Before the invention of printing, all forms of writing were done by hand. For a literary text to circulate among readers, and to be transmitted from one period in time to another, it had to be copied by scribes. As a result, two copies of an ancient book were different from one another, and each individual book or manuscript has its own history. The oldest of these books, those that are the closest to the time in which the texts were composed, are few, usually damaged, and have been often neglected in the scholarship. Ancient Latin Poetry Books presents a detailed study of the oldest manuscripts still extant that contain texts by Latin poets, such as Virgil, Terence, and Ovid. Analyzing their physical characteristics, their script, and the historical contexts in which they were produced and used, this volume shows how manuscripts can help us gain a better understanding of the history of texts, as well as of reading habits over the centuries. Since the manuscripts originated in various places of the Latin-speaking world, Ancient Latin Poetry Books investigates the readership and reception of Latin poetry in many different contexts, such schools in the Egyptian desert, aristocratic circles in southern Italy, and the Christian élite in late antique Rome. The research also contributes to our knowledge about the use of writing and the importance of the written text in antiquity. This is an innovative approach to the study of ancient literature, one that takes the materiality of texts into consideration.
Byzantine art is normally explained as devotional, historical, highly intellectualized, but this book argues for an experiential necessity for a fuller, deeper, more ethical approach to this art. Written in response to an exhibition the author curated at The Menil Collection in 2013, this monograph challenges us to search for novel ways to explore and interrogate the art of this distant culture. They marshal diverse disciplines—modern art, environmental theory, anthropology—to argue that Byzantine culture formed a special kind of Christian animism. While completely foreign to our world, that animism still holds important lessons for approaches to our own relations to the world. Mutual probings of subject and art, of past and present, arise in these essays—some new and some previously published—and new explanations therefore open up that will interest historians of art, museum professionals, and anyone interested in how art makes and remakes the world.
Technological innovation has long threatened the printed book, but ultimately, most digital alternatives to the codex have been onscreen replications. While a range of critics have debated the benefits and dangers of this media technology, contemporary and avant-garde writers have offered more nuanced considerations.
Taking up works from Andy Warhol, Kevin Young, Don DeLillo, and Hari Kunzru, Archival Fictions considers how these writers have constructed a speculative history of media technology through formal experimentation. Although media technologies have determined the extent of what can be written, recorded, and remembered in the immediate aftermath of print's hegemony, Paul Benzon argues that literary form provides a vital means for critical engagement with the larger contours of media history. Drawing on approaches from media poetics, film studies, and the digital humanities, this interdisciplinary study demonstrates how authors who engage technology through form continue to imagine new roles for print literature across the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee, Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, Aaron Kashtan argues that paying attention to comics helps us understand the future of the book. Debates over the future of the book tend to focus on text-based literature, particularly fiction. However, because comics make the effects of materiality visible, they offer a clearer demonstration than prose fiction of how the rise of digital reading platforms transforms the reading experience. Comics help us see the effects of alterations in features such as publication design and typography, whereas in print literature, such transformations often go unnoticed.
With case studies of the work of Alison Bechdel, Matt Kindt, Lynda Barry, Carla Speed McNeil, Chris Ware, and Randall Munroe, Kashtan examines print comics that critique digital technology, comics that are remediated from print to digital and vice versa, and comics that combine print and digital functionality. Kashtan argues that comics are adapting to the rise of digital reading technologies more effectively than print literature has yet done. Therefore, looking at comics gives us a preview of what the future of the book looks like. Ultimately, Between Pen and Pixel argues that as print literature becomes more sensitive to issues of materiality and mediacy, print books will increasingly start to resemble to comic books.
An innovative collection of essays that foregrounds specific cargoes as a means to understand connectivity and mobility across the Indian Ocean world.
Scholars have long appreciated the centrality of trade and commerce in understanding the connectivity and mobility that underpin human experience in the Indian Ocean region. But studies of merchant and commercial activities have paid little attention to the role that cargoes have played in connecting the disparate parts of this vast oceanic world. Drawing from the work of anthropologists, geographers, and historians, Cargoes in Motion tells the story of how material objects have informed and continue to shape processes of exchange across the Indian Ocean.
By following selected cargoes through both space and time, this book makes an important and innovative contribution to Indian Ocean studies. The multidisciplinary approach deepens our understanding of the nature and dynamics of the Indian Ocean world by showing how transoceanic connectivity has been driven not only by economic, social, cultural, and political factors but also by the materiality of the objects themselves.
Egypt beyond Representation develops and applies a new approach to study Aegyptiaca Romana from a bottom-up, Roman perspective. Current approaches to these objects are often still plagued by top-down projections of modern definitions and understandings of Egypt and Egyptian material culture onto the Roman world. This book instead argues that these artifacts should be studied in their own right, without reducing them to fixed Egyptian meanings. This study shows that, while “Egyptianness” may have been among Roman associations, these objects were able to do much more than merely representing notions of Egypt.
Textuality is the condition in which a text is created, edited, archived, published, disseminated, and consumed. “Texts,” therefore, encompass a broad variety of artifacts: traditional printed matter such as grammar books and newspaper articles; phonographs; graphic novels; ephemera such as fashion illustrations, catalogs, and postcards; and even virtual databases and cataloging systems.\
Latin American Textualities is a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at textual history, textual artifacts, and digital textualities across Latin America from the colonial era to the present. Editors Heather J. Allen and Andrew R. Reynolds gather a wide range of scholars to investigate the region’s textual scholarship. Contributors offer engaging examples of not just artifacts but also the contexts in which the texts are used. Topics include Guamán Poma’s library, the effect of sound recordings on writing in Argentina, Sudamericana Publishing House’s contribution to the Latin American literary boom, and Argentine science fiction. Latin American Textualities provides new paths to reading Latin American history, culture, and literatures.
Heather J. Allen
Silvia Kurlat Ares
José Enrique Navarro
Andrew R. Reynolds
George Antony Thomas
Daniel Miller, ed. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress GN406.M38 2005 | Dewey Decimal 306.46
Throughout history and across social and cultural contexts, most systems of belief—whether religious or secular—have ascribed wisdom to those who see reality as that which transcends the merely material. Yet, as the studies collected here show, the immaterial is not easily separated from the material. Humans are defined, to an extraordinary degree, by their expressions of immaterial ideals through material forms. The essays in Materiality explore varied manifestations of materiality from ancient times to the present. In assessing the fundamental role of materiality in shaping humanity, they signal the need to decenter the social within social anthropology in order to make room for the material.
Considering topics as diverse as theology, technology, finance, and art, the contributors—most of whom are anthropologists—examine the many different ways in which materiality has been understood and the consequences of these differences. Their case studies show that the latest forms of financial trading instruments can be compared with the oldest ideals of ancient Egypt, that the promise of software can be compared with an age-old desire for an unmediated relationship to divinity. Whether focusing on the theology of Islamic banking, Australian Aboriginal art, derivatives trading in Japan, or textiles that respond directly to their environment, each essay adds depth and nuance to the project that Materiality advances: a profound acknowledgment and rethinking of one of the basic properties of being human.
Contributors. Matthew Engelke, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Bill Maurer, Lynn Meskell, Daniel Miller, Hirokazu Miyazaki, Fred Myers, Christopher Pinney, Michael Rowlands, Nigel Thrift
Anchorites and their texts, such as Ancrene Wisse, have recently undergone a reevaluation based on material circumstances, not just theological import. The articles here address a variety of anchoritic or anchoritic-adjacent texts, encompassing guidance literature, hagiographies, miracle narratives, medical discourse, and mystic prose, and spanning in date from the eighth through the fourteenth centuries. Exploring reclusion and materiality, the collection addresses a series of overlapping themes, including the importance of touch, the limits of religious authority, and the role of the senses. Objects, metaphorical and real, embodied and spiritual, populate the pages. These categories are permeable, with flexible and porous boundaries, demonstrating the conflation of ideas, concepts, and manifestations in medieval materiality. In fact, the permeability of these categories demonstrates how materiality can reshape our approach to medieval texts. It leaves room for directions for future study, including the application of material analysis to previously unstudied objects, spaces, and literary artifacts.
The Matter of Disability returns disability to its proper place as an ongoing historical process of corporeal, cognitive, and sensory mutation operating in a world of dynamic, even cataclysmic, change. The book’s contributors offer new theorizations of human and nonhuman embodiments and their complex evolutions in our global present, in essays that explore how disability might be imagined as participant in the “complex elaboration of difference,” rather than something gone awry in an otherwise stable process. This alternative approach to materiality sheds new light on the capacities that exist within the depictions of disability that the book examines, including Spider-Man, Of Mice and Men, and Bloodchild.
What does medieval literature look like from the point of view not of knights and ladies, but of treasure, and rings, nets and the grail? How does medieval literature imagine the agency of material things, and what exactly distinguishes human subjects from inanimate objects? Medieval Things: Agency, Materiality, and Narratives of Objects in Medieval German Literature and Beyond brings together a theoretically informed and politically engaged new materialist approach with a study of how everyday objects are understood in medieval literature. Bettina Bildhauer argues that medieval narratives can inspire current critical theory on agency and materiality. She focuses on famous and forgotten German narratives from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, including Wolfram of Eschenbach’s Parzival and the epic Song of the Nibelungs, and sets them in their global context. Many such tales can be reconceptualized as “thing biographies”—stories that follow the trajectory not of a human hero but of a coin, a gown, a treasure, or a ring. Many also use nets and networks to conceptualize dangerous structures of knowledge. Shine, glamour, and charisma emerge as particularly powerful ways in which material things exert a kind of agency that is neither pseudo-human nor fetishistic. In analyzing details like these from medieval literature, Bildhauer thus contributes in new ways to current theory on agency and materiality.
This book examines the entwined and simultaneous rise of graphic satire and cultures of paper money in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain. Asking how Britons learned to value both graphic art and money, the book makes surprising connections between two types of engraved images that grew in popularity and influence during this time. Graphic satire grew in visual risk-taking, while paper money became a more standard carrier of financial value, courting controversy as a medium, moral problem, and factor in inflation. Through analysis of satirical prints, as well as case studies of monetary satires beyond London, this book demonstrates several key ways that cultures attach value to printed paper, accepting it as social reality and institutional fact. Thus, satirical banknotes were objects that broke down the distinction between paper money and graphic satire altogether.
Contemporary China is seen as a place of widespread commodification and consumerism, while the preceeding Maoist Cultural Revolution is typically understood as a time when goods were scarce and the state criticized what little consumption was possible. Indeed, with the exception of the likeness and words of Mao Zedong, both the media and material culture of the Cultural Revolution are often characterized as a void out of which the postsocialist world of commodity consumption miraculously sprang fully formed. In Newborn Socialist Things, Laurence Coderre explores the material culture of the Cultural Revolution to show how it paved the way for commodification in contemporary China. Examining objects ranging from retail counters and porcelain statuettes to textbooks and vanity mirrors, she shows how the project of building socialism in China has always been intimately bound up with consumption. By focusing on these objects—or “newborn socialist things”—along with the Cultural Revolution’s media environment, discourses of materiality, and political economy, Coderre reconfigures understandings of the origins of present-day China.
A volume considering questions of conservation that arise with new artistic mediums and practices.
Much of the artwork that rose to prominence in the second half of the twentieth century took on novel forms—such as installation, performance, event, video, film, earthwork, and intermedia works with interactive and networked components—that pose a new set of questions about what art actually is, both physically and conceptually. For conservators, this raises an existential challenge when considering what elements of these artworks can and should be preserved.
This provocative volume revisits the traditional notions of conservation and museum collecting that developed over the centuries to suit a conception of art as static, fixed, and permanent objects. Conservators and museums increasingly struggle with issues of conservation for works created from the mid-twentieth to the twenty-first century that are unstable over time. The contributors ask what it means to conserve artworks that fundamentally address and embody the notion of change and, through this questioning, guide us to reevaluate the meaning of art, of objects, and of materiality itself. Object—Event—Performance considers a selection of post-1960s artworks that have all been chosen for their instability, changeability, performance elements, and processes that pose questions about their relationship to conservation practices. This volume will be a welcome resource on contemporary conservation for art historians, scholars of dance and theater studies, curators, and conservators.
Our corporeality and immersion in the material world make us inherently spatial beings, and the fact that we all share everyday experiences in the global physical environment means that community is also spatial by nature. This book explores the relationship between the seventeenth-century townspeople of Turku, Sweden, and their urban surroundings. Riitta Laitinen offers a novel account of civil and social order in this early modern town, highlighting the central importance of materiality and spatiality and breaking down the dichotomy of public versus private life that has dominated traditional studies of the time period.
Presenting new scholarship, this publication is an innovative technical study of the Concrete art movement in Latin America.
Purity Is a Myth presents new scholarship on Concrete art in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay from the 1940s to the 1960s. Originally coined by the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg in 1930, the term concrete denotes abstract painting with no reference to external reality. Van Doesburg argued that there was nothing more real than a line, color, or plane. Artists such as Willys de Castro, Lygia Clark, Waldemar Cordeiro, Hermelindo Fiaminghi, Judith Lauand, Raúl Lozza, Tomás Maldonado, Hélio Oiticica, and Rhod Rothfuss would reinvent this concept in postwar Latin America.
Drawing on research conducted by Getty and international partners, the essays in this volume address a variety of topics, including the general history, emergence, and reception of Concrete art; processes and color; scientific analysis of works; illustrated chronologies of the paint industry in Brazil and Argentina; and Concrete design on paper. An innovative technical study of the Concrete art movement in Latin America, this volume will be indispensable to scholars, practitioners, and students of Latin American art.
Theater’s materiality and reliance on human actors has traditionally put it at odds with modernist principles of aesthetic autonomy and depersonalization. Spectral Characters argues that modern dramatists in fact emphasized the extent to which humans are fictional, made and changed by costumes, settings, props, and spoken dialogue. Examining work by Ibsen, Wilde, Strindberg, Genet, Kopit, and Beckett, the book takes up the apparent deadness of characters whose selves are made of other people, whose thoughts become exteriorized communication technologies, and whose bodies merge with walls and furniture. The ghostly, vampiric, and telepathic qualities of these characters, Sarah Balkin argues, mark a new relationship between the material and the imaginary in modern theater. By considering characters whose bodies respond to language, whose attempts to realize their individuality collapse into inanimacy, and who sometimes don’t appear at all, the book posits a new genealogy of modernist drama that emphasizes its continuities with nineteenth-century melodrama and realism.
What is the place of materiality—the expression or condition of physical substance—in our visual age of rapidly changing materials and media? How is it fashioned in the arts or manifested in virtual forms? In Surface, cultural critic and theorist Giuliana Bruno deftly explores these questions, seeking to understand materiality in the contemporary world.
Arguing that materiality is not a question of the materials themselves but rather the substance of material relations, Bruno investigates the space of those relations, examining how they appear on the surface of different media—on film and video screens, in gallery installations, or on the skins of buildings and people. The object of visual studies, she contends, goes well beyond the image and engages the surface as a place of contact between people and art objects. As Bruno threads through these surface encounters, she unveils the fabrics of the visual—the textural qualities of works of art, whether manifested on canvas, wall, or screen. Illuminating the modern surface condition, she notes how façades are becoming virtual screens and the art of projection is reinvented on gallery walls. She traverses the light spaces of artists Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Tacita Dean, and Anthony McCall; touches on the textured surfaces of Isaac Julien’s and Wong Kar-wai’s filmic screens; and travels across the surface materiality in the architectural practices of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Herzog & de Meuron to the art of Doris Salcedo and Rachel Whiteread, where the surface tension of media becomes concrete. In performing these critical operations on the surface, she articulates it as a site in which different forms of mediation, memory, and transformation can take place.
Surveying object relations across art, architecture, fashion, design, film, and new media, Surface is a magisterial account of contemporary visual culture.
This book argues that serious study of theme parks and their adult fans has much to tell us about contemporary transmediality and convergence, themed and immersive spaces, and audience relationships with places of meaning. Considering the duopoly of Disney and Universal in Orlando, the book explores a range of theme park experiences including planning trips, meeting characters, eating and drinking, engaging in practices such as cosplay and re-enactment, and memorializing lost attractions. Highlighting key themes such as immersion, materiality, cultural distinctions, and self-identity, the book argues that theme parks are a crucial site for the exploration of transmediality and the development of paratexts. Proposing the key concepts of spatial transmedia and haptic fandom, the book offers analysis of the intersections between fandom, media texts, and merchandise, as well as fans' own affective and physical responses to visiting the parks.
From the Arctic to the South China Sea, states are vying to secure sovereign rights over vast maritime stretches, undersea continental plates, shifting ice flows, airspace, and the subsoil. Conceiving of sovereign space as volume rather than area, the contributors to Voluminous States explore how such a conception reveals and underscores the three-dimensional nature of modern territorial governance. In case studies ranging from the United States, Europe, and the Himalayas to Hong Kong, Korea, and Bangladesh, the contributors outline how states are using airspace surveillance, maritime patrols, and subterranean monitoring to gain and exercise sovereignty over three-dimensional space. Whether examining how militaries are digging tunnels to create new theaters of operations, the impacts of climate change on borders, or the relation between borders and nonhuman ecologies, they demonstrate that a three-dimensional approach to studying borders is imperative for gaining a fuller understanding of sovereignty.
Contributors. Debbora Battaglia, Franck Billé, Wayne Chambliss, Jason Cons, Hilary Cunningham (Scharper), Klaus Dodds, Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Gastón Gordillo, Sarah Green, Tina Harris, Caroline Humphrey, Marcel LaFlamme, Lisa Sang Mi Min, Aihwa Ong, Clancy Wilmott, Jerry Zee