Not only does the library have a long and complex history and politics, but it has an ambivalent presence in Western culture – both a site of positive knowledge and a site of error, confusion, and loss. Nevertheless, in literary studies and in the humanities, including book history, the figure of the library remains in many senses under-researched. This collection brings together established and up-and-coming researchers from a number of practices – literary and cultural studies, gender studies, book history, philosophy, visual culture, and contemporary art –with an effective historical sweep ranging from the time of Sumer to the present day.
In the context of the rise of archive studies, this book attends specifically and meta-critically to the figure of the library as a particular archival form, considering the traits that constitute (or fail to constitute) the library as institution or idea, and questions its relations to other accumulative modes, such as the archive in its traditional sense, the museum, or the filmic or digital archive. Across their diversity, and in addition to their international standard of research and writing, each chapter is unified by commitment to analyzing the complex cultural politics of the library form.
Introduction: Unpacking the Library Sas Mays 1. Index Geoffrey Bennington 2. ‘Under a heap of dust they buried lye, Within a vault of some small Library’: Margaret Cavendish and the Gendered Space of the Seventeenth-Century Library Emily Bowles 3. Outside the Archive: the Image of the Library in Hitchcock Tom Cohen 4. Reading in the Library of Catastrophe: W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn Richard Crownshaw 5. Agendas and Aesthetics in the Transformations of the Codex in Early Modern England Elizabeth Evenden 6. Magical Values in Recent Romances of the Archive Suzanne Keen 7. Classifying Fictions: Libraries and Information Sciences and the Practice of Complete Reading Michelle Kelly 8. Autobiobibliographies: for Lovers of Libraries Martin McQuillan 9. ‘That library of uncatalogued pleasure’: Queerness, Desire & the Archive in Contemporary Gay Fiction Kaye Mitchell 10. Cataloguing Architecture: the Library of the Architect Andrew Peckham 11. Reading Folk Archive: on the Utopian Dimension of the Artists’ Book Dan Smith 12. The Archive and the Library in V.Y. Mudimbe’s The Rift Wendy W. Walters 13. Digital Libraries and Fantasies of Totality Andrew White 14. The Archive, the Event, and the Impression Simon Morgan Wortham