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.)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Conference on Libraries, Montreal June 17-19 2016

The Promise of Paradise: Reading, Researching, and Using the Private Library

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
- Jorge Luis Borges

In recent years, the idea of the library has become increasingly important to scholars of and experts on architecture, creative writing, digital humanities, history, and numerous other fields. Our conference asks contributors to join our keynote speakers—celebrated author of The Library at Night (2007), Alberto Manguel, and expert on Marlon Brando’s library, Susan Mizruchi—to talk about how researchers, writers, and the general public can use the library as a tool for engaging with various fields of scholarship. Of particular interest to this conference are papers on personal libraries and libraries from the perspective of users.

Private libraries have many of the qualities of an archive: they are testaments to and records of an era in terms of culture, philosophical thought, historical knowledge, architectural design, and so forth. In the case of personal libraries, collections can paint the broadest picture of what and (sometimes) when ideas were being read, internalized, and absorbed into an owner’s life and work. Our conference invites contributors to offer methodological frameworks for considering general or specific libraries (public or private) with these benefits of the library in mind.

In considering these issues, our conference encourages papers that include, but are not limited to, some of the following issues:

• The Author’s Library and Personal Collection

• The Meanings of Marginalia

• Charting and Understanding Genealogy through the Library

• Creative Uses for Libraries

• Special Needs for Specialized Libraries

• Designing the Library: Architecture and the Use of Space

• Using and Preserving Libraries in Crisis: War, Liquidation, Dismemberment

• New Tools for the Library in the Digital Age

• Uncovering Hidden Libraries

• Oral Libraries: Storytelling and the Intangible Library

It is the intention of the organizers (Dr. Jason Camlot and Dr. J.A. Weingarten) to publish a selection of these conference papers in a scholarly edition, which will be submitted to McGill-Queen’s University Press within six months of the conference. The goal of this groundbreaking publication will be to reach a wide audience of readers interested in the library and to demonstrate to those readers the place of libraries in the future of the humanities.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words (along with your name, institution, email, and tentative paper title) by 15 January 2016 to J.A. Weingarten at the following email address: ja.weingarten@concordia.ca.

The conference will be held at Concordia University on June 17-19, 2016.

cfp categories:

modernist studies

Monday, December 21, 2015

Marginalia and Its Disruptions

{from the Los Angeles Review of Books}

While there has been a growing conversation about the role of marginalia in the past two decades — including several library and art exhibitions devoted to the subject, studies like H. J. Jackson’s Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books (2001), and many of Grafton’s own books and essays — the debate about the appropriateness of writing in books is quite old. Considering marginalia have been found in texts for as long as there have been books, scrolls, or writings on papyrus, it seems odd to say that now is the moment. But indeed it may be. There is an obvious reason for this, and a less obvious one.
There is a second, less obvious reason for marginalia’s moment, joined to the first at an obtuse angle, and that is the diminishing status of the human body. If the book is being threatened with extinction in the wake of the digital, the human body is even more so. Essays, movies, novels, speculations, and suspicions pervade contemporary culture concerning artificial intelligence, robotics, and the “singularity.” Ray Kurzweil’s future — replicated in films like Ex Machina, television shows like Caprica, and precursed by the disembodied HAL and Philip K. Dick — foresees a jacked-in consciousness, with little left of a sensate body that moves and breathes and reads.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Religious Book as Object: An Interview with Do...

[The Material Religions blog has published Urmila Mohan's an interview with Dorina Miller Parmenter on "The Religious Book as Object." I reproduce it here under the terms of Material Religion's Creative Commons license.]

Dorina Miller Parmenter approaches the book as object, inspired by her material explorations as a former book artist as well as a desire to understand why and how the book has come to be so important in religion, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition.

MLA citation format: Mohan, Urmila and Dorina Miller Parmenter, "The Religious Book as Object:An Interview with Dorina Miller Parmenter" Web blog post. Material Religions. 16 December 2015. [date of access]

UM: How did you get interested in materials and objects in religion?

DMP: I was an art major in college, focusing on crafts rather than the so-called fine arts, and then went to graduate school where I studied ceramics and metalsmithing. I finished my degree in art by studying the history and designs of Medieval treasure bindings and creating my own jeweled and enameled covers for books that I bound. When exhibiting the finished products, the queries that I received most from viewers concerned the contents of the books, implying that the texts must be special to warrant such attention on the covers. Upon discovering that the books had blank pages, the disappointed viewers often shared their take-away lesson with me: “Well, I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
Relic of the Inquisition (Diary 85) 1995; paper, leather, sterling sliver, enamel, and stones;
5.5 x 5.5 x 1.25 in. Photo courtesy of Dorina Miller Parmenter.
After I got over my irritation that people seemed more concerned with the implied but absent text than they were appreciative of the art that I had created, I realized my own take-away lesson: people do judge books by their covers, among other things. The material elements of a book—including its cover, its size, the materials used to make it, where it is kept, how it is used, and so on—send signals about its purpose and value. When I then went to graduate school to study religion, my attention was drawn to the significations of the material elements of religious scripture, which seemed to be overlooked in textual hermeneutics as well as in ritual studies.

I no longer practice book arts, although every now and then I conduct basic bookbinding workshops to invite people to think about the materiality of books or the impact of different ways of presenting writing.

Linda's Clan (Diary 90) 1996; paper, leather, brass, fine silver, enamel, and stones;
7 x 7.5 x 1.5 in. Photo courtesy of Dorina Miller Parmenter.
UM: Do you approach ‘religious books’ and ‘texts’ as sacred objects or sacred knowledge?

DMP: My view is that the attribution of ‘sacred’ to books and texts comes from the material practices that surround them as objects more than from the meaning of the words conveyed by the text. My mentor and colleague, James Watts, articulated this well in “The Three Dimensions of Scriptures,” stating that scripture involves the ritualization of three related dimensions of texts: semantic, performative, and iconic. The iconic dimension—the representative and recognizable material form of the text that acts as a signifier separately from the signification of any particular words—is crucial to this formula.

I conduct most of my research in relation to the iconicity of biblical texts, such as an adorned Torah scroll in a synagogue ark, two arched tablets on a granite monument, or the display of a family Bible within the home. As visual objects they might act as symbols of God’s revelation and/or religious history and tradition, as tangible objects engaged in ritual they might be perceived to act as mediators of divine presence, as images and objects manipulated within particular social contexts they might communicate power and legitimacy.
"Bishop High Prayer Book", CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Image Credit
While my initial interest in the iconic dimension of the Christian Bible related to lavishly adorned books, recently I have been studying rituals that demonstrate an opposing sentiment. In some sectors of contemporary American evangelicalism it is common to display heavily used or worn-out Bibles, often held together with duct tape. In this case the iconic dimension signifies the piety of the individual user who is intimately bound up with the book, and reveals how the book acts as a mediator of God’s saving grace that “holds together” not only the book but its owner. 
"Southern T-shirt", CC BY-NC 2.0, Image Credit 
UM: Would you agree that the materiality of religious objects tends to be marginalised in religious studies in favor of scriptural exegesis?

DMP: Fifteen years ago I would have agreed that materiality was marginalized in favor of textual interpretation in religious studies, but I think that a focus on everyday objects has moved more toward the center. This has been furthered by the important and prolific works of David Morgan, S. Brent Plate, Colleen McDannell, and Sally Promley, among others, and the publication of "Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief."

UM: Is there more work to be done in highlighting the importance of religious materiality?

DMP: I don’t think there can be too much emphasis on materiality in the study of religion. In relation to materiality and scripture, I’ll take this chance to promote the organization SCRIPT – The Society for Comparative Research on Iconic and Performative Texts. We have sessions at the AAR/SBL annual meeting as well as at some regional and international conferences, and published the anthology Iconic Books and Texts in 2013. The conversations around SCRIPT are great because they are cross-cultural, and one can think about new ideas by hearing about issues of materiality and scripture in different traditions.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Enacting “Electronic Qur’ans”: Tradition Without a Precedent

On the Material Religions blog, Natalia Suit:
describes instances in Egypt in which the Qur'ān is enacted through the daily routines of worship and piety known as the etiquette of the muṣḥaf. These practices, she argues, are inseparably entangled with technology. A book made of paper is not the same as the Qur'ānic text on the screen of a phone. A text visible on the page does not necessarily appear in the same way as its digitized version under a plastic cover. When the medium of the message changes, the etiquette of the muṣḥaf changes as well, and practices are redefined to accommodate this new and unprecedented materiality of the text.
This essay will be of particular interest for the discussion of how digitization is affecting the ritualization of iconic texts. Suit quotes an anecdote that exempts digital texts from purity concerns by comparing computer or phone memory with human memory. This reproduces a very old tendency to compare the contents of books with the minds of human beings: both books and people have physical exteriors and immaterial interiors that, according to very many religious traditions, are not confined to their particular physical containers. Digitization drives this analogy even further into the heavens--or, at least, "the cloud".

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Cultural Functions of Libraries

Writing in the New York Times, Alberto Manguel concisely captures the cultural function of libraries as three-fold:
as preservers of the memory of our society, as providers of the accounts of our experience and the tools to navigate them — and as symbols of our identity.
Since the time of Alexandria, libraries have held a symbolic function. For the Ptolemaic kings, the library was an emblem of their power; eventually it became the encompassing symbol of an entire society, a numinous place where readers could learn the art of attention which, Hannah Arendt argued, is a definition of culture. But since the mid-20th century, libraries no longer seem to carry this symbolic meaning and, as mere storage rooms of a technology deemed defunct, are not considered worthy of proper preservation and funding.
Manguel lists chronicles the many ways that librarians are diversifying their services to remain relevant and fundable in the current political and cultural climate. But he argues that "If we change the role of libraries and librarians without preserving the centrality of the book, we risk losing something irretrievable."
Every economic crisis responds, first of all, by cutting funds to culture. But the dismantling of our libraries and changing their nature is not simply a matter of economics. Somewhere in our time, we began to forget what memory — personal and collective — means, and the importance of common symbols that help us understand our society.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ten Years of Artists' Books

At the Brooklyn Public Library

I wish I could get to this new show at the Brooklyn Public Library, curated by Donna Seager of Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, California. First, I love that a gallery curates a show for a library, already colliding a couple spaces that need more collision and collusion. Second, it's a fine collection of artists working with/on/against/for books in multiple ways. In a small collection of objects, some of the range of what we call "artists' books" can be seen.

Third, and bringing me to the interests of this blog, are the myriad religious references. I've known Meg Hitchcock's work for a few years and am especially fond of her abilities to find connections between the texts of the western religious traditions, while the cost of making the connections is the cutting up of the books, an act that could be seen as desecrating.

Other religious borrowings include Islam Aly who adopts a history of Quranic bookmaking and calligraphy for his political piece on Tahrir Square. Julie Chen devises an accordion book with a sort of spiritual journey invoked. Lisa Kokin self-consciously creates a "page" of Karl Marx's Das Capital in the format of a leaf of sacred text, or perhaps ritual cloth. And Elizabeth Sher's "Blog" borrows the format of torah scrolls and placing them in what looks like a coffin.

The well-photographed objects of the exhibition are available in the catalog available in non-book form at ISSUU. Well worth a leaf through.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

China nervous about the Magna Carta

Exhibition of an early copy of the Magna Carta was suddenly cancelled and moved in Beijing. The New York Times reports:
Magna Carta — the Great Charter — is on tour this year, celebrating eight centuries since it was issued in 1215 by King John of England. ... One of the few surviving 13th-century copies of the document was to go on display this week from Tuesday through Thursday at a museum at Renmin University of China in Beijing .... But then the exhibit was abruptly moved to the British ambassador’s residence, with few tickets available to the public and no explanation given. (The document is also set to go on display at the United States Consulate in Guangzhou and at a museum in Shanghai, the embassy said.)
One source indicated that Renmin, which has close ties to the government, cancelled the exhibit at the request of the Ministry of Education. A Western academic reacted with a typically dismissive scholastic attitude:
“To get kind of wound up about an old document like the Magna Carta? They’re a little bit brittle and fragile, aren’t they, Chinese leaders?” said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat who was stationed in Beijing and now serves as director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney in Australia. “Poor dears.”
But the Chinese governments actions more likely reflect views voiced by Hu Jia, "a prominent Chinese dissident," who thought that Chinese leaders worried that the exibit would be popular and that "many students would flock there. ... They fear that such ideology and historical material will penetrate deep into the students’ hearts.”

How this particular exhibit fares in today's China remains to be seen. The collection of evidence on this blog over the years suggests, however, that the Chinese estimate of the cultural potency of ancient documents like the Magna Carta may well be more realistic than dismissive academics like to think.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surprise! E-books decline, independent bookstores increase

The New York Times reported last month that e-book sales have leveled off, and may even be starting to decline:
E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers .... Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.
Meanwhile, independent bookstores are staging a small resurgence:
The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago.
As a result, "Publishers ... are pouring money into their print infrastructures and distribution," such as huge new warehouses and fast, 2-day distribution to bookstores.

The article attributes the change to plummeting consumer interest in e-readers, like the Kindle and Nook, that have largely been replaced by tablets and large-screen cell phones. But publishers still expect digital texts to continue to be popular, on one platform or another.

Maybe. What the article does not consider is the resilience of the book as a cultural icon that represents enduring value and worth. No digital platform shows any signs of gaining that kind of status. Until it does, digital texts might better be classified as the latest form of ephemeral text.

In the forms of newspapers, blackboards, broadsheets, wax tablets, ostraca, and unbaked clay tablets, ephemeral texts are as old as writing itself. They are always highly utilitarian even in their iconic uses as receipts and currency. The mutability of digital media makes it an effective replacements for older ephemeral texts. They are well on the way to replacing both currency and newspapers.

Books occupy a different place in human symbolism. They represent the permanence of knowledge and value. They are, in many cases, a very practical as well as symbolic technology for cultural preservation. That does not describe all books, of course. But it is possible that in retrospect, the e-book revolution of the early twenty-first century will have succeeded only in skimming off the ephemeral texts that used to take book form, such as pulp paperback novels and phone books.

Monday, September 14, 2015

New articles: Religions & Books, and Iconic Scriptures

The new issue of Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture is devoted to the theme of "Livre et religion / Religion and the Book." The articles focus on various aspects of the multifarious interactions between religions and books. I particularly recommend the introduction by the guest editor, Scott McLaren, who draws together the theme and the articles in a broad theoretical overview:
 My own article uses the example of the Jewish Torah to emphasize that ritualizing the semantic dimension of texts does not necessarily take historical priority over ritualizing the iconic and performative dimensions.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Materializing the Bible

James Bielo and Amanda White have created a website that catalogs Bible-based attractions around the world. Materializing the Bible locates and describes 145 attractions that "create material environments directly inspired by biblical texts." The welcome introduces the project in words very similar to those that headline this blog: "People do more than read Bibles. They use the written words to make material environments. What happens when the Bible is transformed across different media?"

Bielo and White catalog the attractions under seven headings: Creation Museums, Re-Creations, Transmission Museums, Holy Land Replicas, Archeology Museums, Gardens, and Art Collections.  A customized Google Map allows viewers to see their distribution by region and by category.

This website is a valuable demonstration that such Bible attractions are widespread and deserve to be understood as a typical phenomenon, especially when we remember that the stations of the cross and art collections in Catholic (and many other) churches are smaller and much more numerous iterations of the same phenomenon. This catalog of Bible-based attractions should stimulate research on their religious and social functions.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bibliography on Books in Art

A query about studies of depictions of books in art produced many suggestions this month on SHARP-L, the discussion list of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing. It is interesting how many of them focus on artistic depictions of women reading or writing. When we first compiled a pictorial database for the Iconic Books Project, we noticed the prominent association women with books across a wide variety of cultures and throughout history. Since books in art have been a key interest of the Iconic Books Project from its inception, I have taken the liberty of compiling the suggestions here. 

Books and articles:
Adler, Laure, Stefan Bollman and Jean Torrent, Les femmes qui lisent sont dangereuses ("Reading Women Are Dangerous"), Flammarion, 2006, new ed. 2015.
Adler, Laure, Stefan Bollman and Jean Torrent, Les femmes qui lisent sont de plus en plus dangereuses ("Reading Women are More & More Dangerous") Flammarion, 2012.
Allen, James Smith. In the Public Eye: a History of Reading in Modern France, 1800-1940. Princeton University Press, 1991.  Chapter Five: “Artistic Images.”
Brown, Kathryn. Women Readers in French Painting 1870-1890. Ashgate, 2012. Introduction online here.  
Docherty, Linda J. "Women as Readers: Visual Interpretations," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 107 (October 1997): 335-88, online here.
Inmann, Christiane. Forbidden Fruit : a History of Women and Books in Art. Prestel, 2009.
Lerner, Loren. “William Notman’s Portrait Photographs of Girls Reading from the 1860s to 1880s: A Pictorial Analysis Based on Contemporary Writings.” Papers of The Bibliographical Society of Canada 47/1 (2009), online here.  
Long, Elizabeth. Book Clubs: Women and the Uses of Reading in Everyday Life, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Chapter 1.
Stewart, Garrett. The Look of Reading: Book, Painting, Text. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Thornton, Dora. The Scholar in His Study: Ownership and Experience in Renaissance Italy. Yale University Press, 1998.
Warner, William. “Staging Readers Reading.” Online here.
Zanker, Paul. The Mask of Socrates: the Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity. Tr. A. Shapiro. Berkeley: University of California, 1995.

Exhibition and Sale catalogs:
il libro come tema, National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, September – November, 2006.
Das Buch in der Kunst - die Kunst im Buch. Graphik-Salon Gerhart Söhn, 1984.

Library and Museuam Collections:
Antwerp City Library: Former Antwerp city librarian Ger Schmook (1898-1985) collected a huge set of images of books in art; it’s a collection of photocopies with a card file.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: catalog by Mindell Dubansky of photographs and descriptions of bindings and images of books depicted in the art works of the Met: “Catalog of Bookbindings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art” [v. 9.] European Paintings, Representations of the book in art. -- [v. 10.] The Lehman Collection, Representations of the book in art.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dr Seuss Books in Bronze

This winter, I found myself with an hour to spare in Springfield, Massachusetts, so I visited the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden.

What a delightful place! The bronze sculptures by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates were unveiled in 2002. They reproduce some of Seuss's most famous characters around or popping out of two giant books.

Nearby is a likeness of Theodore Geissel (Dr. Seuss) himself at his desk with the Cat in the Hat looking over his shoulder.

Now here are iconic books in every sense of the term!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Iconic Books & Texts in Paperback!

Iconic Books and Texts will be available in paperback in August. It can be ordered from the publisher, Equinox, or from the north American distributor, ISD, which lists it on sale for $24.

Using picture of Bible in intra-Christian polemics

Religion Dispatches reports that eight "traditionalist" churches have joined forces against their progressive Christian neighbor church in Phoenix. The effort is clearly part of their concern over the liberalization of marriage laws in the US.

What fascinates me is the iconic old book on their banner. Presumably a Bible, it nevertheless appears less like an iconic Bible than like an old book. Never mind that it looks nothing like most evangelical bibles sold today--either glossy or leather, floppy or paperback. The picture answers the banner's question definitively: the old book is the opposite of progressive. 

Books beat e-readers as momentos

The tech columnist, Nick Bilton, urged his mother to use e-readers instead of her beloved books ("In a Mother’s Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print, NY Times, May 13, 2015). Once she died, though, he experienced a change of heart. 
Now that she was gone, all I cared about were her physical books.
Yes, as a technology columnist, I have become acutely aware of technology’s built-in expiration date. Kindles, iPhones and those new smartwatches are designed to become outdated, and quickly. Technology is about the future, not the past. ... As VHS tapes turned to DVDs and later streaming services, I didn’t think twice about the lost physical objects — rather, I rejoiced in their disappearance.
But books, I now understand, are entirely different.
... I love listening to audiobooks when I drive. And taking a Kindle on a long trip is nothing short of magical. But that doesn’t mean I want my mother’s old Kindle to remember her by. And I certainly wouldn’t get much from her Audible collection.
Instead, I want her physical books. I want to be able to smell the paper, to see her handwriting inside, to know that she flipped those pages and that a piece of her lives on through them.
Bilton emphasizes how his senses interact with books differently than with digital texts, and that this makes all the difference for his memories of his mother. It is an old observation that our senses engage our memories in a variety of ways. Smell and sound can often provoke vivid recall of events years in the past. 

Sense and text/sense and scripture is on the research agenda of several of us this coming year. Bilton reminds us to consider the close connection between sensation--touch, smell, sight--and memory. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Printing in Blood

A Lebanese Art and Culture magazine, Audio Kultur, has used human blood to print its issue commemorating the Armenian genocide.

NPR reports that

Lebanon became home to large numbers of Armenians fleeing the Turks during World War I. While many emigrated during the Lebanese civil war, several Beirut neighborhoods remain centers of Armenian culture.

So just how do you publish in blood? The magazine approached five notable Lebanese-Armenian artists, from musicians to designers. Phlebotomists drew the blood, collecting it in vials.

"Obviously when you do something like this it becomes a statement, and the reader will take away from it whatever they want to take away from it," Colacion told the Daily Star. "But what we want to do is just kind of celebrate this rich culture, which impacts all of us every day, especially in the arts."

Audio Kultur produced a video about the process and its goals:

The video ends with the text: "100 Years Later, Armenian blood is being spilled for recognition."

Writing in blood identifies texts with human bodies. The tendency to equate texts and humans is endemic to the history and rituals of textual culture, as demonstrated clearly by the multi-cultural essays in Kristina Myrvold's The Death of Sacred Texts. Blood writing has to my knowledge been used most recently to create a relic text at the opposite end of the political spectrum, a Qur'an written in Saddam Hussein's blood.

SCRIPT at EIR/AAR Montreal May

SCRIPT is providing two panels on the theme of “Devotion to and with Books” for the Eastern International Regional  meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Montreal this week-end.

Both panels will take place on May 2nd in Room 204 of the Birks Building on the campus of McGill University

1:30 p.m.
Chair: Michael Como (Columbia)
1. Rachel Fell McDermott (Barnard/Columbia) “What Happens When Love is Transposed:
The Story of a South Asian Devotional Poetry Genre that was Birthed, Once”
2. Dai Newman (Syracuse) “The Family: A Proclamation in Three Dimensions: Contemporary LDS Scripturalization”
3. James Watts (Syracuse) “Book Aniconism in Christian Tradition and Ritual Practice”

3:00 p.m.
Chair: James Watts (Syracuse)
4. Michael Como (Columbia) “Buddhist Sutras: Desires and Devotions”
5. Urmila Mohan (London) “Preformed or Performed? Embroidery as Devotion in ISKCON”
6. Discussion: “Devotion to and with Books

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bibliography additions

Recent additions to the alphabetical and topical bibliographies on iconic books include:

On iconic books and Islam:
  • George, Kenneth M. "Designs on Indonesia's Muslim Communities," The Journal of Asian Studies 57/3, (1998), 693-713, a description of the artistic, political and religious choices involved in making a uniquely Indonesian copy (mushaf) of the Qur'an. George takes up these same issues more broadely in:
  • George, Kenneth M. "Ethics, Iconoclasm and Quranic Art in Indonesia," Cultural Anthropology 24/4 (2009), 589-621.
  • George, Kenneth M. Picturing Islam: Art and Ethics in a Muslim Lifeworld. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2010. 

On ancient book destruction and iconoclasm:
  • May, Natalie N., ed. Iconoclasm and Text Destruction in the Ancient Near East and Beyond. Chicago: Oriental Institute, 2012. 
  • Levtow, Nathaniel B. "Text Production and Destruction in Ancient Israel: Ritual and Political Dimensions." In Saul M. Olyan, ed. Social Theory and the Study of Israelite Religion. Atlanta: SBL, 2011. 111-39.