the myth of print culture

Dane, Joseph A. The Myth of Print Culture: Essays on Evidence, Textuality, and Bibliographical Method. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Thanks to Ian for the recommendation. A lengthy blockquote is below the fold.

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“studied for action”

Jardine, Lisa and Anthony Grafton. “‘Studied for Action’: How Gabriel Harvey Read His Livy.” Past and Present: 129 (Nov. 1990): 30-78. Available through JSTOR (subscription required):

This essay forms part of a larger, book-length project, which is intended to contribute to the historical understanding of the ways in which humanistically trained readers assimilated and responded to the classical heritage. But it seeks to go beyond the traditional, textual definition of this field to reconstruct the social, professional and personal contexts in which reading took place. Although the present study deals with a topic historians tend to label as “high culture,” it will be clear that we also intend it to be in dialogue with a body of recent publications on the history of reading and of the book. That work, although by no means homogeneous, broadly concerns itself with the production and circulation of printed texts, and with setting the activity of reading in its historical and cultural contexts, as well as with some of the social implications that result from a particular locating of reading in history.

Many thanks to Ian for the recommendation.

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adaptation of conditions

D. F. McKenzie. “Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices.Studies in Bibliography 22 (1969).

…if I were to give this paper an epigraph, it might well be that quoted by Sir Karl Popper from Black’s Lectures on the Elements of Chemistry published in 1803: ‘A nice adaptation of conditions will make almost any hypothesis agree with the phenomena. This will please the imagination, but does not advance our knowledge.’ Our ignorance about printing-house conditions in the 17th and 18th centuries has left us disastrously free to devise them according to need; and we have at times compounded our errors by giving a spurious air of ‘scientific’ definitiveness to our conclusions.

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from “try these funny hoaxes”

By Andy Borowitz in the May 16, 2005 issue of the New Yorker:

Get a bunch of your friends together, ring O.J. Simpson’s doorbell, and tell him that you are “the real killers” and that you are surrendering to him so that he can finally stop searching for you. Get his reaction on videotape and sell it over the Internet.

Convince the leaders of the world’s only superpower that a Middle Eastern nation is loaded to the gills with weapons of mass destruction. Tell them that some broken-down old vans there are “mobile weapons labs,” and persuade them to spend billions of dollars on an invasion and an occupation. After they scour the country for the weapons and come up empty, shrug your shoulders sympathetically and take over the oil ministry.

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bibliographic ego

Loewenstein, Joseph. “The Script in the Marketplace.” Representations 12 (Autumn 1985): 101-114. (Subscription required.)

The list of Ben Jonson’s permanent contributions to English literary convention…has regularly included that major contribution to the development of literary marketing, the publication of the folio Workes of Benjamin Jonson. The volume appeared in 1616, well before it could be decently represented as posthumous. This publication has frequently been remarked on, but such remark has almost inevitably subsided into reflections on Jonson’s vanity; in these more sympathetic times, we incline to speak of the charm of his vanity. I should like to treat the event a bit more technically and insist that critical responses to Jonson’s authorial vanity are in fact quite telling; that we make such remarks is offhanded testimony to the permanent effects of this particular publication, indirect evidence that the 1616 Workes marks a major event in the history of what one might call the bibliographic ego. (101)

Thanks to Laurie for the reference.

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