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Kim Wilkins, Beth Driscoll, and Lisa Fletcher. Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction and Twenty-First-Century Book Culture.

In 2017, I reviewed Jeremy Rosen’s exploration of genre and late 20th/21st century publishing in Minor Characters Have Their Day for SHARP News. So it seems only fitting that 5 years later I have the opportunity to review Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction and Twenty-First-Century Book Culture by Kim Wilkins, Beth Driscoll, and Lisa Fletcher. Genre Worlds is a more expansive examination of genre in popular fiction than the work of Rosen and many others, and provides an important framework for the study of genre fiction. Genre Worlds follows an organizational structure that addresses the theory of genre worlds, relationship to the publishing industry, transnational and transmedia genre worlds, community and creativity, genre sociality (online and in-person), the texts themselves, concluding with genre worlds and change.

James W. Watts and Yohan Yoo (eds.). Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings.

The volume, edited by James W. Watts and Yohan Hoo, is a thought-provoking addition to our discipline as it expands the study on sacred texts by looking at them attaining the status of bodies, as well as body practices that merge with the materiality and immateriality of texts. Watts is a professor of religion who has focused on the rituals that surround scriptures. Many of the chapters are grounded on the three dimensions of sacred texts proposed by Watts himself: semantic, expressive or performative, and iconic. The first one refers to textual interpretation; the second to how a text gets materialized through the body by being read, memorized, sung or acted; while the last one refers to the material form and visual appearance of a text. 

Simon Rowberry. Four Shades of Gray: The Amazon Kindle Platform.

Users of hardware such as the Kindle tend to have a preferred format, sometimes refusing to replace the device until it has completely gone beyond the point of use. This is just one of the phenomena that Simon Peter Rowberry hits on in his book Four Shades of Gray: The Amazon Kindle Platform (a nod to the greyscale used in the first Kindle back in 2007) as he delves into the inner workings of the Kindle, both as a platform and a larger tool in the Amazon ecosystem. This work balances the line in giving the reader valuable technical information, but remaining readable to most of the scholars, students, and publishers who will find merit in this book.

G. Thomas Tanselle, Descriptive Bibliography.

Descriptive Bibliography embodies G. Thomas Tanselle’s lifelong dedication and significant, enviable contributions to the discipline; and its content amounts to a cornucopia of bibliographical delights for those seeking to learn, reinforce or revisit what descriptive bibliography is and its “role as history and biography” (page 28), such as from aspiring higher-degree students, early- to mid-career scholars, to researchers from adjacent disciplines, such as library cataloguing, whose work exists tangentially to, or intermixes with, that of bibliographers. The book’s objective to “offer a comprehensive guide to descriptive bibliography” (page ix), though limited to printed books, is without doubt (and, given the author, predictably) achieved. 

Stephen Orgel, Wit’s Treasury: Renaissance England and the Classics.

If there are any preconceived notions of a poet who refrains from sassy defamation of a critic or an academic who manages not to say something controversial, Wit’s Treasury shatters such notions. At the heart of the book is the organic development of the understanding and appreciation of literary classics, many of them appearing as various translations throughout the Jacobean and Elizabethan periods and beyond. The book gives special attention to adaptations of the classics rendered as poetry, dramatic performance, and other written and visual modes of art. Not only were the classics, such as the narrative and philosophical writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans, translated in ever-more-updated editions with plentiful illustrations, produced for the elite and popular culture, but the trappings, the settings, and the aesthetics of “the classics” also rubbed off on the books and plays of the whole Renaissance.