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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing

Speaking Volumes

Books with Histories

A fascinating catalog that analyzes books as historical objects.

Scholars increasingly recognize that the cultural and research value of books lies not just in their printed contents, but in their value as historical artifacts. An individual book can tell us many things about the ways books have been used, read, and regarded throughout the years.
Within these pages, you will find books damaged by bullets or graffiti, recovered from fire or water, or even disguised as completely different texts for protection in dangerous times. Marks of ownership—be it a rich treasure binding or a humble family inscription—shine a light on social history and literacy, while student doodles from the sixteenth century and a variety of pithy annotations give us a sense of readers through the ages.

Generously illustrated with examples from the early Middle Ages to the present day, Speaking Volumes presents a fascinating selection of books in both public and private collections whose individual histories tell surprising and illuminating stories, encouraging us to look at and appreciate books in new and non-traditional ways.

240 pages | 180 color plates | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4

Culture Studies

History: General History

Library Science and Publishing: Library Science

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter II: Insights from ownership
Chapter III: Notes on the side
Chapter IV Adding things in, and cutting them out
Chapter V: Outsides of books
Chapter VI: Accidents, incidents, and talismans
Chapter VII: A digital age
Further reading
Picture references

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