Abstract

New media played an important but largely understudied role in the formation of literary studies as a discipline. The dominant tradition of literary criticism has implied that literature was superior to and fully distinct from competing media and that the methods and concepts of literary scholarship were untouched by the emergence of new technological media. This introduction surveys some of the ways in which modern literary scholarship was in fact entangled with new media: from the revolutionary effect of the photostat on textual studies, to the rise of the concept of “orality” in tandem with new techniques for transcribing sound, to twentieth-century literary scholars’ extensive experiments with film and video as novel pedagogical aids. Along with the contributions to this special issue, this introduction shows that revisiting the false starts and dead ends of media-attuned literary scholarship during this formative period can help us defamiliarize our own convictions and open up alternative visions for the place of literary studies in a media-saturated world.

This special issue explores the emergence of new recording and broadcast media in and as a crucial formative phase in the disciplinary history of literary studies. Turning to a period before the familiar postwar and late twentieth-century constellation of media studies—to the decades that precede the Toronto School in North America, the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, cultural studies and the sociology of texts in Great Britain, and related strains of anthropology and social history in France—our contributors ask how literary scholarship responded to, and was shaped by, modern technological media and the critical discussion they prompted in academe and well beyond.

In the last twenty years, a growing body of scholarship has connected new media to developments in the arts, music, and writing in the period between 1900 and 1960.1 The history of communication research, and of early work on art forms using new media (especially photography and film), has been the subject of surveys and anthologies (Averbeck-Lietz 2017; Kaes, Baer, and Cowan 2016; Kümmel and Löffler 2002; Simonson and Park 2015; Simonson et al. 2013). Important work has appeared on the conceptual histories of mediation leading up to media theory proper (Guillory 2010; Shechtman 2020). Nevertheless, scholarship on the methodological and conceptual impact of new media has not entered the mainstream of disciplinary history in the humanities. Art history presents one significant exception: since the 1980s the role of photographic reproduction in the formation of that discipline has been an important area of research, resulting in an extensive secondary literature addressing topics such as the impact of the slide projector on art-historical pedagogy, early twentieth-century debates over the use of facsimiles in art-historical research, and the epistemological potential of art-historical photo collections.2 Similar work has appeared on the role of photography in the formation of archaeology and anthropology as modern disciplines (Bohrer 2005; Edwards 1992).

Literary study has been slow to situate its history in these terms. There are several reasons for this. The dominant tradition of twentieth-century criticism demanded an exclusive focus on the written quality of literature, asserting its distinctness from, imperviousness to, and superiority over ostensibly competing media. An awareness of the history of the discipline has been less integral to training and research in literary scholarship than it is to such academic disciplines as art history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, or the paradisciplinary project of (literary) theory. With few exceptions (see, e.g., Galey 2014), there remains a sense not only that literature is the least medial of all the arts but also that the only medium literary scholarship engages with is language. Persistent antitechnological biases in literary scholarship have thus made the impact of new media on the formation of the discipline a comparatively neglected topic.

Yet—to take one modern medium as an example—the very same photographic technology that revolutionized art-historical research had important, if less well documented, effects on the study of literature and language. Henry Fox Talbot, inventor of the calotype and a pioneer of photography, included a facsimile of a blackletter page from a sixteenth-century book in his Pencil of Nature (1844), now widely known as the earliest commercially published book to feature photographic illustrations. The caption facing the facsimile page (Talbot 1844: plate 9) announces, “To the Antiquarian this application of the photographic art seem[s] destined to be of great advantage.”3 Talbot’s prediction was accurate. By 1921 the first head librarian of the Huntington could write, in the introduction to a series of papers on the uses of photography in textual studies (Cole 1921: 1), that “the photostat has worked a complete revolution in bibliographical and research work by furnishing a comparatively inexpensive means of comparison between different copies of the same book.”4 Major editions, such as the Manly-Rickert Text of the Canterbury Tales (1940), resulted from the close textual study made possible by extensive photographing of extant manuscripts.5 The increasing use of microform altered textual storage and retrieval practices in ways that profoundly affected literary scholarship.6 It was with the help of reproductions that the materiality of texts became a rich source of evidence about technologies and procedures of production and reproduction, and the subject of research whose goals were no longer limited to questions of dating or of establishing editions. Long before Marshall McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) influenced foundational work in what became known as the history of the book, the photographic reproduction of material texts had nourished the growth of subdisciplines in textual and bibliographical scholarship and had facilitated the advanced study of literary and documentary texts in classrooms.7

New technologies for the recording and playback of sound were no less transformative of literary research. Hugo Meltzl (1879), editor of the first journal of comparative literature and often considered one of the discipline’s founders, wrote about the significance of Thomas Edison’s phonograph for researchers, highlighting its utility for the preservation and study of the world’s spoken languages and of recited or sung “folk literatures.” In the early twentieth century the disparate areas of ethnography and phonography, ethnomusicology and literature, and scholarship and creative work became intertwined in the study of the traditions of Western modernity’s nonliterate others: in the anthropology of colonized peoples (Hochman 2014; Taussig 1993) and of European peasants; in the work of recording and collecting the oral traditions of African Americans, Bosnians, Hungarians, or Irish; as well as in research into the oral traditions of premodern Europeans. Milman Parry’s (1987) studies of the oral style of the Homeric epics are only the best-known example in which philological research converged with phonographically enabled fieldwork to revolutionize approaches to a central problem in literary study. As Haun Saussy (2016) documents, new techniques for the transcription of sound helped increasingly to make the spoken word an object of study in its own right, rendering orality itself newly visible as a medium. Saussy shows how experiments in technologically aided acoustical analysis offered novel means of resolving both contemporary debates and the oldest of controversies, as when the “inscribing ear” invented by the phonetician Jean-Pierre Rousselot was used by French scholars to argue that free verse did indeed possess a special regularity of its own, as well as to weigh in with newly scientific authority on classic disputes about the French alexandrine (109–15).

Nor did academic research alone change in response to new media: pedagogy, indeed the whole infrastructure of the modern university, was fundamentally affected. The histories of educational film, radio, and television have only recently attracted sustained scholarly attention (Acland and Wasson 2011; Dahlquist and Fryholm 2019; Grieveson and Wasson 2008; Orgeron, Orgeron, and Streible 2012). Yet many academics and universities were active from the beginning in using new media for pedagogical and promotional purposes. Universities broadcast roundtable academic discussions over the radio; scholars directed educational films and later embraced television as an exciting new medium for language instruction and the dissemination of literature. An important study by Mark Garrett Cooper and John Marx (2018) argues that the modern American research university has always essentially been a media institution, driven by the imperative to create audiences for higher education (see also Fletcher 2014). Cooper and Marx offer extensive documentation to support the thesis that scholars in the twentieth century were deeply entangled in government- and foundation-funded research programs into modern media and communications theory. Contributions to this special issue (see in particular John Guillory and Jonathan Foltz) demonstrate that the active engagement of humanities scholars in media research and in pedagogical experiments with new media provoked fresh thinking about literature in this period. By revisiting the forgotten archive of new-media content produced by humanities scholars, this issue reveals hitherto neglected convergences of literary theory with media theory in the first half of the twentieth century.

Attending to the scholarly embrace of new media during this period complicates our understanding of how the critique of mass media and mass culture shaped modern humanities disciplines and literary studies in particular. Central figures in the early twentieth-century history of literary studies—critics such as I. A. Richards and F. R. Leavis—contributed to a discussion seemingly ubiquitous in Europe and the Atlantic world when they described advertising, cinema, and radio as corrupting influences on modern culture and assigned literary criticism the task of opposing the stock responses and diminishment of standards supposedly promoted by these new media. (See Guillory and Foltz on Richards, Sonja Drimmer on relevant debates in art history, and Jane O. Newman and András Kiséry for politically divergent examples of this discourse.) The critiques of mass culture articulated by Leavis and other members of the Scrutiny circle from the 1930s on have been described as the “foundation of media studies in Britain” (Hilliard 2012: 48); works like Leavis and Denys Thompson’s (1937) Culture and Environment set out to inculcate critical awareness of the strategies employed by mass-market fiction, cinema, and especially advertising, whose rapid development as an applied science seemed menacingly ahead of the development of “practical criticism.” Reaction against new (“mass”) media thus played a central negative role in the definition Richards and Leavis gave to literary studies and the staking out of what they saw as its distinctive disciplinary ambit. Yet this critique of the cultural products associated with new media went hand in hand, at times, with enthusiasm about the pedagogical possibilities of new media, as in the case, discussed by two of our contributors (Guillory and Foltz), of Richards’s use of televisual aids in his teaching. The entanglement of literary scholars’ own developing discipline with the developing new media is a major throughline of the essays collected here.

Similar conjunctures of cultural criticism and media experimentation pushed into the public arena, such as Walter Benjamin’s 1932 radio play, “What the Germans Were Reading While Their Classical Authors Were Writing” (Benjamin 2014). This piece, which we would now call docudrama or creative nonfiction, was about popular literature and the book trade in the early nineteenth century. Benjamin’s title alludes to the contrast between canonical and popular writing that defined what was and was not appropriately studied in literature departments. In the piece Benjamin explores the problems of censorship, the economy of publishing, the creation of lending libraries, and, centrally, the sociology of reading in the period. Research on these topics—on print, the news industry, and the formation of publics and audiences—coincided with the emergence of new academic programs in radio studies and newspaper studies. Some of the most adventurous media-oriented research projects also gave rise to communities and institutions outside academe. The Renaissance art historian Aby Warburg (1999: 651), in articulating his precocious vision of a general science of the image, often deployed the analogy of the laboratory, speaking in one memorable instance of disparate disciplines “shar[ing] a workbench in the laboratory of cultural-scientific picture-history,” while the interdisciplinary, collaborative research required by the commercial application of the new technology of radio spurred early forms of lab humanities (Tkaczyk 2021). The formation of new disciplines in the centers of an increasingly global academic universe made an impact on research and on evolving institutions elsewhere: for example, when newspaper studies programs were first introduced at Japanese and Hungarian universities—within departments of literature and Germanistik, respectively—they explicitly followed the model of German Zeitungswissenschaft (Schäfer 2011; Sipos 2000). These changes within the research university pushed literary studies and other humanities disciplines to define themselves anew as a force of opposition to the “scientistic” research that, to the new humanists, was yet another manifestation of the corrupting tendencies of commercial and industrial rationality.8

Despite such tensions, academic research on the sociology of reading, journalistic debates about new media and mass culture (Kaes 1987), and the lived experience of spectatorship in the era of cinema deeply informed scholarly approaches to the theatrical and literary publics of earlier periods even where scholars themselves were critical of modernity and mass media.9 Alfred Harbage (1941) and S. L. Bethell (1944) explicitly modeled their understanding of Shakespeare’s audiences on the social inclusiveness of movie audiences, though they saw the latter as a debased version of the type of collectivity out of which Shakespearean drama was supposed to have organically grown. Not only did Erich Auerbach show a strong interest throughout his career in literary style as a register of the formation of literary publics, but as Newman shows in her essay in this issue, his account of seventeenth-century French theatrical audiences converged with Siegfried Kracauer’s account of twentieth-century cinema audiences. Ideas, metaphors, and technical terminology originating in new media filtered into some of the most ambitious literary-historical writing of the period: for example, cinematic montage defined the notion of storytelling elaborated in Benjamin’s (2002) famous essay on Nikolai Leskov. The experience of new media in the early twentieth century thus brought into focus for many scholars how constellations of technology had shaped literary forms and the social lives of texts. It gave rise to concepts and emphases that shifted the orientation of literary criticism, at times pointing the way toward a reconceptualization of literature itself.

This collection explores a diverse range of ways in which scholars in the humanities engaged with new media in the first half of the twentieth century. While some of the essays that follow focus on literary history and interpretation, others look at the confluence of literature and related disciplines. The larger questions the collection seeks to explore are how engagement with media affected the formation and institutionalization of literary studies among the academic disciplines that constitute the modern humanities, and how media were theorized in the context of the humanities before the early 1960s, when foundational thinkers such as McLuhan, Jürgen Habermas, Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, Eric A. Havelock, Raymond Williams, and others radically altered the terms of the discussion.10 Although our linguistic competence and the availability of colleagues has limited our representation to currents in European and North American scholarship, we hope that, taken together, these essays convey our sense that the encounter of the humanities, and of literary studies in particular, with the new media of the twentieth century was a transnational phenomenon—more so than the media studies that took off in the Cold War period.

We have organized the contributions in chronological order according to the authors, texts, and events under consideration. The issue opens with David Nee’s essay on the convergence of two thinkers, Warburg (1866–1929) and the literary theorist André Jolles (1874–1946), on an analysis of mass-market illustrated newspapers. The final panels of Warburg’s famous unfinished project, the Mnemosyne Atlas, teem with mass-media photographs and images, part of a late, radical expansion of Warburg’s theoretical ambitions into the domain of contemporary visual culture that was cut short by his death in 1929. Nee juxtaposes Warburg’s image atlas with Jolles’s classic of genre theory, Simple Forms (1929), which draws many instances of its formal concern from the same mass-market newspapers Warburg studied. Warburg and Jolles corresponded in the late 1920s, and Nee shows that Warburg’s late turn to mass media influenced Jolles to pursue a parallel project in the literary domain. Nee argues that the key factor spurring Warburg and Jolles to analyze mass media was their shared commitment to morphology, a method of analysis indebted to the dynamic concept of form Goethe developed in The Metamorphosis of Plants and other natural scientific studies. In the early twentieth century, morphology was a recognizably distinct method employed across a range of cultural disciplines and engaged with by figures such as Georg Simmel, Ernst Cassirer, Carl Jung, Oswald Spengler, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Vladimir Propp, and Benjamin. But in the hands of Warburg and Jolles, Nee argues, morphology became a form of early media theory, a transdisciplinary method for revealing cultural homologies linking different media across the longue durée. Nee demonstrates how Jolles, inspired by Warburg’s concepts of “pathos formula” and “gestural language,” reformulated the literary concept of motif along morphological lines to trace what he termed “language gestures” as they moved from literature into other media. In doing so, Jolles staked out an important early attempt to integrate literary studies with the emergent modern system of the media.

Drimmer’s essay explores a different form of collaboration in the meticulously hand-copied and illuminated facsimile, produced by nuns at Eibingen Abbey between 1927 and 1933, of Hildegard von Bingen’s visionary twelfth-century summa, Scivias. The Eibingen facsimilists were committed so deeply to the project of mimesis that they made every effort to use medieval techniques in reproducing the text and its accompanying illuminations. When in 1945 the original medieval manuscript was lost, the Eibingen facsimile took its place, and it has come to represent Hildegard’s own authorially supervised copy in the scholarship since, even though other medieval copies of Scivias survive and mechanically reproduced photographs of the lost manuscript were made in the 1920s.

Drimmer’s contribution to our understanding of reception of the Eibingen facsimile is to place its production alongside a contemporaneous debate of immense significance in the neighboring discipline of art history: the so-called Facsimile Debate that erupted across the pages of the culture periodical Der Kreis between 1929 and 1930. In this debate scholars such as Max Sauerlandt and Erwin Panofsky weighed in on the value of mechanical reproductions both for the edification of museumgoers and for the professional study of art history. Pitting the Facsimile Debate against the facsimile craft of the Eibingen nuns, Drimmer suggests, reveals much about the context of emerging reproductive technologies devised specifically for the codex. Just as an array of technologies such as microfilm and photography and new printing processes competed to offer the most reliable reproductions of medieval books, and just as the most highly esteemed intellectuals of the day were asked to pronounce on their pedagogical and experiential value, four religious sisters engaged in a long act of manual reproduction on which contemporary scholars and students now rely. Because their labor was neither “new” nor discursive, Drimmer argues, it has gone unrecognized as a form of new-media theory and is an untold chapter in the intertwining histories of textual criticism and modern manuscript reproduction.

The older, allegedly more conventional humanistic discipline of philology and the field of the “new” media of photography and film that were growing in the early twentieth century are not commonly aligned. The institutional spaces to which they were most closely connected—a cloistered academy and the popular “public sphere,” respectively—are seen as antithetical to one another. Newman’s essay, focused on the intersections and parallels between the work of Auerbach (1892–1957) and Kracauer (1889–1969), points us to another story. There is clear evidence that Auerbach knew Kracauer’s work already in the 1920s, for example, even as Auerbach was developing some of the ideas that became central to his monumental study Mimesis (1946), which relies heavily on the vocabulary of photography and film in its treatment of literary style. In turn, Kracauer used Auerbach’s approach and the text of Mimesis in his famous Theory of Film (1960). Newman reveals how the central concerns of Auerbach’s work from the 1920s and early 1930s can be illuminated by a juxtaposition with Kracauer’s cultural-critical journalism from the same period. As Newman shows, not only did Auerbach explore the possibility of writing for nonacademic venues to reach a wider audience with journalistic criticism in Kracauer’s vein, but his analysis of how the baroque theater worked on its audiences is also strikingly similar to Kracauer’s interpretation of the social and cultural function of the early twentieth-century movie theater. In Newman’s reading, the meticulous historical philology of Auerbach’s less-known 1933 book on the French public of the seventeenth century really amounts to a critique of the early modern culture industry, a professorial equivalent of Kracauer’s efforts to come to terms with the effects of the modern culture industry.

Newman’s essay demonstrates that the analogy between the socially homogenizing effects of the two media in the work of Kracauer and Auerbach is underpinned by the analogy between their pessimistic estimations of modernity and of early modernity, as historical moments characterized by social atomization and what Georg Lukács (1971: 41, 61, 104, 122) called “transcendental homelessness.” Kiséry’s essay for this issue describes a theory of textual media that is centered on a similar analogy between the mass societies of late antiquity and modernity and between the media technologies that characterize them. Working in the wake of the late nineteenth-century discoveries of large archives of Greek papyri, and of the emergence of papyrology as a discipline, the classical philologist Karl Kerényi explored the cultural-historical implications of this “new” ancient medium, considering it, paradoxically, a point of immediate access to the “essence” of a historically distant culture. His reflections on the medium of ancient texts were informed by a conservative critique of modernity and show strong affinities with the work of such figures as the cultural theorist Oswald Spengler and the ethnologist Leo Frobenius. Kiséry argues that Kerényi’s conservatism and his understanding of textual media as expressions of the “essence” of a culture are consistent with his investment in a transhistorical humanism strongly opposed to what he viewed as a scientistic interest in the materiality of communication technologies and their social ramifications. Kerényi’s attempt to integrate the study of antiquity into the history of writing thus reveals a disciplinary fault in the study of textual media in the period. His essays are a part of an effort to claim a distinct territory and significance for the humanities to counter the disciplinary claims of the social sciences. This confrontation directly informed Kerényi’s efforts to engage with the history of the media of ancient literature and culture. His essays about the media of ancient texts were written in response to the pathbreaking 1920s and 1930s scholarly and theoretical work in the history of reading and writing by a group of Hungarian scholars. It was precisely his effort to propose a humanistic alternative to their sociologically inflected work that resulted in that odd, seemingly unsustainable hybrid, an antimaterialistic media theory.

Our collection concludes with two essays about Richards, a key figure not only in histories of Anglo-American literary criticism and theory but increasingly also in genealogies of modern media theory. Richards is best known today for the books he wrote at Cambridge in the 1920s, when he laid the basis for much Anglo-American literary criticism and teaching. In fact, Richards continued to publish until his death in 1979. Most of this later work is unread today, but it is of considerable historical interest for its oblique relation to the development of a concept of media in education. Guillory’s contribution to this issue is a study of Richards as a failed media theorist, overshadowed in the 1960s and 1970s by his student McLuhan. Richards’s work of the 1930s and after had little directly to do with literary criticism; in his own terms, Richards was interested in issues of literacy, the acquisition of second languages, and communication generally. His orientation to the problem of communication led him in Principles of Literary Criticism and Practical Criticism to speculate on the neurophysiology of reading as an instance of “stimulus and response.” Guillory argues that, despite the immense influence of these books, they rest on a premature extrapolation from a neurophysiology that was not yet ready to handle the problem of reading. This physiology was discarded by Richards’s Anglo-American students, and to some extent by Richards himself. As Guillory shows, Richards’s intersection with media theory was the result of further thinking about issues of communication, especially in the context of pedagogy. In the 1940s he began to supplement his teaching with various media, including illustrations, projected diagrams, and projections of literary works onto a screen in a darkened lecture hall. In the 1950s he collaborated with WGBH-Boston to produce a series of television lectures on works of literature. He steadily moved away from speculation about activity in the brain and focused instead on the perceptual system. This led him to theorize reading, indeed all communication, as a composite projection/reception of images: he came to see the page as a kind of screen, and all communication as mediated by screens. This focus on the screen was, in a certain sense, also premature, in advance of media theory. Despite his growing fascination with screens of all types, up to and including the computer screen, Richards did not bring his theory to a state of development that attracted broader interest, but his failure is instructive for our understanding of the course of media theory in the later twentieth century.

Foltz’s essay complements Guillory’s by dwelling on the practical aspect of Richards’s creative work for television. Richards’s WGBH-Boston lectures The Sense of Poetry and The Wrath of Achilles comprised long static shots of Richards before a camera, reciting text from Homer, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, and others, parsing their rhetoric and phrasing, and guiding the viewer through interpretations of the texts. Richards’s televisual performances of close reading participated in the early phase of “educational television,” in which stations collaborated with universities to provide edifying public programming. More proximately, though, these programs represent the culmination of Richards’s career-long attempt to redefine humanistic inquiry in an age of mass media. Richards had discovered that it was not possible to settle the matter of reading’s place in the media ecology within the discourse of literary criticism alone. It was also necessary to find ways of making the literary tradition, as well as the acts of reading necessary to interpret it, newly telegenic.

Foltz places Richards’s 1957–58 WGBH-Boston television lectures in the dual contexts of educational television and Richards’s long-standing interest in the film medium. Richards acquired considerable practical experience through his pedagogical experiments with these two media—much more, Foltz suggests, than many of the media theorists who followed in his wake. Richards’s early work using short films to teach the Basic English he designed with C. K. Ogden taught Richards the importance of coordinating multiple channels of sensory information when working with film and television. In addition to the screen, then, the voice acquired central importance in Richards’s multimedia pedagogical effort, and Foltz’s essay thus shows us that Richards’s theories of the effects of media were multiple. Foltz further demonstrates that Richards’s freedom to experiment—and, at times, to fail—in his televisual performances of close reading depended on the specific media setting of a small, decidedly local TV station and on the still unevenly professionalized state of educational television. Richards’s repeated, often humbling experiences in the production studio were characterized not just by technological backwardness but by his occupying a space for experimentation that grew increasingly scarce as the professionalization of educational television eventually intensified.

Foltz thus offers a description of Richards’s failure as a media theorist and media personality from a perspective that differs from Guillory’s. Yet their shared overall conclusion is also appropriate for our collection as a whole. Although the research our studies explore is connected to the more familiar achievements of the post-1960 landscape of media theory and media history by many threads, what our collection has to offer are archaeologies of what now seem false starts and dead ends, of work that was untimely in one way or another—yet deeply resonant with more familiar concerns and arguments, and in ways that might help us defamiliarize our own convictions.

This special issue started as a roundtable at the 2019 Modern Language Association convention in Chicago. Ron Sadan, Autumn Womack, Ernest Mitchell, Viktoria Tkacyzk, and Carolyn Birdsall were involved in this slowly emerging project, and while they could not be part of the final version of the collection, we would like to acknowledge their contributions.

Notes

1

For examples of Anglophone scholarship exploring the links between new media and literary modernism, see, e.g., Danius 2002, Foltz 2018, Goble 2010, Keane 2014, McEnaney 2017, Stoever 2016, Trotter 2013, Weheliye 2005, and Womack 2022.

2

For an introductory bibliography, see Hamill and Luke 2017: 29–30n70. Other helpful starting points are Bohrer 2002, Bredekamp 2003, Caraffa 2011, and Nelson 2000. See also Sonja Drimmer’s article in the present collection for the literature on the 1929–30 Faksimilestreit, or Hamburg Facsimile Debate.

3

Egyptology and classics figured among Talbot’s many scholarly interests, and a brochure published in 1846, The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics, shows the convergence of his photographic and philological researches. See Caminos 1966.

4

F. P. Wilson (1970: 50) suggested that textual scholarship was transformed by “photostats, photographs, and collotype facsimiles of manuscripts and printed books which for many purposes are as good as the originals.” While bibliographers and textual scholars have debated the use of reproductive technologies, articles like Tanselle 1989 and earlier discussions it quotes are pragmatic and partisan rather than historical and analytic. For a rich account of nineteenth-century book reproduction technologies, their uses, and their cultural impact, see McKitterick 2013.

5

John Manly and Edith Rickert, who pioneered the use of ultraviolet light in examining manuscripts, have been described by Henry Ansgar Kelly (2010: 328) as “founding the systematic dating of fifteenth-century English manuscripts by making photographic copies available for comparison.”

6

On microform and microfilm, see Auerbach and Gitelman 2007 and Panko 2019.

7

See Eisenstein 1979: 16–17 and, on the photographic reproduction of documents, Kittler 1991 and Alpert-Abrams 2017; on early modern English books, see Lesser 2019.

8

About the clash between Karl Mannheim and E. R. Curtius that was emblematic of the opposition between humanism and the social sciences and that had a lasting influence on the definition of the humanities, see Lepenies 1988: 313–33.

9

The best-known English example is Leavis 1932. For Weimar-era German research and public discussion about reading habits and “pulp” literature, see Reuveni 2006: 221–73.

10

Havelock (1984: 24–25) proposes 1963 as a “convenient watershed date” when a new type of reflection on orality and literacy began. He mentions Claude Lévi-Strauss’s La pensée sauvage, Jack Goody and Ian Watt’s “Consequences of Literacy,” McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy, Ernst Mayr’s Animal Species and Evolution, and his own Preface to Plato. John Durham Peters and Peter Simonson (2004: 272–73) list the same works and also add Habermas’s Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Williams’s Communications, and the English translation of Lev Vygotsky’s 1934 Thought and Language, among other texts published in 1962; see also Simonson et al. 2013: 30. John Miles Foley (1988) considers the publication of Albert Lord’s (1960) Singer of Tales a watershed moment, and we may want to add Jan Vansina’s (1961) pathbreaking work on oral history.

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