Program in the History of the Book  in American Culture

 


Bookishness
with Jessica Pressman

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm EDT

Approx. 45 minutes

Watch on YouTube

This program is free but requires advanced registration.

The American Antiquarian Society is hosting a virtual book talk with Jessica Pressman, author of Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age.

Twenty-first-century culture is obsessed with books. In a time when many voices have joined to predict the death of print, books continue to resurface in new and unexpected ways. From the proliferation of “shelfies” to Jane Austen–themed leggings and from decorative pillows printed with beloved book covers to bookwork sculptures exhibited in prestigious collections, books are everywhere and are not just for reading. Writers have caught up with this trend: many contemporary novels depict books as central characters or fetishize paper and print thematically and formally.

In Bookishness, Jessica Pressman examines the new status of the book as object and symbol. She explores the rise of “bookishness” as an identity and an aesthetic strategy that proliferates from store-window décor to experimental writing. Ranging from literature to kitsch objects, stop-motion animation films to book design, Pressman considers the multivalent meanings of books in contemporary culture. Books can represent shelter from—or a weapon against—the dangers of the digital; they can act as memorials and express a sense of loss. Examining the works of writers such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Jennifer Egan, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Leanne Shapton, Pressman illuminates the status of the book as a fetish object and its significance for understanding contemporary fakery. Bringing together media studies, book history, and literary criticism, Bookishness explains how books still give meaning to our lives in a digital age.

Jessica Pressman is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University, where she co-founded SDSU’s Digital Humanities Initiative (dh.sdsh.edu). She is the author of Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age (forthcoming with Columbia UP, 2020), Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media (Oxford University Press, 2014), co-author, with Mark C. Marino and Jeremy Douglass, of Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone’s Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit} (University of Iowa Press, 2015). She co-edited two volumes: Comparative Textual Media: Transforming theHumanities in the Postprint Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) with N. Katherine Hayles and Book Presence in a Digital Age (Bloomsbury Press, 2018) with Kiene Brillenburg Wurth and Kári Driscoll. Her full CV can be found at www.jessicapressman.com.

Order this book directly from the publisher at cupl.columbia.edu.

Jessica Pressman

 

Bookishness


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