The Book and the Disciplines: Histories of the Book


This seminar is an inquiry into the close relations among the history of the book, the history of reading and the discussion about the disciplines. This is not to say that there is a chain of causality among these three disparate elements. Rather, they are part of an entwined series of discussions surrounding material, intellectual, and cognitive questions that set in motion changes in the technologies of the book, in the practices of reading, and in the ways disciplines are devised within and without the academic world.

Books transmit content –but not only. Furthermore, they have always been epistemological devices –that is, artifacts that suggest ways to know things (skills, disciplines, etc.). They have always constituted material concepts with which to respond to complex questions about cognition, study, dissemination of knowledge, interaction, dialogue, debate, indexing, order, search and research –at local and global levels, among many different graphic and alphabetic traditions. Book is a very large denomination that includes many different techniques ranging from unique handwritten objects to manually, mechanically, or digitally reproduced  ones.The history of the book encompasses the study of the radical variety of researches devised to achieve material ways to produce and disseminate knowledge that are not only verbal, but also multimedia: the history of the book is, as well, the history of the combination and interplay, on the same portable and archivable object, of text, images, music, pieces of machinery (vovelles), or even the sacred, the talismanic, and the totemic.

Last Updated 2 years ago


This seminar is cross-listed with the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.


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