Book history from the archival record

Bode, Katherine, and Osborne, Roger (2014) Book history from the archival record. In: Howsham, Leslie, (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 219-36.

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[Excerpt]: The OED defines the archive simply as ‘A place in which public records or other important historic documents are kept’. Whether in a library or museum, an online database or a dusty box in an attic, archives are the basis for all humanities scholarship. In book history, they hold a particularly special place, because scholars in this field are concerned with not only what is ostensibly recorded in the archive, but the material evidence of print culture that archives contain. Quite simply, archival research provides the principal way for book historians to explore and understand the history and nature of authorship, publication, distribution and reception of print culture. Since the early twenty-first century, there has been significant growth in interest in the concept of the archive, in the context of, and arguably motivated by, the processes and implications of digitizing our cultural heritage. This extensive body of critical scholarship spans a range of fields, including literary studies, history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and political science. Much of this research builds upon important analyses of the archive by philosopher Jacques Derrida and historian Michel Foucault. These scholars’ conceptions of the archive are complex and challenging, but broadly speaking, both emphasize its contingent nature – the way in which an institution tends to respond to changing values – and its relationship to history and memory, as well as to social, political and technological power.

Item ID: 52695
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 9781139152242
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 02:48
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2099 Other Language, Literature and Culture > 209999 Language, Communication and Culture not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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