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Series editor: Professor Sandro Jung (Ghent University/University of Edinburgh), author, among other works, of David Mallet, Anglo-Scot: Poetry, Politics, and Patronage in the Age of Union (2008); The Fragmentary Poetic: Eighteenth-Century Uses of an Experimental Mode (2009); James Thomson’s The Seasons, Print Culture, and Visual Interpretation, 1730-1842 (2015), and James Thomson (2016).

Series aims: The series welcomes historical investigations (in the form of single-authored monographs and edited collections of essays) of the great range of text technologies that authors and the various agents of textual production (including typesetters, engravers, printers, and visual artists) utilised from the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century to promote, give shape to, and mediate particular ideas and concepts. Each volume should be framed by a research question that revolves around the importance of text technologies for the dissemination and promotion of ideas while embedding investigations within the multifarious contexts of the media economy of the time under consideration. The series encourages in particular studies that focus on visual culture (paintings, book illustrations, print), the intersection of the verbal text with material culture (designs visualising texts on furniture, fabric, ceramics), and examinations of intermediality. The study of hybrid text technologies, involving the concurrent use of text and images, as well as their design and (material) packaging, are of interest, as are studies that focus on the empirical recovery of reading experience on the basis of investigations of text objects and the technologies that made possible their production. 

Series description: The circulation of ideas and the physical or virtual dissemination of texts giving them shape are predicated on the use of technologies. All technologies entail the effective use of skills, methods, and processes to generate goods for consumption by a large range of readers with different abilities to read text and make sense of textually inscribed visual and other media. When applied to media economies in which ideas are being conveyed in multifarious formats and modes, technologies facilitate the mediation of these instances of mental text by creating material forms of expression (such as manuscript, type, printing, the codex format, [narrative] paintings and book illustrations, as well as music), as well as representational systems (such as electronic text production systems ranging from word-processing programmes to txt messages). Both these material incarnations of text and their representational systems make possible the containing of messages, information, and ideology by means of a plethora of objects ranging from those issuing, from the fifteenth century, from the printing press to those mass-produced images generated on the lithographic stones of the nineteenth century. Text is here understood broadly to designate not only verbal but also visual forms of expression. The condition of these systems of signification is conceived as being dynamic, intermedial, and pervasive in terms of their recruitment by fields of cultural production as different as the theatre, dress fashion, and textually inscribed objects including, among many others, fans and porcelain featuring illustrations of various subjects.

Text technologies not only facilitate the dissemination of information; rather, through the design of particular formats and the meaningful inscription of the materials used to contain and frame abstract, mental text (including fonts, layout, and visual elements), readers’ apprehension of textual content and meaning is being affected. Text technologies thrive on improvements in literacy and innovations in the production of the materials recruited for the physical manufacture of text object. And once mass (re)production processes became possible in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, text technologies promoted widespread knowledge of the information contained in these text objects.

With the invention of moveable type, new design opportunities became available, which helped authors and publishers to recruit agents of print such as typesetters and engravers to mediate their works by shaping them into particular forms. These forms remained in flux and changeable and absorbed changes in the composition of typographic text by integrating image material – in engraved and, subsequently, freely designed form reproduced photo-mechanically. These composite hybrid media forms reflect an ever morphing textual condition in which text and image enter a dynamic relationship, which at times encourages synthetic readings and, at others, makes possible the privileging of one representational, meaning-giving medium over the other. With the increasing possibilities, in the eighteenth century, to produce a range of different kinds of paper for different purposes and a new range of binding options becoming available, the physical objects’ bibliographical codes reflected deliberate decisions on the part of authors and publishers to package texts and encode them paratextually. These decisions were made to accommodate an ever increasing number of readers, and the explosion of text objects in the eighteenth century was a direct result of the increasing demand in the period’s media economy for a growing number of medial incarnations of popular texts. This demand encouraged competition among publishers to cater to this growing number of readers and to produce a great variety of very different text objects that was marketed to both the lower and upper end of the financial and social spectrum.

 

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