Login Register

Current Issue Article Abstracts

June 2018  Vol. 71.1

• • • • • • • •


Neither History nor Book

Seth Kimmel

A central paradox of the history of the book is that it is neither simply a subfield of history nor concerned only with books. To study the history of the book is to examine the codex as one among myriad textual technologies. The “book” is in this sense a placeholder for a broader concern with the materiality of text and reading. “History” too is a placeholder. At stake in contemporary accounts of the book and its history is a vision of how and what to read in the present and the future. These questions moreover occupy literary critics, anthropologists, economists, politicians, media studies scholars, and bookish students and teachers at all levels, in addition to professional historians. Its name notwithstanding, the history of the book is interdisciplinary and forward-looking. In its most robust conceptualization, it is a debate about the humanities themselves.



Sampling and Remixing in Recent Latin American Narrative

J. Andrew Brown

This article examines the ways in which the theoretical concepts of remixing and sampling help us understand innovations in contemporary Latin American narrative and film. Using the Cuban film Juan de los muertos by Alejandro Brugués, Norte by the Bolivian novelist Edmundo Paz Soldán, El púgil by the Chilean/Argentine/American Mike Wilson, and short stories by the Chilean writer Álvaro Bisama, I analyze modes of cultural appropriation arguing that they are best understood within the broader artistic context of the remix and the sample. In dialogue with theoretical interventions by Lev Manovich, Eduardo Navas, Henry Jenkins, David Laderman and Laurel Westrup, I chart the ways in which contemporary narrative incorporates and highlights artistic and cultural strategies more commonly understood within the realms of music and digital art even as they repeat and expand the more traditionally literary concepts of collage and intertextuality. I argue specifically that in each text we see how the writers especially use pop culture reference as a narrative building block, incorporating hidden beats and repetitions that are best appreciated as one would a hip hop song constructed of musical samples. I further use this phenomenon to consider the ways in which print narrative uses these strategies to resist relegation to the past as it faces the rise of digital culture.


Las instrucciones y las cosas

Irina Podgorny

This paper describes the system of production and circulation of knowledge linked to bureaucracy and the Atlantic trade in the context of the Hispanic Monarchy. In order to consider these topics, this article examines the role of secretaries and the instructions for the collection of samples from the natural world written before and after the process of Independence. In particular, it will discuss those related to the provision of the Royal Cabinet of Madrid (1776), which illustrate how the history of natural history practices articulates the history of the sovereign’s political curiosity (to know and control “everything”) and the interests of those individuals who appeal to this curiosity to combine the promise of new knowledge with the opportunity to promote their own projects. The history of these instructions also illuminates how the interests and expectations of those individuals are shaped by the practices in which they are immersed and how the instructions become independent of their “author” and continue to impact other institutions and subjectivities

The Materiality of Medieval Parchment: A Response to “The Animal Turn”

Nancy K. Turner

A new reading of medieval manuscript is being forged by scholars of medieval literature interested in texts that reference and image the animal body. As part of a “post-humanist” project, the parchment book has been interrogated specifically for its place at the intersection of the animal and material “turns.” Medievalists who address questions of animal life and the “parchment ethics” of medieval manuscripts engage primarily with deconstructionist and post-humanist theory and interpretive methodologies of materialist “surface reading.” Yet the literature of the past fifty years on the scientific analysis of parchment and leather manufacture, the conservation treatment and assessment of historical parchment, medieval animal husbandry, and zooarcheology have had little bearing upon these discussions. This essay provides a critique of the “animal turn” as it has addressed the parchment book, by challenging the presumed epistemological identification between the skin of the medieval reader, the animal subject, and the parchment page. A medieval understanding of parchment through texts on pastoral care and allegories of parchment, historical evidence for the animal husbandry of domesticated animals, and nuances in parchment-making based on the investigations of conservators are discussed. And a case study is presented highlighting the Major Laws of Vidal de Canellas, Bishop of Huesca (1237–52), a manuscript in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum containing the Major Laws of the Kingdom of Aragon and dating to c. 1290–1310, after the unification of lands under Jaume I the Conquerer (1213–76), when Merino wool sheep cultivation flourished across the Iberian Peninsula. 


Donald McKenzie: historiador del libro y filólogo

Bénédicte Vauthier

This contribution will show, firstly, how at the time when the French translation of Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts was published, the famous historian of the book, Roger Chartier, emphasized two contributions by the New Zealander (his interest in the materiality of text production and transmission, on the one hand, and his care about the social dimension of the text, on the other) that are in line with his own vision of the History of the book, the History of reading and editing. This led to an undermining of the dialogue that McKenzie had maintained with Greg-Bowers’s bibliographic academy. In countries of Roman language, McKenzies work has been read through this mediation lecture. Secondly, we shall return to this strictly philological dimension of McKenzies work and retrieve his interest in questions of authorial intention and textual authority and his reflection on textual instability. This second aspect will enable us to understand why that book became a reference at the same time for the “new” New Bibliographers as well as for the representatives of New Textualism. To conclude, it is suggested that the current bibliographic orientation of scholarly editing may allow to do justice to McKenzies double legacy for the history of the book and the theory of editing.


Lossyness: Material Loss in the Cloud or Digital Ekphrasis

Zac Zimmer

We take the fidelity of digital reproduction as a given. Yet the limits of bandwidth, storage capacity, and human perception all conspire to encourage data compression. As digital data moves from one file format to another—as it is compressed and transferred over a network—data is lost, both intentionally and through error. A critical inquiry into this phenomenon, known as lossyness, will force a reconsideration of human perception and network priorities in our digital moment. Lossyness, of course, occurs on the level of the data itself, but we can also expand our idea of lossyness to include changes in software and hardware that render the viewer's experience of certain old "new media" artifacts–a book, for instance–degraded or even impossible. This article poses the question of data compression in order to theorize a digital ekphrasis: the digital representation of analog representation. The concept of digital ekphrasis applied to the book object will reveal the materiality and corporality of transcoding in the literary realm, and allow a detailed consideration of two key critical questions: how is an analog object's fullness represented in the new digital medium? And: what is lost in such medium shifts?



Leer y oír leer: ensayos sobre la lectura en los siglos de oro. Iberoamericana, 2016, 232 pp. by  Antonio Castillo Gómez(review) Reviewed by Carlos Alberto González Sánchez

Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (review) Reviewed by Grant Wythoff

The Untold Story of the Talking Book by Matthew Rubery (review) Reviewed by Alejandra Bronfman

Taxonomies of Knowledge: Information and Order in Medieval Manuscripts ed. by Emily Steiner, Lynn Ransom (review) Reviewed by Simone Pinet