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Category: Book review

Innes M. Keighren, Charles W. J. Withers, and Bill Bell. Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773–1859

Innes M. Keighren, Charles W. J. Withers, and Bill Bell. Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773–1859. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015. xiv, 370p., ill. (w/ col. plates). ISBN 9780226429533. US $45 (hardback).

Research in print culture has increasingly come to take account of the way books travel in space as well as time: not for nothing was SHARP’s 2013 conference on the theme “geographies of the book.” This significant and timely volume, drawing on the uniquely rich records of the John Murray archive at the National Library of Scotland, is a major contribution to the study of the journeys made not only by authors, but also by their books.

Jamie Kamph. Tricks of the Trade: Confessions of a Bookbinder. Kristina Lundblad. Bound to be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book, 1840–1914

Jamie Kamph. Tricks of the Trade: Confessions of a Bookbinder. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015. viii, 136p., ill. ISBN 9781584563341. US $24.95 (paperback).

Kristina Lundblad. Bound to be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book, 1840–1914. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015. 336p., ill. ISBN 9781584563136. US $95 (hardback).

Two recent publications from Oak Knoll Press highlight some of the wide range of writing currently on offer about bookbinding. Jamie Kamph is a practicing bookbinder, and Tricks of the Trade consists of 27 personal essays that focus on technical information intended for bookbinders, as well as observations on book decoration and a bit of autobiography. Kristina Lundblad’s Bound to be Modern, in contrast, is a wide-ranging academic overview of nineteenth-century Swedish publishers’ bindings.

Natasha Simonova. Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson

Natasha Simonova. Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. viii, 232p., ill. ISBN 9781137474124. £55 (hardback).

What does Fifty Shades of Grey have in common with Sidney’s Arcadia? The question might at first seem absurd, but Natasha Simonova’s new volume situates both texts within a long tradition of prose continuations, or what we today might call “fan fiction” – continuations of a narrative written by someone other than the story’s original author. This study of prose continuations from the late sixteenth through the mid-eighteenth century provides an intelligent and nuanced intervention in the history of authorship.

Jessica DeSpain. Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book

Jessica DeSpain. Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. xiv, 210p., ill. ISBN 9781409432005. £60 (hardback).

Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book centres on the transatlantic book trade from the 1840s through the 1890s, looking at the circulation of British books in the United States and American books in Britain. Basing her argument on extensive archival research into multiple editions of reprints, as well as on reviews, advertisements and readers’ letters, Jessica DeSpain details the “indiscriminate nature of transatlantic transmission” (11), offering an analysis of the different ways that books were reframed for various American and British audiences.

Kimberly Johnson. Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England

Kimberly Johnson. Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 248p., ill. ISBN 9780812245882. US $59.95 (hardcover).

Kimberly Johnson’s Made Flesh makes clear the goal of her work in its striking and direct opening sentence: “This is a book about how poems work, and about how the interpretive demands of sacramental worship inform the production of poetic texts” (1). Johnson sets her project apart from other critical texts on post-Reformation sacramental poetics, which aimed to do this very thing, but failed, as Johnson posits, to truly engage “the way poems work as literary artifacts” (1).

Paulette M. Rothbauer, Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Knut Oterholm, eds. Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory, Practice, Politics

Paulette M. Rothbauer, Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Knut Oterholm, eds. Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory, Practice, Politics. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2016. ix, 404p. ISBN 9781771121736. US$ 85.00.

Must have been fun. On June 11-12, 2013, 60 scholars gathered at Akershus University’s College of Applied Sciences in Oslo, Norway to share their research on readers and reading. Plotting the Reading Experience contains 23 papers presented there that focus on readers and their reading experiences. The volume is organized into the three broad yet interdependent categories: theory, practice, and politics. Essays embrace a variety of research methodologies and disciplinary approaches; cover the reading of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by children and adult readers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and focus on the Western world, with generous attention to Scandinavian readers.

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 222p., ill. ISBN 9780823272891. US$ 27.00 (paperback), US$ 95.00 (hardcover).

I have written a number of reviews, but rarely do I crack open a book to review and immediately become so immersed that I have trouble putting the book down. Only a couple pages in, I found myself scribbling notes in the margins, asking questions, and tying the subject matter to my own research and exhibitions. Fugitive Testimony is interdisciplinary, comparing and contrasting historical slave narratives and narratives in contemporary art.

Alexander Starre. Metamedia: American Book Fictions and Literary Print Culture after Digitization

Alexander Starre. Metamedia: American Book Fictions and Literary Print Culture after Digitization. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2015. 310p., ill. ISBN 9781609383596. US$ 55.00.

Metamedia is part of the University of Iowa Press series Impressions: Studies in the Art, Culture, and Future of Books, edited by Mathew P. Brown. Starre, a German-based American literary scholar, concerns himself with American literature and the dawn of the ebook at the turn of the millennium. “The complex phenomenon of metamediality exhibits the irritations that media change initiated in recent American literature” (29), Starre argues, justifying his particular emphasis on American literature.

David Peplow, Joan Swann, Paola Trimarco, and Sara Whiteley. The Discourse of Reading Groups: Integrating Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives

David Peplow, Joan Swann, Paola Trimarco, and Sara Whiteley. The Discourse of Reading Groups: Integrating Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives. New York and London: Routledge, 2016. ix, 203p. ISBN 9780415729697. US$ 163.00 (hardback). ISBN 9781138086067. US$ 45.95 (paperback).

This book, co-authored by linguistics experts, examines reading group discussion through a series of case studies of English-speaking (mostly British) readers and their conversations about canonical and contemporary literary texts. The main aim of the authors is to combine the concepts and analytical frameworks available within cognitive linguistics – more particularly, stylistics – and sociolinguistics in order to produce an analysis of book group discussion that simultaneously takes account of reader-text interaction, group dynamics, and the identities of readers.

Timothy Laquintano. Mass Authorship and the Rise of Self-Publishing

Timothy Laquintano. Mass Authorship and the Rise of Self-Publishing. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2016. xi, 243p. ISBN 9781609384456. US$ 25.00 (paperback).

Over the past 20 years, scholars, public intellectuals, parents, and teachers have fretted over the impact of the computer and other digital technologies that have transformed reading. Of course, the computer has also changed the way we write, edit, and share texts as well as the ways that we locate and purchase them. And, as Timothy Laquintano explains in Mass Authorship and the Rise of Self-Publishing, digital tools have completely transformed publishing by making it quicker, easier, cheaper, and far more accessible.