Here, Alessandro Ludovico, editor-in-chief of Neural magazine (a publication which explores “new media arts, electronic music, and hacktivism” – http://neural.it/) is asked about the future of books and libraries. His response weaves together topics related to space, ownership, the life of information, the value of both print and digital projects, and their future possibilities. While he comes from a very specific perspective, I find his thoughtful words strike the right balance between critical and optimistic.

Indirectly, he bridges many of the ideas which we discussed this term, especially the motivation to move away from a “print versus digital” relationship concept, and towards the understanding that print and digital media really have the potential to strengthen one another, and each bring unique abilities to the informational, cultural, and technological future. In particular, his attention to the value of space in the library environment was particularly compelling – not merely a repository for information, but a place and a space in which information comes to life.

Happy thoughts!


Make Notes!

If I could go back in time and give advice on the future of the book and reading, I would tell people to make notes. Doodle, write their names in books, keep diaries. 

As someone with a history background I can’t stress enough the importance of leaving these pieces of the past for others to find.  With the development of social history and history from below over the past few decades, insight into people’s every day lives has become more and more important.  It also makes stronger cases for preserving this type of recorded material.

Marginalia can teach us how people read and understood their books.  Diaries act as a window into how regular people lived and notes of ownerships allow us to re-create libraries and track how people collected and used their books. 

So really, my advice is a selfish one.  I want to have these tidbits of knowledge because I feel like it enriches my own understanding of the past.


Illuminated Manuscript v. Children’s Books

Books aren’t just for adults anymore. Children’s books not only have a huge market in the publishing industry, but also they play a vital role to childhood. I would love to go back in time, such as when the Illuminated Manuscript was at-large, and explain to the cloistered, secretive Monks the importance of Children’s Books. Now there are many other significant changes since the Illuminated Manuscript that has changed the way we view books. For example, the printing press wasn’t even available during this time, so there is also that huge cultural shift. Illuminated Manuscripts were only for the absolute richest individuals, some were still illiterate but saw the value of owning a book.

The very contents in a book were significantly different than now, with many of the Illuminated Manuscripts having religious affiliations. I think to explain to these Monks how their beautiful, expensive, time consuming Illuminated Manuscripts will eventually turn into paper-back Children’s Books that will be drawn in, drooled over, nibbled on, dropped into puddles, etc., will be shocking. The fact that books are made for children; that children are literate. There are so many differences between the content and use of the books. Children’s books are not revered in the same sense an Illuminated Manuscript would have been.

I’m interested to see how these Monks would react to our Children’s Books (even just to study their facial reactions). Would they see resemblances and accept them? Or would they reject the very notion that books are common—exalting childhood? Will they seem room for improvement that we never dreamed of doing?

The huge shift between book use, book content, and social notions often makes me wonder what future societies/cultures/individuals will think about our weird and wacky ways that we view to be so genius and intellectual. How primitive and unintelligent will we seem to the future?


Embrace change

I would like to go back to the pre-ebook and pre-iPad days and tell fans of physical books, that they need not feel threatened by changes to what is known as the book.  There seemed to be, and can sometimes be felt even now, a bit of a backlash towards ebooks.  I think some people feel threatened that if ebooks become more and more popular, the printed, physical book will become a thing of the past.

I don’t think that is the case.

Sure, the creation, distribution, and consumption of texts might change, but there will always be publishers who will remain printing traditional books.  As long as there is a demand for them, they will be continue to be made.  If we can compare this to the production of vinyl records.  Of course, the amount of records produced is nowhere near what it used to be, but one can still get vinyl records for even the newest of albums.

So overall, I would say to embrace the future of the books, the changes, and benefits they offer.  And if you don’t like them, that’s okay too.


Eat the Rich!

I have a bunch of swirling, not-quite-coherent thoughts this morning about reading and the history and future of the book. So I think I’m going to cheat with this blog post and stray a bit from Professor Galey’s initial premise.

I keep going back to the adage The pen is mightier than the sword! and considering the ways in which it’s true. As we know from history, the written word has in various ways throughout history has been suppressed, e.g., denying certain socioeconomic class the right to literacy, making illegal certain types of writing/literature, or banning books for reasons of “moral panic” (h/t Bobby Glushko).

For dictatorial powers that be, an educated citizenry can be their biggest threat. Knowledge is power, and all those related truisms.

I feel privileged that for the most part, I can read whatever I like*. I’ve never experiences a book banning, and my foremothers earned me my political rights of equal personhood as a woman to read and learn with the best of ’em. (http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=297)

So with this is mind, I think I would want to go back in time and arm the suppressed classes with the power of reading and teach them that the future of books is concordant with the future of power. I think I would gather a team of like-minded friends and deploy me and them throughout important times in history to arm the underclasses with the power of books, reading, and knowledge. Some groups that come to mind are women, the black slave classes, Native Americans, Australian Aboriginals, English people working in the Industrial Revolution, and on and on before and after.

The aim is, then, to help raise the social status/capital of oppressed groups and to better enable them to fight against the learned oppressors through the printed word.

With all due respect to Back to the Future, I would hope to “pollute” the timeline. 🙂

 

 

*One of my roommates is going through the process of appealing an ATIP denial, and it’s infuriating to see how much our own government would prefer we didn’t know.