Tag Archives: Book Arts

Event | Shannon Mattern on the meaning of book storage furniture in our reading lives

Thursday, 22 February 2018, 6pm Room 523 in Butler Library

On Thursday, February 22, the RBML and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature and Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature, hosts Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School.

Professor Mattern will present on the long history of the bookshelf, “Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture.” Prof. Mattern will survey the furniture we design and build to make, store, support, organize, and preserve our bibliographic objects, focusing on how these structures inform the way human bodies relate to those media, and embody certain assumptions about what and how we know things through these objects.

Inside the under construction reading room in the new Wiener Library @ Russell Square in Camden Town, London, UK

Photo credit: Peter Alfred Hess | Flickr: peterhess

Professor Mattern’s talk will be followed by a Q & A. The event is free and open to the public but registration is recommended. 

Event | Roger Chartier on textual mobility

Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 6pm, Room 523 in Butler Library

Moliere's Le Festin de pierre (known as Don Juan)

Le Festin de pierre (known as Don Juan)

On Wednesday, February 7, the RBML and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature and Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature, hosts Roger Chartier, Professor in the Collège de France and Annenberg Visiting Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Chartier will use Molière’s play, Le Festin de pierre (known as Don Juan), to model a type of book historical inquiry that focuses on textual mobility.

The talk follows the play from its first attribution to Molière, looping in its first performance and first appearances in print, moves on to early translations, adaptations, and editions of the work, and concludes with the reception of the work by early readers and viewers.

Professor Chartier’s talk will be followed by a Q & A. The event is free and open to the public but registration is recommended. 

 

Floral-strewn mathematics

Printers’ flowers, pieces of type bearing designs (generally floral and arabesque) rather than letterforms, are a convenient and traditional way for a printer to pretty-up a text, as the ornaments combine easily within the page of type for printing. The samples above and below, both from Agostino dal Pozzo’s Gnomonices biformis, Venice 1679 (Plimpton 513 1679 Au4), are pretty typical. (To be clear, in the example below, two kinds of printers’ ornaments surround a woodblock. You can see in the top right row where one of the ornaments was inserted 90 degrees off kilter.)

I love seeing what compositors can create with printers’ flowers. But then, working with books we’re cataloging from the Plimpton collection, I was so pleased to open Jean L’Hoste’s Epipolimetrie (Sainct-Mihiel, 1619), Plimpton F513 1619, and find pages like this:

There’s an initial S at the beginning of the page surrounded with printers’ flowers (I didn’t say they were all attractively printed, did I?), but what I find most appealing here are the little flowers scattered over the mathematical diagrams. They aren’t proper printers flowers, though they are loosely modeled after them, and cut into the wood block along with the diagram. Why? as I understand it, having what would otherwise be empty space within the type page filled with something print-high makes printing easier; but this isn’t so common an occurrence, so I believe that aesthetics are also involved.

I didn’t remember noticing this phenomenon before, but soon found two more examples. And from the book above, printed in France in 1619, we move across the decades to a book printed in Paris in 1556:

 

This is Oronce Fine’s De rebus mathematicis (Paris: Vascosani, 1556), Plimpton F513 1556 F49. Surprisingly, I found the same phenomenon in an Italian book:  Apollonius, Conicorum libri quattuor (Bononiae [Bologna]: A. Benatius, 1566), Plimpton F516.02 1566:

Isn’t it a beauty? Early Italian books have a certain robustness of appearance I always enjoy. Anyhow, I’ll have to keep a lookout for more samples of not-quite-printers-flowers.