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The Medieval Book Then and Now

Duplicators: the DIY Ethic and DIY Aesthetics in C20-21 Lit

Prof. Adam Hammond (Dept. of English), Winter 2020, Wednesdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm

Virginia Woolf devotes much of Three Guineas to the question of how to achieve “intellectual liberty” — and comes to an eminently practical conclusion: publish your own work. In what is perhaps the earliest formulation of the “DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Ethic,” she positions “the private printing press,” “typewriters,” and “duplicators” as “cheap and so far unforbidden instruments” by which one can bypass “the pressure of boards and editors” and thus “speak [one’s] own mind.” This course employs the methods of Book History, Periodical Studies, and Science and Technology Studies to explore the literary impact of “duplicators” in key moments of twentieth and twenty-first century Anglo-American literature. Focusing on early-twentieth century modernism (printed little magazines like The Egoist and Fire!! and independent presses like Woolf’s Hogarth), mid-century New York School poetry (mimeographed journals like C, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, and The Floating Bear), riot grrrl (photocopied zines like Bikini Kill and Girl Germs), and independent videogames (made in Twine, Source, and Unity), we will investigate the relationship between the material, technological, and social conditions that enable inexpensive self-publication and the forms of aesthetic expression and social engagement that they afford.

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