“This collection is not writing studies as we currently understand it, but the essays herein offer a version of a possible writing studies should the field attend to and linger on the materiality of its practices. These materials, when viewed with and through a material culture studies lens, stand to bolster and make strange writing studies anew. Writing studies and literacy scholars stand to benefit much from it.”
—Casey Boyle, University of Texas
The Material Culture of Writing opens up avenues for understanding writing through scholarship in material culture studies. Contributors to this volume each interrogate an object, set of objects, or writing environment to reveal the sociomaterial contexts from which writing emerges. The artifacts studied are both contemporary and historical, including ink, a Victorian hotel visitors’ book, Moleskine notebooks, museum conservators’ files, an early twentieth-century baby book, and a college campus makerspace. Close study of such artifacts not only enriches understanding of what counts as writing but also offers up the potential for rich current and historical inquiry into writing artifacts and environments.
The collection features scholars across the disciplines—such as art, art history, English, museum studies, and writing studies—who work as teachers, historians, museum curators/conservators, and faculty. Each chapter features methods and questions from contributors’ own disciplines while at the same time speaking to writing studies’ interest in writers, writing identity, and writing practice. The authors in this volume also work with a variety of methodologies, including literary analysis, archival research, and qualitative research, providing models for the types of research possible using a material culture studies framework. The collection is organized into three sections—Writing Identity, Writing Work, Writing Genre—each with a contextualizing introduction from the editors that introduces the chapters themselves and imagines possible directions for writing studies research facilitated by material culture studies.
The Material Culture of Writing serves as an accessible introduction to work in material culture studies for writing studies scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates, especially as it makes a distinctive contribution to writing studies in its material culture studies approach. Because of the interdisciplinarity of material culture studies and this volume’s contributors, this collection will appeal to a wide range of scholars and readers, including those interested in writing studies, the history of the book, print culture, genre studies, archival methods, and authorship studies.
Contributors: Cydney Alexis, Deborah C. Andrews, Diane Ehrenpreis, Keri Epps, Desirée Henderson, Kevin James, Jenny Krichevsky, Anne MacKay, Emilie Merrigan, Laura R. Micciche, Hannah J. Rule, Kate Smith