|Title:||Library encounters: textuality and the institution|
Literature ‐‐ History and criticism ‐‐ Theory, etc.
Borges, Jorge Luis
|Publisher:||University of Sydney|
Department of English
|Abstract:||The library is an institution and a work: it has developed functions and processes which constitute aspects of textual experience. For readers, students, and researchers, objects and practices such as library patronage, library books, and library classification are often familiar. They are also unique: there is no other textual site or institution which produces them in the way the library does. Brought into being by the work of the library, these objects and practices are also wrought forms available to abstraction and interpretation. Prevalent and regularised, the forms are consequential for the activities of reading and writing, producing singular textual phenomena. Library patronage facilitates, administers, and orchestrates the reading experience. The library is often associated with textual complexity and heterogeneity, and is regularly represented as having a tendency to overwhelm its users. Patronage’s experience, however, need not be as passive as this. Richard Brautigan’s 'The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966' and Mark Swartz’s 'Instant Karma' are unusual representations of library patronage which show it to be involved in a textual phenomenology of its own right. These two novels indicate how patronage opens up a critical space of reflection for reading. Involved in a cycle of borrowing, patronage in fact gestures towards the interminable in textual experience, its weave in life. The character of O in Pauline Réage’s 'Story of O' is a model of circulation: inducted into an institution which sees her shared between its members, she is tagged, processed, circulated, and always returned. I take O as an allegory in order to undertake a descriptive phenomenology of the circulating library book. The library book can be differentiated from others: books which are privately owned, for instance, or books which have been found, given, or borrowed from friends. I describe critical aspects of the ontology of library books, such as the transformative process they undergo at the behest of the institution. The most significant of these aspects, however, is the way that library books can be understood to be oriented towards strangers, and as a consequence incarnate significantly defamiliarised elements within the reading experience. Classification is explored in relation to library holdings of fiction. Using Carlos María Domínguez’s novella 'The Paper House' and Jorge Luis Borges’s short story 'The Library of Babel,' as well as work from anthropology and library science on classification, the tensions between these two kinds of practice are investigated. Not only are there substantial difficulties involved in successfully deploying fiction arrangement practices in libraries, there seems to be a cardinal difference between fiction and classification as regards their mode of emphasis. Classification often prefers and prioritises subject – and yet librarians consistently report it is the concept of “subject” which proves most recalcitrant for the organisation of fictional material. Fiction seems to work within a model of exemplarity, and this distinction is significantly consequential. Classification’s expression is a kind of language that operates in a way which is not congruent with fictional expression, and thus classification proves resistant to reading as it is theorised in literary studies. Intervention is the theme which unites all of these encounters. Ian Hacking holds intervention to be akin to experimentation in scientific practice, and he proposes that one of intervention’s functions is the creation of phenomena. The involvement of the library in producing particular kinds of textual phenomena is considerably under-researched. At each of these locations – patronage, library books, and classification – intervention is a tool with which the library’s role in textual experience can be conceived and reconfigured. In Hacking’s work, intervention is also related to experiment. In the final chapter I conceive of interpretative practice around fiction as a kind of experiment: an activity which requires a stable context, like a laboratory or a library, to proceed.|
|Rights and Permissions:||Excerpts from the chapter ‘Classification’ were reproduced and developed in a subsequent publication: Michelle Kelly, ‘Classifying Fictions: Libraries and Information Sciences and the Practice of Complete Reading’, from Libraries, Literatures, and Archives edited by Sas Mays, pp. 130-149. Copyright 2014. From Libraries, Literatures, and Archives edited by Sas Mays (9780415843874). Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc. For publication details of this book see: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415843874 This material is strictly for personal use only. For any other use, the user must contact Taylor & Francis directly at this address: email@example.com. Printing, photocopying, sharing via any means is a violation of copyright.|
|Type of Work:||PhD Doctorate|
|Type of Publication:||Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
|MichelleKelly_f1_2016021307-45-33.pdf||Thesis||1.62 MB||Adobe PDF|
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