Ritualizing the Size of Books

Authors

  • James W. Watts Syracuse University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/post.35879

Keywords:

iconic books, ritualization, miniatures, amulets, privacy, digital texts

Abstract

Rhetoric about books usually emphasizes their semantic contents. Larger-than-average and smaller-than-average books, however, draw our attention to their material form. Size therefore provides one means for ritualizing the iconic dimension of books. While enlarging books quickly exceeds any practical purpose for the sake of public display, shrinking books tends to carry with it pragmatic rhetoric about portability, low expense, and mass production. Yet the popularity of textual amulets across history and cultures suggests that private ritualization drives much of the market for miniatures.

Author Biography

James W. Watts, Syracuse University

Professor in the Department of Religion, Syracuse University, USA.

References

Adomeit, Ruth E. 1980. Three Centuries of Thumb Bibles: A Checklist. New York: Garland.

Bondy, Louis W. 1981. Miniature Books: Their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day. London: Sheppard.

Bromer, Anne C. and Julian I. Edison. 2007. Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures. New York: Abrams.

Genette, Gerard. 1997. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511549373

Henderson, James D. 1933. “A Lilliputian Library.” The American Book Collector IV: 145–150.

Jaffe, Alexandra, Jannis Androutsopoulos, Mark Sebba, and Sally Johnson, eds. 2012. Orthography as Social Action: Script, Spelling, Identity and Power. Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614511038

Meyer, Birgit, David Morgan, Crispin Paine, and S. Brent Plate, 2010. “The Origin and Mission of Material Religion.” Religion 40: 207–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.religion.2010.01.010

Morgan, David, ed., 2010. Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief. Abingdon: Routledge.

Myrvold, Kristina. 2007. Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among Sikhs in Varanasi. Lund Studies in African and Asian Religions. Lund: Media-Tryck.

Myrvold, Kristina, ed. 2010. The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in World Religions. Abingdon: Routledge.

Myrvold, Kristina. 2017. “‘Orientalizing’ Bibles in Punjab: Christian Missionaries and Book Printing in Nineteenth Century India.’” In India: Research on Cultural Encounters and Representations at Linnaeus University, edited by Kristina Myrvold and Soniya Billore, 100–130. Göteborg: Makadam.

O’Donnell Georgene. 1943. Miniaturia: The World of Small Things. Chicago: Lightner.

Shaw, Graham. 1994. “Lithography v. letter-press in India” (Part II). South Asia Library Notes & Queries 30: 1-10.

Spielmann, Percy Edwin. 1961. Catalogue of the Library of Miniature Books. London: Edward Arnold.

Stam, Deirdre C. 2010. “Talking about ‘Iconic Books’ in the Terminology of Book History.” Postscripts 6: 23–38.

Stark, Ulrike. 2009. An Empire of Books: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Veidlinger, Daniel. 2006. “When a Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Mahayana Influence on the Theravada Attitudes towards Writing.” Numen 53: 405–447. https://doi.org/10.1163/156852706778942012

Watts, James W. 2006. “The Three Dimensions of Scriptures.” Postscripts 2: 135–159.

Welsh, Doris V. 1989. A Bibliography of Miniature Books (1470–1965). New York: Kathryn I. Rickard.

Welsh, Doris V. 1987. The History of Miniature Books. New York: Fort Orange.

Yelle, Robert A. 2013. The Language of Disenchantment: Protestant Literalism and Colonial Discourse in British India. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Published

2019-03-26

How to Cite

Watts, J. W. (2019). Ritualizing the Size of Books. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 9(2-3), 104-113. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.35879