Welcome! You may have navigator here because I bothered you enough on Facebook or Twitter; or maybe you saw posters of King Arthur hanging up in coffeeshops and bookstores. Regardless, thanks for visiting! Browse around, post some stuff so that we can generate some conversation, or, if you don’t have the time currently, take this short survey about reading!
I’ve had some people come up to me and say “I looked at your site, but I don’t know what to do with it. How do I use it?”
Sorry for the confusion! I guess I have neglected the wise words of Spongebob Squarepants: “K.I.S.S.–Keep It Simple Stupid!” What I’d love to hear about from you is just what is going through your mind when you’re reading any given text. What about the physical make-up of a book is it that appeals to you so much that you feel compelled to read it? Why do you think that is?
Hopefully this clears things about a bit; and thanks for pointing it out to me! It’s ironic that while I’m trying to spark a discussion about casual reading, I have made things anything-but-casual
READ ON! (Extended About)
One who writes is an author. They think about something, put a draft to paper, edit (sometimes), and create final copies. If they’re lucky, they get published to some extent. That text, in an array of different formats, is picked up by one who reads: a reader.
Easy, yes? Sure. That’s the most basic relationship between author and reader. But it doesn’t discuss the nuances and possible variations within the author-reader relationship. Most critical readers have considered the ideas of primary authorship, reader-response and deconstructionist criticism. One who writes is an author; but once that author’s product has been shared, where does the ownership of the text lie? What do we do with the text? Better yet, why do we make text? It could be to put forth an idea as a means of sharing or as a self-promoting claim. But it could also be for mere entertainment value. There are modes of writing (novels, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, etc.) and then there is writing ABOUT writing. Why this extension? Well, perhaps in part because it demonstrates our desire and ability to connect on some level of critical discussion. Today, the degree to which all writing is critical is debatable (and surely it was hundreds or thousands of years ago), but the fact remains that we write, edit, rework ideas, pass them around, comment upon each others work.
What I’m interested in aside from what’s just been stated, is the ways in which textual presentation plays a role in written communication. We usually wouldn’t call a physical line of text “art.” Typically we associate the ideas and underlying philosophy as the “art.” (Consider things like the discussions of Aristotle’s Poetics and similar works). But most texts have a deliberate format. Why? What are the considerations involved? These are amongst some of the many questions asked and addressed in my Technology of Texts class at Northeastern University; but I am curious what others–not ONLY English majors–might have to say about this. They read too! And they’re an informed group! And their group is much larger than the smaller community of English students! (And these groups are not so separate as I am making them seem).
I live in Boston, and people here are both qualified and, hopefully, interested in joining in on this discussion. So I’ve been going around to local coffee shops, libraries, and other “gathering” locations posting compelling displays to get this discussion started. The posts are mostly pictures of different copies of a work of literature of some sort with a few quick, thought-provoking questions about how the versions differ aside from just appearance. What is the “art” in each? And the posts have links to this site and the corresponding Twitter handle: @whichtextswork. My hope is that the discussion will spread, and that the site will gain a bit of popularity, generating some intriguing discussion that people can borrow when they next sit down to read, whatever their intention may be.
So, as the Twitter handle suggests: what texts work? Do the different manifestations of a single text carry different meanings? How different? Does the author have control over this? Can we “change” the author by changing the format? And why is it important to consider all this? The last is a question that I should be answering, seeing as I’ve created this project for my own curiosity; but it’s one that I think we should all keep with us while we read. Read through some of the texts I’ve suggested on the “Texts to Work With” page, post to the Blog, share with your friends, and let’s get talkin’!