Textual Conditions 2005

English 774 / Comparative Literature 622
Charles Bernstein
Spring 2005
Mondays at Noon, Rm. 111, CPCW

charles.bernstein @
office hours: Wednesdays 1-3 or by appointment

What are the implications -- for art, knowledge, communication, research, and scholarship -- of the digitalization of books, images, and recordings, now underway? Keeping this question in mind, the Textual Conditions seminar will look at the history of language reproduction technologies from the alphabet to the printing press to the phonograph and radio.

Requirements: Weekly short response paper, posted on the Textual Conditions web log; one or more longer responses, to be presented in class. Final paper or experimental edition or project (projects using new media --audio, web-based, digital -- are welcome).

Please post responses and additional comments on the seminar reading or classes on our web log (address to be provided in class).

Core Texts
available at Penn Book Center
Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux and Neil Fraistat, eds., Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print
Charles Bernstein, ed., Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word
Johanna Drucker,
The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination (o/p: on reserve or order used via web)
______ The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art
Georges Jean, Writing: The Story of Alphabets and Scripts
Eric Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write
Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
Jerome McGann, The Textual Condition



Library Reserve:
Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination
Johanna Drucker, Figuring the Word
Jerome Rothenberg and Steve Clay, eds., A Book of the Book (one additional copy in circulation and another in the rare books collection)

Further resources: Introduction to Electronic Literature (to be intergrated into this syllabus)


01. (Jan. 10) Introduction
Prehistory / Further Research
Henri Breuil, Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art.
Andre Leroi-Gourhan, Treasures of Prehistoric Art.
______, The Dawn of European Art : An Introduction to Paleolithic Cave Painting.
Georges Bataille, Lascaux; or, the Birth of Art: Prehistoric Painting.
The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-D'Arc
Hand prints from Castillo, Spain (Penn only access)
Virtual Lascaux (c15,000bce): proto-icon (and context); red dots; inscription; leaping cow (Penn only)
Engraved Petroglyphs from Lianyungan (c.3000bce) (Penn only);
Painted petroglyphs from Cangyuan, second image (Penn only)
Rock Art in China: major site (note: essay on petroglyphs and writing)
North American rock art site

2. (Jan. 24) The Alphabetic Labyrinth
Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination
Georges Jean, Writing: The Story of Alphabets and Scripts (to p. 128)
Drucker and Jerome McGann, "Images as the Text: Pictographs and Pictographic Logic"
seminar response: Benjy Kahan on Q
Further Reading:
[See Drucker bibliography for further reading]
Jean-Francoise Billeter, from The Chinese Art of Writing in Book of the Book
Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, ed., The World's Writing Systems, ed.
I. J. Gelb, A Study of Writing: The Foundations of Grammatology (1952)
Henri-Jean Martin, History and Power of Writing
Andrew Robinson, The Story of Language
Charles Lock, "Petroglyphs in and of perspective," Semiotica 100-2/4, 405-420 (1994); absract
Jean Starobinski, Les mots sous les mots (1971i): on Saussure and hyopgrams
; see also Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Philosophy through the Looking Glass & his discussion of this as well as Wolfson & Roussel
Michel Leiris, tr. Lydia Davis, "Alphabet" in Rules of the Game

3. (Jan. 31) Havelock and the Art of Immemorability
Eric Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write
Charles Bernstein, "The Art of Immemorability" (from the Book of the Book)
Media History Project, including Media Time Line
From Book of the Book:
Henry Munn, "Writing in the Imagination of the Oral Poet"
Dennis Tedlock, "Towards a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability"
H. J. Chaytor, From Script to Print: an Introduction to Medieval Literature (1945)
Havelock, Preface to Plato
Havelock, "The Alphabetic Mind: A Gift of Greece to the Modern World" (
"The Preliteracy of the Greeks. " New Literary History, Vol. 8, No. 3, Oral Cultures and Oral Performances. (Spring, 1977), pp. 369-391 (JSTOR)
Gregory Nagy, Poetry as Performance
Walter Ong, The Presence of the Word
Paul Saenger, Space between Words: the Origins of Silent Reading
The Treaty of Waitangi; D.F. McKenzie, Oral Culture, Literacy and Print: Early New Zealand: The
Treaty of Waitangi
(Victoria University Press/Turnbull Library, 1985)
Read to Me (teenage mothers): video, web site
Franz Kafka, The Penal Colony
The Internet Sacred Text Archive
Kalevala (first written version of national "oral"/"folk" epic, 1835); Kalevala in English

4. (Feb. 7) Jerome McGann
The Textual Condition
"Prologue" to Reimagining Textuality
"Radiant Textuality" essay
Rossetti archive
Charles Bernstein, "McGann Agonist"
Radiant Textuality
(on reserve)
A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism
Further Reading:
Romantic Ideology
"Texts in N-Dimensions and Interpretation in a New Key" (pdf of essay)
The Drucker/McGann "Ivanhoe Game" (beta version)
Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism

2.01 Materiality's of Communication
Ludwig Pfeiffer, Hans U. Gumbrech, eds. Materialities of Communication
Charles Olson: The Chiasma, or Lectures in the New Sciences of Man (1953), published as no.10 of Olson (Fall 1978); Proprioception (1959-62), in The Collected Prose of Charles Olson, and Pleistocene Man (1965), part of the series "A Curriculum for the Study of the Soul" (Olson recs. by Ben Friedlander)
Paleography and Codicology: Introductory Bibliography
Steve McCaffery and Jed Rasula, eds, Imagining Language
Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Philosophy through the Looking Glass
Christian Bok, Eunoia (and sound files at PennSound)
On Iconicity, with special reference the work of Max Nänny
George Bornstein, Material Modernism: the Politics of the Page (Cambridge, 2001)
Rebound: The American Poetry Book, ed. Michael Hinds and Stephen Matterson (Amsterdan and New York: Rodopi and Textxet #44, 2003)

5. (Feb. 14) Johanna Drucker

The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art
"Intimations of Immateriality": Graphical Form, Textual Sense, and the Electronic Environment" in Reimagining Textuality
(seminar responses: Janet Neigh on intersections between Johanna Drucker's creative books and her critical work & Erin Gautsche on Drucker's work on artists' books)
Drucker's books in Annenberg Rare Book & Ms Library
Figuring the Word(on reserve)
A Century of Artists' Books
Drucker interview by Matthew Kirschenbaum, PMC
7.3, 1997 (via Project Muse); or text only version for nonsubscribers
Drucker, "Digital Ontologies: The Ideality of Form in/and Code Storage--or--Can Graphesis Challenge Mathesis?," Leonardo 34:2, 2001 (via Project Muse)
Georges Jean, Writing, "Documents" section
Selected readings from Book of the Book:
I.: McCaffery/nichols, Keith Smith, Michael Davidson, Simon Cutts.
II: Derrida, Blanchot, Sieburth/Mallarmé on Le Livre, Borges, Lawrence Upton
III. Drucker, "The Artist's Book as Idea and Form" in Book of the Book
Further Reading:
Bernstein, review of The Visible Word, Modernism/modernity, 2:3, 1995 (via Project Muse)
Discovering Artists Books
Clay and Rodney Phillips, ed., A Secret Location on the Lower East Side
Jerome Rothenberg and David Guss, eds., The Book: Spiritual Instrument
Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book : Print and Knowledge in the Making (1998); "10 Things You Didn't Know about Your Books"
Charles Alexander, ed., Talking the Boundless Book: Art, Language, and the Book Arts

6. (Feb. 21) Poetry Plastique
Critical Approaches:
Johanna Drucker and Marjorie Perloff in Close Listening
Jay Sanders and Charles Bernstein, ed. Poetry Plastique
Visual Works (continued from preceding week):
Apollinaire, Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916 (1918)
(seminar presentation: Jane Malcolm)
Stephan Mallarmé
Mayakovsky/Burliuk (
cf: Liabov Popova (1889-1924)
Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956)

seminar respondent: Julie Brown

Further Reading:
from The Book of the Book:
Marjorie Perloff from The Futurist Moment and Sonja Delauney / Blaise Cendrars, "The Transiberian"; Duchamp, Ernst, Finlay, Jess, Kaprow, Schneemann, and Cayley on Xu Bing;
Tom Phillips and Tom Vogler

Critical Approaches:
Willard Bohn, The Aesthetics of Visual Poetry
Willard Bohn, Apollinaire, Visual Poetry, and Art Criticism
Betty Bright, No Longer Innocent: Book Art in America 1960-1980
Johanna Drucker, A Century of Artists' Books
Dick Higgins, Pattern Poems
K. David Jackson, Eric Vos, and Johanna Drucker, eds., Experimental - Visual - Concrete: Avant-Garde Poetry Since the 1960s,
Gerald Janecek, Zaum: The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism (chapter 9)
____The Look of Russian Literature
Eduardo Kac's essay on holographic poetry
Velimir Khlebnikov, Collected Writings
Mary Ellen Solt on Brazillian Concrete Poetry
Herbert Spencer, The Liberated Page
Henry Sayre, The Visual Text of William Carlos Williams
Henry Sayre, Robert Frank, eds. The Line in Postmodern Poetry, esp.: "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Lines, Fraser, and Hubert
Emmett Williams, ed. Anthology of Concrete Poetry
Milton Kolonsky, ed. Talking Pictures
Concrete Poetry Web Index by Michael P. Garofalo

Some Concete poems
Gallery of Visual Poetry (Clemente Padin)
Gallery of Concrete Poetry (Clemente Padin)

7. (Feb. 28) Sound Poetry / Poetry and Sound
Steve McCaffery in Close Listening
Sound Works:
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), "Ur Sonota" at Ubu: both sound file and score
Hugo Ball (1886-1927), "Karawane" (1916) text and sound file at Ubu (along with other Ball sound files)
Steve McCaffery, Carnival: sight and sound (see IV. items 4 & 5, text and sound)
Christian Bok: sound poems at UBU. Note Bok at KWH April 20 at 3pm & also at Temple
Caroline Bergvall's "About Face" note Bergvall at KWH April 6 at 3pm
Henri Chopin, Fresque de l'Impalapable voix (1990)
François Dufrêne, "Batteries vocales, Crirythme" (1958)
Christian Prigent, "Orgasm" (1998)
seminar response by Marie Mathiesen (on McLuhan)

Further Listening:

EPC Sound Poetry Index
Critical Works
Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT, 2001)

7.01 The Medium if not the Messenger is not yet the Masseuse Neither/Or
Marshall McLuhan, The Guttenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man
_____, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man : pdf
McLuhan Studies journal; see esp. essay on Pound/McLuhan correspondence and Barrelli on Blake
1969 Playboy interview
The Medium Is the Message: Part One & Part Two (password required: log on and then try link again)
Richard Cavell, McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography

(March 14) [Philosophical Interlude]
Walter Benjamin: History, Language, &
Walter Benjamin, Five essays:
"On Language as Such and the Language of Man" (1916): pdf (and also pdf of "Doctrine of the Similar"
"Doctrine of the Similar" (1933): Word version
"The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproduction"(1935-1938) ["Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit"(Harry Zohn translation from Illuminations):
pdf file of essay; but recommended: new translaton of 2d version of the essay in Harvard edttion, vol. 3). Unrestricted web version here.
"The Task of the Translator,"(1923)
"On the Concept of History": Lloyd Spencer translation & commentary,   Dennis Redmond translation,
  Thesis IX, tr. Harry Zohn and Richard Sieburth, with Klee "New Angel" image
Further reading: "Doctine of Similarity" in Shadowtime (info on opera with music by Brian Ferneyhough, libretto by Charles Bernstein)
Seminar responses: Brian Unger and Rebecca Sheehan

8.02 Medium/Media/Paratext
Clement Greenberg, Stanley Cavell, Michael Fried, on the idea of a medium.

Bernstein: "Play It Again, Pac Man" and "I Don't Take Voice Mail"
Hans Magnus Enzenberger, "Constituents of a theory of media"
Gerard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation
Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis
Harold Innis, The Bias of Cmmunication (1951)
Steve McCaffery, Prior to Meaning: the Protosemantic and Poetics
K. Ludwig Pfeiffe and Hans U. Gumbrecht, eds., Materialities of Communication
M. B. Parker, Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West
Susan Vanderborg, Paratextual Communities: American Avant-Garde Poetry Since 1950

Michael Fried, "Art and Objecthood"
Charles Sanders Peirce, Symbol, Icon, Index

9. (March 21) Media and Its Dis(k)ontents: The Poetics of Grammaphony
Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
--skip film--
Frank Lambert, Experimental Talking Clock (1878)
Rudyard Kipling's poem The Absent-Minded Beggar as read by Harry Spencer (1900). More info at Tinfoil.Com

Media History Project
Recording Technology History
& here also
seminar response: Scott Enderle on history of sound recording

Jed Rasula in Close Listening
Adelaide Morris, ed., Sound States: Innovative Poetics and Acoustical Technologies (University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
Jonathan Sterne, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke, 2003)
Darren Wershler-Henry The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting

Douglas Kahn and Gregory Whitehead, ed., Wireless Imagination: sound, radio and the avant-garde (MIT Press, 1992).
Allen S. Weiss, Experimental Sound and Radio (MIT, 2000)
Mary E. Hocks and Michelle R. Kendrick, ed., Word and Image in the Age of New Media
n Reed, Hart Crane's Victrola, Modernism/Modernity 7.1 (2000) 99-125
Yopie Prins, Voice Inverse, Victorian Poetry 42.1 (2004) (via Project Muse)
Robert Johnson – "Phonograph Blues"

10. (March 28) Close Listening / PennSound
Close Listening: Bernstein, Middleton
, Nick Piombino, Susan Stewart
PennSound archive

Close Listening:
Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe
see bibliography in Close Listening for many further references, esp. Reuven Tsur, What Makes Sound Patterns Expressive and Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis.
Reuven Tsur's web pages
Peter Middleton, "How to Read a Reading of a Written Poem" Oral Literature 20:1, 2005, via Project Muse

10.x. Electronic Pies in the Poetry Skies: The Late Age of Print, Listservs and Texual Communities, & the Coming Digital Present
Close Listening: Perelman, Damon, Thomas, Silliman, Schultz
Bernstein, Electronic Pies in the Poetry Skies
, ed. Joel Kuszai (e-version; aslo avail. as a Roof Book)

11. (April 4) Reimagining Textuality
Reimagining Texutality
Section 1: David Greetham, Deniel Ferrer, Joseph Grigley, Rachel DuPlessis
Section 3: Tim Hunt, Henry Schwartz, Stuart Moulthoup, Gregory Ulmer
seminar response to Grigley by Patrick Farrell
Further Reading

Grigley's Textualterity (1995)

12. (April 11) Translating Media: Transcription, Conversion, Materiality
Reimagining Textuality: From section two -- Morris Eaves, Mary Ann Caws, Bernstein
Hayles, N. Katherine, "Translating Media: Why We Should Rethink Textuality"
          The Yale Journal of Criticism, 16:2, 2003 (via Project Muse)
Drucker, "Theory as Praxis: The Poetics of Electronic Textuality,"
          Modernism/modernity, 9:4, 2002 (via Project Muse)
Louis Cabri, "Discursive Events in the Electronic Archive of Modern and Postmodern Poetry" (2004)
Alan Liu, "Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse" from Critical Inquiry (31:1, 2004) [UPenn library e-resources]
Roger Chartier, "Languages, Books, and Reading from the Printed Word to the Digital Text" from Critical Inquiry (31:1, 2004) [UPenn library e-resources]
response by Aliki Caloyeras
further readings below under "Digital Poetics"
Some Examples of Editions
Projects at the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image at UPenn Library
UVA Blake
and the Blake Digital Text Project
& in Book of the Book: Blake and Erdman on Blake

Rosetti Archive
Romantic Circles editions

"The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Bec'irbey" (OralTradition.Com)
Early American Digital Archives (Ralph Bauer)
Jason Nelson: virtual books; another example
JSTOR, Project Muse, LION (via Penn library electronic resources)
/ubu editions
EPC Editions (beta version)
bp nichol edition at Coach HouseColumbia University Press Gutenberg Editions (or search library e-resources)
University of Chicago Bibliovault
Bodleian Library (Oxford) Illuminated Ms
Supreme Court transcription and audio at Oyez & transcript only
EPC author pages
British Library: Turning the Pages and more Turning the Pages
Further Reading:
John Byron, The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002)

Matt Kirschenbaum on "Beyond the Desktop"
Association for Computers and the Humanties

13. (April 18) Last Class
Presentation of projects & papers and, as time permits, continuing discussion.

Leonardo issue ed. Tim Peterson

>>Preview -- to be discussed in Fall 2005 seminar>>
Digital Poetics

Critical Approaches to Digital Poetics and Digital Media (recent)
Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins, 1997)
____, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

_____ See Nick Montfort's response to Aarseth & follow response to Hayles and Kirchenbaum)
Loss Glazier: Digital Poetics
____ (with Ken Sherwood) LINEbreak interview
____ "Poetics of the Digital Text"
Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines
Matt Kirschenbaum, The Cult of Print" on Sven Birkerts (also via Project Muse)
_____ "Lines for a Virtual Typography" (dissertation; e-mail author for password)
_____ "What Electronic Texts Are Made of",
"Machine Visions: Towards a Poetics of Artificial Intelligence"
Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media
_____, "Database as Genre of New Media"
A bibliography of somewhat earlier works on digital poetics and hypetextuality
Bruce Andrews, Electronic Poetics
Charles Bernstein, An Mosaic for Convergence and "Play It Again, Pac Man" (or via Project Muse)
Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media (see review by Matt Kirschenbaum )
Kurt Brereton, "CyberPoetics of Typography" (from Jacket #1)
Issa Clubb, "on the ghost in the machine: the font as spiritual medium in CD-ROM poetry design"
Anna Everett and John T. Caldwell, New Media: Theories and Practices of Digitextuality (Routledge, 2004)
Michael Joyce, "Notes Toward an Unwritten Non-Linear Electronic Text, 'The Ends of Print Culture'" (also via Project Muse)
Bill Marsh, "Reading Time: For a Poetics of Hypermedia Writing" (from Currents in Electronic Literary)
Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader (MIT, 2003); see Matt Kirschenbaum's review

Jim Andrews, "On Lionel Kearns"; Geoff Huff on this work
____, “Nio”; other Jim Anrews at VizPo.Com
Caroline Bergvall, Ambient Fish
Loss Glazier, Terriorio Libre
___ , "Cog"
____, "Costa"
Eduardo Kac, "Holopoetry" (holographic poems), "Letter" (still)
Brian Kim Stefans, The Dreamlife of Poetry; see also Stefans’s digital picks.
John Cayley, Various works at home page 
Jennifer Ley, see for example “Amniotic Meaner”
Leevi Lehto, "When a Car Gets Into an Accident"
Kenneth Goldsmith, “Fidget”
Talan Memmott, Lexia to Perplexia
Jim Rosenberg's “Diagram Series” see also home page
André Vallias

Digital Poetry pages at EPC .
InFlect: A Journal of Multimedia Writing
Brazillian Digital Poetry Collection

Voice, Text, Hypertext: Emerging Practices in Textual Studies ed Raimonda Modiano, Leroy F. Searle, Peter L. Shillingsburg
2004, University of Wisconsin Press

Scripting Reading Motions The Codex and the Computer as Self-Reflexive Machines By Manuel Portela MIT 2013




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