Why ‘manicule’?

Via Penn Provenance Project, Flickr
Via Penn Provenance Project, Flickr

Welcome to my new blog!

I’ve called this ‘Manicule’ because it reminds me of the materiality of our connections with texts. Handling books, turning down the corner of a page, marking up passages, inserting sticky notes are all ways of reading, ordering and even sharing our interactions with texts. The pointing finger was a frequently used symbol of a reader’s annotation in Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts appearing in the margins to mark important passages or words. It would also start appearing in print: for you eighteenth-centuryists, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa offers a wonderful fictional example, in which Lovelace uses the manicule to aggressively mark up a letter of Clarissa’s.

The blog’s title is also a pun on the other sense of the ‘digital’: the way information is processed in digital, as opposed to analogue, technology. So it points to the other interest of mine, digital humanities, which for me also involves a variety of different ways of marking-up texts. 763px-Mouse-cursor-hand-pointer.svgOf course, our relation to information in this way is not directly material, although it is significant that early graphic interfaces sought to replicate this material interaction with information by using the manicule (a pointing finger manipulated by the mouse). However, we tend to forget that our interaction with a computer is still physically mediated by our fingers

William Sherman’s Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), in his chapter on the manicule, quotes the 12thC Franciscan scholar Bartholomeus Anglicus as an epigraph:

The seconde [finger[ hyght Index and Salutaris …

For with him we grete, and shewe, and teche all thynges.

‘Greet, show and teach’: I rather like that as a description of what this blog attempts.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s