Talk: Johanna Drucker 'Reading Matters'

02 December 2021

Artist, writer and academic Johanna Drucker joins Dr Lisa Godson in conversation on the materiality of textual objects in social life.

Engagement with the physical aspects of written language are part of the larger interaction we have with the made world. Habits of reading blind us to that made-ness and to the ways basic features of scale, size, materials, and other aspects of texts inscribe embodiment, and with it, the asymmetries of power that are part of social relations. By looking at the often overlooked “ergonomics” of textual production and reading as a set of positioning strategies, this talk asks how the materiality of textual objects participates in social life across a range of modes of address. How, in effect, does a written text position its reader through physical as well as textual strategies? Given the diversity of reading positions and demographic identities, this talk argues that this aspect of textual materiality matters in all kinds of ways.

Johanna Drucker is the Breslauer Professor and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. She has published and lectured widely on topics related to history of writing, graphical texts and knowledge production, visualization and digital humanities. She is also known for her work as a book artist and visual poet. Recent titles include: Iliazd: Meta-biography of a Modernist (2020), Visualization and Interpretation (2020), The Digital Humanities Coursebook (2020), and the forthcoming Inventing the Alphabet (2022). In collaboration with artist Susan Bee, she also recently published Off-World Fairy Tales (2020).

This event took place as part of Dublin Art Book Fair 2021: Manual, sponsored by Henry J Lyons and supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.