This week’s readings were an interesting mix of arugment, form, and content. In Melville’s “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maid,” he explores the settings of two very different forms of culture and production: the all-male club of the Temple Bar in London and the almost all-female run paper mill in New Englad–accessible only by a difficult mountain round by a place called the “Mad Maid’s Bellows-pipe” (375). These two short stories show two strikingly different places with strikingly different people but join together around production of ideas or the materials for ideas. What struck me the most in this text was the descriptions of the paper-mill and the mill workers.They are described as having a “compsutive pallors” and their life a “blank, raggy life” where “these white girls go to death” (381). This description (as well as the dichotomy between paradise and Tartaus) made me think about the grusome labor that goes into the physical materials that are so taken for granted by those who write legal briefs, or important infomration on them. How can we bring attention to differences like this in our own world today?
Senchyne’s “Rags Make Paper, Paper Makes Money” was by far one of my favorite readigns for today. While we have talked before about the use of linen rags to make paper, I enjoyed this investigation as it gave a historical account of the economy that developed around this fact. In particular, I enjoyed the multimodality of Senchyne’s writing, using different forms of writing and anecdotes to support his arugment. For example, I was struck by Senchyne’s discussion of the “visibility of these narrarives” (553) when it comes both to the presence of these narratives in public circulation and the visible characters they depict, the “rag pickers” or childern that performed this labor. In general, I kept thinking about labor throughout these peices, returning again to the idea: what are we missing when we think about media? Whose labor are we missing? IS this omission our fault or is it hidden away?
In a similar, but different vein, Mak brings attention in “How the Page Matters” to the page as a vital form in the development of artistic and intellectual traditions, tracing its development through history and different mediums. While some of the material Mak covers in this text was not new to me entirely, she frames it in a way that made me consider the significance of looking for overlap as a significant source of scholarship. One of the moments I particularly enjyed was where she writes, “the history of the page is one of overlapping materials, materials and means; the paginae of scrolls and codices have worked concurrently for millennia to organize information and faciliate the transmission of ideas, sometiems on papyrus, sometimes on parchment, and sometimes on paper” (15). This was an arugment that made me think of our previous readings and the thought of media replicating itself. How, then, are there (if ever) any innovations in print culture when it comes to the page? Additionally, how–like the replication of technologies of media–do the narratives about media proudction and labor also get replicated? How do omissions in these narratives also get replicated and why is this important? These are just some of the questions I’d like for us to discuss today.