Wednesday, 17 February 2016

reading week intermezzo

No class this week requiring a follow-up post, but I'm on a book-history related visit to Yale for the next several days and thought I'd post something from the road. Thanks to Abby's tip, I took some extra time in New York this afternoon before catching my train at Grand Central to check out an exhibition at the NYPL's central building, just a couple of blocks away. Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers 1570-1900 showcases graphic works made by women using traditionally male techniques such as woodcuts, wood engravings, etching, and lithography (some of which are techniques we'll see in our field trip to the Fisher Library next week). Though I've been studying print culture for years, I had no idea there were this many women engravers, illustrators, and printmakers during the early modern period and 18th century. It was something to see two full gallery spaces of their work, stretching nearly the width of the building. Sometimes an exhibition can do far more than an article or book to call attention to people and work that's been sidelined in the standard historical narratives. The idea that technologies may be gendered (and re-gendered differently, for different reasons) is also something to think about as we consider the production of ebooks, video games, and other artifacts built out of code.

Another aspect of this exhibition that might be of interest to the class is the set of blog posts that the curators have been doing for it: . The library-based blog, curated by library staff themselves, has become an important form of outreach and also, in the right hands, an engaging form of scholarly writing that didn't really exist prior to the rise of the blog itself. (Maybe in exhibition catalogues, but those obviously aren't as accessible if they're only in print.) The NYPL has particularly strong digital outreach, and if you look closely at how they construct their posts, you may see one of the reasons that I set the blogging assignment for this course. It's a genre that's worth adding to one's communication skillset, and I've been enjoying reading the blog posts from this class so far.

Anyway, it's a given that anyone in this class who visits New York City should make time for the NYPL building at 42nd and 5th. Aside from the Ghostbusters connection, it's remarkable that one can just walk in off the streets of one of the world's biggest, most expensive cities and -- after a quick security check -- look at the Gutenberg bible on display or call up some books in one of the world's most iconic reading rooms, all without paying a cent (well, you need a library card to call up books) and while remaining in a public space.

I'll be posting next week's blogging question before the usual Friday deadline, so keep an eye on this space.

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