Chartier 1995

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Chartier, Roger. Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995.

"How are we to understand the ways in which the form that transmits a text to its readers or hearers constrains the production of meaning?" (1)
"The dialectic of imposed constraint and invention occurs where conventions that put genres in a hierarchy; that codify forms; and that distinguish between discourse that is literal or figurative, historical or fabulous, demonstrative or persuasive, encounter the schemes of perception and judgment inherent to each community of readers." (1)
"When the 'same' text is apprehended through very different mechanisms of representation, it is no longer the same. Each of its forms obeys specific conventions that mold and shape the word according to the laws of that form and connect it, in differing ways, with other arts, other genres, and other texts. If we want to understand the appropriations and interpretations of a text in their full historicity we need to identify the effect, in terms of meaning, that its material forms produced." (2)

point of view "that recognizes social differences in contrasting customs and that holds the meanings that readers (or spectators) assign to a text to be plural and mobile" (3)

Representations of the Written Word

"While earlier revolutions in reading took place without changing the fundamental structure of the book, such will not be the case in our own world. The revolution that has begun is, above all, a revolution in the media and forms that transmit the written word. In this sense, the present revolution has only one precedent in the West: the substitution of the codex for the volumen -- of the book composed of quires for the book in the form of a roll -- during the first centuries of the Christian era." (18)

digital spaces; "the communication of texts over distances annuls the heretofore insoluble distinction between the place of the text and the place of the reader, and so makes this ancient dream possible, accessible." (21)

"the transfer of a written heritage from one medium to another, from the codex to the screen, would create immeasurable possibilities, but it would also do violence to the texts by separating them from the original physical forms in which they appeared and which helped to constitute their historical significance." (22)

Princely Patronage and the Economy of Dedication

king's library -- "not a solitarium, that is, a place of retirement from society or a refuge for secret pleasures. Open to men of letters, to scholars, and even to the merely curious ... these collections of manuscripts and printed works could be mobilized to serve knowledge, the rights of the monarch, or state politics and propaganda." (27)

dedications -- "central to the economy of patronage, which obligated the dedicatee to accord protection, employment, or remuneration in exchange for the book dedicated, offered, and accepted." (41)

From Court Festivity to City Spectators

Popular Appropriations: The Readers and Their Books

"I have argued that it is pointless to try to identify popular culture by some supposedly specific distribution of cultural objects or models. Their distribution is always more complex than it might seem at first glance, as are their uses by groups or individuals." (88-9)
"Apparently passive and submissive, reading is, in fact, in its own way, inventive and creative." (90)
"All cultural analysis must take into account this irreducibility of experience to discourse. It must guard against an uncontrolled use of the category of the text, against applying the notion of the text to practices (ordinary or ritual) whose tactics and procedures are not at all similar to strategies that produce discourses." (96)