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Interacting with Print

Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation

A thorough rethinking of a field deserves to take a shape that is in itself new. Interacting with Print delivers on this premise, reworking the history of print through a unique effort in authorial collaboration. The book itself is not a typical monograph—rather, it is a “multigraph,” the collective work of twenty-two scholars who together have assembled an alphabetically arranged tour of key concepts for the study of print culture, from Anthologies and Binding to Publicity and Taste.
Each entry builds on its term in order to resituate print and book history within a broader media ecology throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The central theme is interactivity, in three senses: people interacting with print; print interacting with the non-print media that it has long been thought, erroneously, to have displaced; and people interacting with each other through print. The resulting book will introduce new energy to the field of print studies and lead to considerable new avenues of investigation.

416 pages | 16 color plates, 49 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2018

Art: Art--General Studies

History: History of Ideas

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Media Studies

Rhetoric and Communication


"What makes this an impressive production is the way in which it manages to combine powerful argument with detailed illustration. It is persuasive in its key aims. . . . Interacting with Print aims to demonstrate all the ways in which reading is interactive. At one level, it is ingenious that the innovations of its own genre force its readers to rethink the basics of the academic book. At another, more significant level, the lucidity of its observations and illustrations show us, brilliantly, the many different ways in which books make meaning."

Times Higher Education

"Interacting with Print refutes the assumption that print is static and less interactive than other media. . . .Collaborations on the scale of Interacting with Print might be one direction for scholarship in the future, but they also call upon habits ingrained in the past, both mundane and profound."

Perspectives on History

“One of the pleasures of this collaborative work . . . is its surprising readability. The book is meaty, consistent, vigorous, and free of jargon. . . . Innovative . . . . Highly recommended.” 


"Interacting with Print. . . is a remarkable achievement both its ambition and execution and serves as a model for future scholarship in the arts and humanities. . . . Accessible yet scholarly, this book is a delight to read and a testament that print culture still remains."


Interacting with Print reminds us of print’s capacity to disrupt as well as produce forms of allegiance—to be an agent of instability as well as of standardization. The essays comprising this book are separately and together a pleasure to read. They are also unfailingly edifying. Collectively, the authors propose a new and persuasive account of how readers and viewers did things with print artifacts, both textual and visual, and the emphasis on interaction and intermediality that links these chapters complicates, to wonderful effect, prior works of book and cultural history."

Deidre Lynch, Harvard University

“In focusing on a memorable set of keywords, the authors in this interdisciplinary collective have blended their voices—and their many areas of expertise—to offer an array of inspiring new perspectives on printing in the complex media ecology of 18th- and 19th-century Europe. Interacting with Print is excitingly innovative and productive in both form and content.”

Ann M. Blair, Harvard University

“Brimming with fresh ideas and international in scope, Interacting with Print challenges received ideas about what print culture was--for instance, that it was equivalent to national culture, or that its primary relationships were those between author and reader or reader and book. The collaborators become both authors and editors at once as they excavate the relation of print to other media, people to print, and social actors to one another, and we find a many-faceted picture of print’s interactive reach in a volume that vividly redraws the map of its material and intellectual history.  The result is a textual and visual treat of collaborative scholarship, often exciting in the way it pushes the boundaries of media history.”

Jon Klancher, Carnegie Mellon University

"Among the strengths of the Multigraph Collective is the ability to think across media combining expertise in different disciplines in a shared interdisciplinary practice. From Mary Delany’s paper mosaics to bindings inlaid with an oil painting framed byopals, or twigs, manuscripts and prints pasted into the fly-leaves of a copy of Thomas Gray’s poems, as well as visual satires, paintings, and extra-illustrated prints, the Multigraph Collective’s carefully-chosen and beautifully illustrated objects resist streamlining and subsuming under disciplinary histories of individual arts, showing what is lost by treating print from within a single discipline."

Luisa Cale | Oxford Art Journal

"Interacting with Print revises three main premises of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century book scholarship. First, non-print media such as manuscripts, letters, salon conversations, and forms of oral performance were not anachronistic, contentious, or asocial genres (p. 5), but media that thrived and interacted with print in productive ways. The Multigraph Collective also does not confine the definition of ‘print’ to letterpress, but includes the graphic and the visual in broadsides, banknotes, gift books, and catalogs.Finally, it questions the traditional notion that print embodied a national sensibility, and argues that print culture emerged in a broader ‘international context of translation, imitation, reprinting, and cultural cross-fertilization’(p. 5). Interacting with Print marks a crystallizing counterpoint to traditional book history and bibliography."

The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface; or, What Is a Multigraph?
1.         Advertising
2.         Anthologies
3.         Binding
4.         Catalogs
5.         Conversations
6.         Disruptions
7.         Engraving
8.         Ephemerality
9.         Frontispieces
10.       Index
11.       Letters
12.       Manuscript
13.       Marking
14.       Paper
15.       Proliferation
16.       Spacing
17.       Stages
18.       Thickening
Works Cited
About the Multigraph Collective

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