Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

SBL CFP on Materiality of Texts

The call for papers for Novembers's Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Francisco includes this request for a thematic panel on "The Materiality of Texts / The Word as Object":
At some point in the development of sacred texts, readers became aware of them as material entities. How did this awareness affect their adornment, both inside with ornate calligraphy and illuminations, and outside with ornamented covers? How did this development influence ritual practices? What happens to our understanding or even interpretation of text when it depends as much, if not more on the materiality of the text than on the words themselves? How does thinking about the materiality of ancient texts (and attendant technologies) provide insight into the development of ritual practices and other embodied ideas of the sacred?

The panel will be co-sponsored by three program groups: Religious World of Late Antiquity, Art and Religions of Antiquity, and Social History of Formative Christianity and Judaism.

NYC Private Libraries

Michael Lieberman on Book Patrol has mined the online photographs of the Museum of the City of New York to put together a collection of pictures of the private libraries of famous New Yorkers, such as this one of Thomas Edison in his library:

Bindings for Interior Designers

Some custom book binders have found a profitable business in creating custom mathing bindings to make libraries match the work of interior designers, according to a New York Times article from last month.

In this Kindle-and-iPad age, architects, builders and designers are still making spaces with shelves — lots and lots of shelves — and turning to companies like Mr. Wines’s Juniper Books for help filling them.

Jeffrey Collé, a builder of vast Hamptons estates that mimic turn-of-the-century designs, wouldn’t think of omitting a library from one of his creations. A 16,800-square-foot Shingle-style house on 42 acres in Water Mill, N.Y., comes with a $29.995-million price tag and a library Mr. Collé had built from French chalked quarter-sawn oak; with about 150 feet of shelf space, there is room for more than 1,000 books.

It’s up to the buyers or their decorator to fill that space, said Mr. Collé, who has collaborated with Bennett Weinstock, a Philadelphia decorator known for his English interiors, on some of his libraries.