Textual Distortion

Textual Distortion

Edited by Elaine Treharne, Greg Walker





The notion of what it means to "distort" a text is here explored through a rich variety of individual case studies.
"Distortion" is nearly always understood as negative. It can be defined as perversion, impairment, caricature, corruption, misrepresentation, or deviation. Unlike its close neighbour, "disruption", it remains resolutely associated with the undesirable, the lost, or the deceptive. Yet it is also part of a larger knowledge system, filling the gap between the authentic event and its experience; it has its own ethics and practice, and it is necessarily incorporated in all meaningful communication. Need it always be a negative phenomenon? How does distortion affect producers, transmitters and receivers of texts? Are we always obliged to acknowledge distortion? What effect does a distortive process have on the intentionality, materiality and functionality, not to say the cultural, intellectual and market value, of all textual objects?
The essays in this volume seek to address these questions,They range from the medieval through the early modern to contemporary periods and, throughout, deliberately challenge periodisation and the canonical. Topics treated include Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, Reformation documents and poems, Global Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary, Native American spiritual objects, and digital tools for re-envisioning textual relationships. From the written to the spoken, the inhabited object to the remediated, distortion is demonstrated to demand a rich and provocative mode of analysis.

Elaine Treharne is Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, Director of the Centre for Spatial and Textual Analysis, and Director of Stanford Technologies at Stanford University; Greg Walker is Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.

Contributors: Matthew Aiello, Emma Cayley, Aaron Kelly, Daeyeong (Dan) Kim, Sarah Ogilvie, Timothy Powell, Giovanni Scorcioni, Greg Walker, Claude Willan.


9 black and white illustrations
188 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Essays and Studies
Hardback, 9781843844792, November 2017
eBook, 9781787441538, November 2017
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004120, LIT004020
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Elaine Treharne
The Curious Production and Reconstruction of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 85 and 86 - Matthew Aiello
Through a glass darkly, or, rethinking medieval materiality: a tale of carpets, screens, and parchment - Emma Cayley
Distortion, Ideology, Time: Proletarian Aesthetics in the work of Lionel Britton - Aaron Kelly
Shakespeare and Korea: Mutual Remappings - Dan Kim
Dictionary Distortions - Sarah Ogilvie
Where Do Indigenous Origin Stories and Empowered Objects Fit into a Literary History of the American Continent? - Timothy Powell
Distortion in Textual Object Facsimile Production: a Liability or an Asset? - Giovanni Scorcionni
The Uncanny Reformation: Revenant Texts and Distorted Time in Henrician England - Greg Walker
The Presence of the Book - Claude Willan

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