What is a book in the study of print culture? For the scholar of
material texts, it is not only a singular copy carrying the unique
traces of printing and preservation efforts, or an edition,
repeated and repeatable, or a vehicle for ideas to be abstracted
from the physical copy. But when the bibliographer situates a book
copy within the methods of book history, Joseph A. Dane contends,
it is the known set of assumptions which govern the discipline that
bibliographic arguments privilege, repeat, or challenge. "Book
history," he writes, "is us."
In Blind Impressions, Dane reexamines the field of
material book history by questioning its most basic assumptions and
definitions. How is print defined? What are the limits of printing
history? What constitutes evidence? His concluding section takes
form as a series of short studies in theme and variation,
considering such matters as two-color printing, the composing stick
used by hand-press printers, the bibliographical status of book
fragments, and the function of scholarly illustration in the
Digital Age. Meticulously detailed, deeply learned, and often
contrarian, Blind Impressions is a bracing critique of the
way scholars define and solve problems.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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