The Books That Make Us
In this seminar, we will examine the life-stories of select monuments of writing, such as Sumerian clay tablets, the original (Hokusai) manga, the Gutenberg Bible (the first major book printed with the printing press) and Carl Jung's notebooks. We will consider their material life, the technologies necessary to produce them, and the meanings that they had for their contemporaries. How did people make these seminal works, and why? How do such important works help us make sense of our world? In what sense do these works represent revolutionary text technologies and how have they revolutionized the world of ideas? We will also think about writing itself as a technology that encompasses letters, drawings, graffiti, and illustrations; and learn how texts can be hand-written, painted, or inscribed, as well as mechanically and digitally produced. We will explore a wider context for circulation of books, texts, and reading. In order to view, handle and examine actual specimens, we will visit a rare books library in the area or New York City, and use the collections of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers.