Cultures of the Book:
From Papyrus to Cyberspace
is a human-made artifact, a bearer of cultural significance. This
seminar will explore the histories of the written word in (mainly) western
cultures, from Plato to the present. The challenge posed to traditional
ideas of texts and books by the rise of electronic texts and the Internet
will provide a constant context and point of departure for re-reading the
cultural past. The focus will be on the way material books have been
used to make cultures. The sequence will be mainly chronological.
Readings will include primary texts (e.g., Plato, Augustine, Cassiodorus,
Erasmus, early modern 'pornography', as well as contemporary WWW presentations
of such texts) and modern critical works. Regular weekly seminar
to be supplemented by discussion and assignments utilizing the WWW.
assignments with short informal writing assignment for on-line discussion
to lead or co-lead classroom discussion
two short papers
(5-10 pages, due 2/16 and 3/23, both Fridays, 9 a.m.) during the term
final paper/presentation posted to the WWW (due 5/1/01).
Grading: Participation and
short exercises --30%
Final paper-- 40%
History of Reading
The Electronic Word
Avatars of the Word
In lieu of a "bulkpack",
this course is using the experimental "course support" service provided
by Yale University Libraries and Information Technology Services.
In the syllabus below, you will find individual readings marked in red
with hyperlinks (fading to pale blue once you have used them). In
some cases you will be asked for a password: the word 'papyrus' will
suffice. If you have difficulties, contact the instructor.
"Supplemental" readings will be assigned to one or two individuals, but
are recommended to all. Some items do not yet have references, but
these will be supplied shortly.
and practices of reading
J. Borges, "The
Library of Babel"
J. Borges, "Funes
J. Borges, "Pierre
Menard: The Author of Don Quixote"
A. Manguel, A History of Reading, pp. 3-107
of reading (MEET AT STERLING MEMORIAL LIBRARY, "Arts of the Book" room)
Reading: A. Manguel, A History of Reading, pp. 109-319
about media of communication
Reading: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media pp. 3-40
Supplemental: M. McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage
Reading: J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word, pp. 1-43
and Wilson, Scribes and Scholars, pp. 1-43 and also pp.
Supplemental: J. Derrida, On Dissemination
fuller bibliography on ancient and late antique textual practices
may be found on the syllabus
of a course I taught some years ago.
high-tech culture (MEET AT BEINECKE RARE BOOK LIBRARY:
Plaza, then meet downstairs at the public service desk)
Reading: J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word, pp. 50-63
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine: complete
or in substantial
excerpts -- emphasize book 2
-- emphasize "bibliography" in book 1
Supplemental: W.V. Harris, Ancient Literacy
Reading: J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word, pp. 71-91
Supplemental: Febvre, Eisenstein, Jardine
Reading: J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word, pp. 99-123
Supplemental: M. Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright
3/13/01 Spring Break
Reading: individual choice from bibliography
Supplemental: M. Ascher, Code of the quipu: a study in media,
mathematics, and culture
of attention (1)
Reading: Richard Lanham, The Electronic Word
Wired magazine: current issue
4/3/01 After the
Reading: Lanham, The Electronic Word
Supplemental: S. Turkle, Life on the Screen
J. Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck
and the web store: B&N vs. Amazon: ebooks, web sites, etc.
Reading: G. Nunberg, "Farewell
to the Information Age," in The Future of the Book
R. Chartier, "Libraries
without Walls," representations, 42(1992) 38-52
Supplemental: Nicholson Baker