Brayman Lander and Lesser 2016

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Brayman, Heidi, Jesse M. Lander, and Zachary Lesser, eds. The Book in History, The Book as History: New Intersections of the Material Text. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.


"The history of the book thus provides an alternative to the New Historicist mode of reading text as discourse, shifting attention from the freeform 'circulation of social energy' to a more rooted understanding of text a objects produced by particular people in particular circumstances to speak to particular audiences." (13)

second-wave book history seeks "to expicate how texts work rhetorically in the world, as events rather than discourses." (13)

Alan B. Farmer, "Playbooks and the Question of Ephemerality" (87-125)

become common to assume playbooks were ephemeral documents; using data analysis to reassess "the presumed relationsnhip between cultural and bibliographical ephemerality, in which texts of low cultural value are thought to have been printed poorly and subsequently treated by readers as disposable artifacts. In fact, there are good reasons to question this narrative. Cultural ephemerality is best seen as a discursive category shaped by ideological commitments and prejudices, whereas bibliographical ephemerality is a material category affected by a publication's physical characteristics; both of these could affect how readers subsequently handled publications, but neither absolutely determined whether a book would be destroyed or preserved. In the case of playbooks, whatever early modern readers may have thought about printed drama, these publications were not particularly ephemeral." (90)

calculating "size" of book by edition-sheets (how many sheets to print the edition); calculating loss rate using numbered editions

sheets matter -- loss rates greatly decrease after 10 edition-sheets

high-loss genres: needlework and lace patterns, handwriting manuals, catechisms, grammars and reading instruction, meditation and prayer books, moral advice to children, prose fiction

almanacs and corantos (news pamphlets) -- not as high a loss rate as expeted; readers saved them year to year, kept notes in almanacs...

"the type of binding in which books were originally sold seems to have had little or no effect on loss rates" (111)

long books were "the exception in the trade, not the default against which pamphlets should be judged" (112)

"The median length of all extant speculative publications from 1580 to 1640 is 9 sheets, a length much shorter than some scholars have believed could be true. With lost editions factored in, the actual median length of speculative publications would be even shorter perhaps around 7 sheets. The book trade was awash in 'short' books." (113)

playbooks are "noticeably missing from the genres with the highest loss rates or the most lost editions" (114)

"The weight of bibliographical evidence shows that they were not 'self-destructing artefacts,' destroyed by the negligence and disdain of early modern readers. There are genres that were ephemeral, such as catechisms, meditation and prayer books, schoolbook grammars, corantos, and pamphlets of two sheets or less. Playbooks, however, were not, and do not warrant being thought of as early modern ephemera." (116)

Bianca F.-C. Calabresi, "'His Idoliz'd Book': Milton, Blood, and Rubrication" (207-231)

rubrication -- use of red to print saint's names -- in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, used to print martyr's names, but defended by Foxe as not a popish practice -- used in books of prayer to indicate a chapter heading, a guide to the day's reading ("rubric")

red used to indicate guilt for murder of Charles, but also King's martyrdom