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Richard Menke on Extracting Culture in the 1880s

Please join us on Thursday, November 20th at 5:15 pm for the second seminar in our year-long series on nineteenth-century knowledge organization practices and information culture:

Richard Menke on “Touchstones and Tit-Bits:Extracting Culture in the 1880s.”

How should print culture respond to a modern explosion of new sources of information and new modes of reading? In the 1880s, the answer seemed to lie in excerpting—from Matthew Arnold’s exalted poetic “touchstones” to George Newnes’s enthusiastically commonplace weekly newspaper Tit-Bits. The touchstone and the tit-bit turn older practices of excerpting into self-conscious ruling principles. Furthermore, the poetics of the cultural snippet shapes Arnold’s criticism and Newnes’s journalism in profound and peculiar ways. Reading touchstones alongside Tit-Bits suggests how a broader view of print cultures might enrich our sense of the history of literary theory, form, and value.

Contact Rachel Sagner Buurma (rbuurma at swarthmore dot edu) for a copy of the paper.

Richard Menke is an associate professor of English at the University of Georgia and the author of Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems (2008). His essays on literature, science, and media history have appeared in ELH, PMLA, Critical Inquiry, Victorian Studies, and elsewhere. He is at work on a book about the invention of media in late nineteenth-century writing.

We meet at the Center for the Humanities at Temple University on Temple’s main campus, Gladfelter Hall, 10th floor.