This is a new course that will be exploring basic questions of what a book is. What are the preconditions of particualr kinds of reading and writing? What are the changing ways in which they have been imagined and practiced? We will begin with an analysis of the relation between the technologies of the modern book and scroll technologies (in classical antiquity, in Judaism, in the twentieth century [films, audio and video tapes]). We will also look at the ways in which reading and writing are imagined in Judaism and Christianity.
Most of the course will be an exploration of specific problems in the history of the book, focusing upon the Song of Songs, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and Joyce's Ulysses. We will also be looking at the attempts to control and limit reading and writing through censorship.