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Modern Print ArtefactsTextual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890-1930s$
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Patrick Collier

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413473

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413473.001.0001

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Introduction: Modern Print Artefacts

Introduction: Modern Print Artefacts

(p.1) Introduction: Modern Print Artefacts
Modern Print Artefacts

Patrick Collier

Edinburgh University Press

The materiality of print objects took on increased significance with the explosion of print culture in the late nineteenth century, as artists from Henry James to the modernists sought to differentiate themselves from the mass of print culture. The pursuit of distance from commoditized print culture—whether it took the form of theories of aesthetic autonomy or the creation of specialized micro-markets—necessarily involved writers, editors, and other print professionals with the materiality of texts. This setting produced widely divergent attempts to gain symbolic capital through the creation of material print objects—from expensive editions de luxe to egalitarian political gestures such as Harold Monro’s poetic broadsides and cheap periodicals. This chapter surveys the field of material texts and the problems of literary value in the early twentieth century, which it elucidates using theories of cultural value ranging from Walter Benjamin and Pierre Bourdieu to Barbara Herrnstein-Smith and cultural anthropologist David Graeber.

Keywords:   Literary value, Textual Materiality, Modernism, Public Sphere, Periodicals

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