The “Problematics of Culture and Theory” Seminar
held by the School of English at Aristotle University
will be hosting an online talk by Dr Manuel Portela,
Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (English) at the University of Coimbra,
on Thursday, May 4th, at 15.00-16.30.
The title of the online talk is:
“Bibliographic Codes and Reading Frames in B.S. Johnson's Novels”
The talk will take place via the Zoom platform. All those interested in attending via zoom, please submit the relevant registration form. The zoom link details for the event will be sent by email on the eve of the talk to all those who have registered for online participation.
Problematics Seminar Coordinators:
Dr L.E. Roupakia (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Ε. Botonaki (email@example.com)
This talk examines the typographic and bibliographic embodiment of narrative in B.S. Johnson’s novels. My analysis considers the feedback between bibliographic and narrative elements in The Unfortunates (1969) and House Mother Normal (1971). I argue that B.S. Johnson uses formal features of page layout and codex structure both as expressions of narrative content and as reading frames. The challenges of giving form to narrative from the point of view of the narrating voices (and from the point of view of the writer) are ergonomically experienced by readers through their material engagement with the bibliographic codes of the novels. Johnson’s experimentation with book forms creates a feedback loop between narrativity and printness that makes readers aware of their constrained participation in the act of constructing their own reading. The writing problem of giving sense to lived experience through the particular medium of the print novel is thus reenacted in this cognitive framing of the act of reading.
GUEST SPEAKER BIO
Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (English) at the University of Coimbra. His research focuses on digital critical editing, electronic literature, and comparative media studies. Those parallel interests are reflected in Scripting Reading Motions: The Codex and the Computer as Self-Reflexive Machines (MIT Press, 2013) and Literary Simulation and the Digital Humanities: Reading, Editing, Writing (Bloomsbury, 2022), in the PhD Programme in Materialities of Literature (cofounder and director), and in the LdoD Archive: Collaborative Digital Archive of the Book of Disquiet (2017-2023), an experimental textual environment. He has also worked as theatre director, cultural programmer, curator, and translator.