Read more about Writing as Material Practice: Substance, surface and medium

Writing as Material Practice: Substance, surface and medium

(1 review)

Kathryn Piquette, University of Pennsylvania

Copyright Year: 2013

ISBN 13: 9781909188242

Publisher: Ubiquity Press

Language: English

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Reviewed by Benjamin Nickodemus, Part-Time Professor of Theology, Concordia University, Portland on 5/21/18

This edited volume is a collection of 14 scholarly essays with an introduction and epilogue that are all around the central issue of writing as a material practice. Each essay is a distinct case study that explores this topic from different angles... read more

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. Introduction: Developing an approach to writing as material practice (Kathryn E. Piquette and Ruth D. Whitehouse)
  • Chapter 2. The Twisting Paths of Recall: Khipu (Andean cord notation) as artifact (Frank Salomon)
  • Chapter 3. Writing as Material Technology: Orientation within landscapes of the Classic Maya world (Sarah E. Jackson)
  • Chapter 4. Writing (and Reading) as Material Practice: The world of cuneiform culture as an arena for investigation (Roger Matthews)
  • Chapter 5. Re-writing the Script: Decoding the textual experience in the Bronze Age Levant (c.2000–1150 bc) (Rachael Thyrza Sparks)
  • Chapter 6. The Function and Meaning of Writing in the Prehistoric Aegean: Some reflections on the social and symbolic significance of writing from a material perspective (Helène Whittaker)
  • Chapter 7. Form Follows Function: Writing and its supports in the Aegean Bronze Age (Sarah Finlayson)
  • Chapter 8. Materiality of Minoan Writing: Modes of display and perception (Georgia Flouda)
  • Chapter 9. Saving on Clay: The Linear B practice of cutting tablets (Helena Tomas)
  • Chapter 10. Straight, Crooked and Joined-up Writing: An early Mediterranean view (Alan Johnston)
  • Chapter 11. “It Is Written”?: Making, remaking and unmaking early ‘writing' in the lower Nile Valley (Kathryn E. Piquette)
  • Chapter 12. Written Greek but Drawn Egyptian: Script changes in a bilingual dream papyrus (Stephen Kidd)
  • Chapter 13. The Other Writing: Iconic literacy and Situla Art in pre-Roman Veneto (Italy) (Elisa Perego)
  • Chapter 14. ‘Tombstones' in the North Italian Iron Age: Careless writers or athletic readers? (Ruth D. Whitehouse)
  • Chapter 15. Different Times, Different Materials and Different Purposes: Writing on objects at the Grand Arcade site in Cambridge (Craig Cessford)
  • Chapter 16. Writing Conservation: The impact of text on conservation decisions and practice (Elizabeth Pye)
  • Chapter 17. Epilogue (John Bennet)

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  • About the Book

    Writing as Material Practice grapples with the issue of writing as a form of material culture in its ancient and more recent manifestations, and in the contexts of production and consumption. Fifteen case studies explore the artefactual nature of writing — the ways in which materials, techniques, colour, scale, orientation and visibility inform the creation of inscribed objects and spaces, as well as structure subsequent engagement, perception and meaning making. Covering a temporal span of some 5000 years, from c.3200 BCE to the present day, and ranging in spatial context from the Americas to the Near East, the chapters in this volume bring a variety of perspectives which contribute to both specific and broader questions of writing materialities. The authors also aim to place past graphical systems in their social contexts so they can be understood in relation to the people who created and attributed meaning to writing and associated symbolic modes through a diverse array of individual and wider social practices.

    About the Contributors


    Kathryn Piquette earned a double BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her MA and PhD (“Writing, “Art’ and Society: A Contextual Archaeology of the Inscribed Labels Late Predynastic-Early Dynastic Egypt”) in Egyptology from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Archaeology, where she is also an Honorary Research Associate. Kathryn Piquette is a Research Associate at the University of Oxford on the project “Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) Systems for Ancient Documentary Artefacts”, an AHRC-funded collaboration with the University of Southampton. Her research centres on the study of script and image from a phenomenological perspective. With the aid of RTI (CSAD Newsletter No. 14), she is exploring ancient Egyptian script and image and the ways in which materials, techniques, and associated material practices inform both linguistic and non-linguistic meanings. Kathryn Piquette has also been conducting research on modern analogue and digital reader/writer experience as a Research Associate for the Canadian SSHRC funded Implementing New Knowledge Environments project at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, and is bringing these more recent perspectives to bear on questions of ancient reader/writer experience and practice.

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