November 30, 2011
4:30 Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136A)
David Brewer’s Wednesday, November 30th lecture is titled “The Tactility of Authorial Names.” A reception will follow. David’s abstract is below.
My title might seem an oxymoron. After all, authorial names are proper nouns, and so whatever sensory appeal they might have would seem like it would have to be aural (if the names are spoken) and/or visual (if they’re read). But tactile? We don’t ordinarily think of names as something which we can stroke or jab or otherwise have literally at our fingertips. Nonetheless, I’d like to suggest that there are important ways in which authorial names were tactile in the eighteenth century, and that grasping this tactility, as it were, can help us better understand both the centrality and the peculiarity of those beings who were constitutive of what Samuel Johnson famously termed “The Age of Authors.” And in the process of reconstructing this phenomenon, I’d like to suggest, we can also gain a new perspective on the limitations, as well as the advantages, of the recent shift of many kinds of literary historical research toward digital archives.