(I took this image from TeleRead…)
“CFP: What Is the History of (Electronic) Books? Four decades after the launch of Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg and three decades after the publication of Robert Darnton’s seminal essay, “What Is the History of Books?,” are we able to start telling the history of electronic books? If so, what are the ways by which authorship, publishing, reading, and scholarship have been influenced, shaped, or changed by electronic books? Do electronic books transmit texts in new ways? What relationships do electronic books create or threaten amongst authors, publishers, and readers? What does it mean to collect and curate electronic books?” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada
Bibliographic studies are beginning to see the screen book as a historical topic. That is where FotB has been as well. Our abstracts are either too feeble or too crazy, but it is fun to watch the post-digital surge.
Janice, book conservator at the Smithsonian, remarks that Jefferson’s paste-up production of his version of the Gospels clearly demonstrates his fine hand skills.
I would go a bit further with that projection. The surgical excisions, leaving delicate webs of the margins intact, also demonstrate Jefferson’s high regard for books. He uses his quill knife with such a careful, attentive deference.The very fact that these excised volumes survive is telling.
Also evident, in my own projection from this artifact, is Jefferson’s stately understanding of the distinction between manuscript and print and his further understanding that he was producing a hybrid. For example, note the strict typographic line breaks and leading of the hand written title page.
Best of all, we can project in Jefferson’s hand made distillation of the Gospels his quiet pleasure at cutting away debris of dingy Church Councils and revisionist enclaves determined to improve on simple morals. He also left the miracles unused. This must have been both an enjoyable fantasy as well an escape from political and institutional ineptitudes surrounding him.
Yes, Jefferson took some deliberate care with making the Bible. Actually that is another point to be observed; the excised narrative is not just a string of fragments. This is actually a new, new testament and the surviving Bibles with the cut-outs serve as an old testament. Here’s the CSPAN-3 video link: Well worth the full viewing.
A larger group has met to advance investigation of the future of the book. Interest groups include the Digital Humanities program and University Archives. We propose three products. These products are a bibliographic portal, a program of research seminars focused on the future of the book and a live moderation of exchange and discussion as new disciplinary approaches emerge from the portal and class work. Stay tuned…