Wednesday, December 9, 2020

"Bookishness"

New from Columbia University Press: Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age (Literature Now) by Jessica Pressman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Twenty-first-century culture is obsessed with books. In a time when many voices have joined to predict the death of print, books continue to resurface in new and unexpected ways. From the proliferation of “shelfies” to Jane Austen–themed leggings and from decorative pillows printed with beloved book covers to bookwork sculptures exhibited in prestigious collections, books are everywhere and are not just for reading. Writers have caught up with this trend: many contemporary novels depict books as central characters or fetishize paper and print thematically and formally.

In Bookishness, Jessica Pressman examines the new status of the book as object and symbol. She explores the rise of “bookishness” as an identity and an aesthetic strategy that proliferates from store-window d├ęcor to experimental writing. Ranging from literature to kitsch objects, stop-motion animation films to book design, Pressman considers the multivalent meanings of books in contemporary culture. Books can represent shelter from—or a weapon against—the dangers of the digital; they can act as memorials and express a sense of loss. Examining the works of writers such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Jennifer Egan, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Leanne Shapton, Pressman illuminates the status of the book as a fetish object and its significance for understanding contemporary fakery. Bringing together media studies, book history, and literary criticism, Bookishness explains how books still give meaning to our lives in a digital age.
Visit Jessica Pressman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue