ATG Book of the Week: From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century

by | May 13, 2013 | 0 comments

Title: From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century
Editor: Anouk Lang
Cloth: 978-1-55849-952-2, $80
Paper:978-1-55849-953-9, $28.95
Imprint: Amhurst: Univ. of Massachusetts, 2012


“The start of the twenty-first century has brought with it a rich variety of ways in which readers can connect with one another, access texts, and make sense of what they are reading. At the same time, new technologies have also opened up exciting possibilities for scholars of reading and reception in offering them unprecedented amounts of data on reading practices, book buying patterns, and book collecting habits.

In From Codex to Hypertext, scholars from multiple disciplines engage with both of these strands. This volume includes essays that consider how changes such as the mounting ubiquity of digital technology and the globalization of structures of publication and book distribution are shaping the way readers participate in the encoding and decoding of textual meaning. Contributors also examine how and why reading communities cohere in a range of contexts, including prisons, book clubs, networks of zinesters, state-funded programs designed to promote active citizenship, and online spaces devoted to sharing one’s tastes in books.

As concerns circulate in the media about the ways that reading—for so long anchored in print culture and the codex—is at risk of being irrevocably altered by technological shifts, this book insists on the importance of tracing the historical continuities that emerge between these reading practices and those of previous eras.

In addition to the volume editor, contributors include Daniel Allington, Bethan Benwell, Jin Feng, Ed Finn, Danielle Fuller, David S. Miall, Julian Pinder, Janice Radway, Julie Rak, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Megan Sweeney, Joan Bessman Taylor, Molly Abel Travis, and David Wright.”

 “Lang’s book–which, it must be said, is not intended for the casual reader–is heavily influenced by modern “reception studies,” an academic field that analyzes readers’ reactions to and interactions with texts. In essence, Lang and her contributors are interested in reading as a social practice. Not only do the essayists consider the inner workings of small-town book clubs to be as worthy of study as recommendation algorithms, they insist that understanding the interplay between the digital and the physical realms is essential to an accurate and holistic picture of the contemporary reader.”—Columbia Journalism Review


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