Jonathan Senchyne gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Monday, March 12, at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “Type, Paper, Glass, and Screws: Reading Surfaces and the Materialities of Communication.”

The surfaces we read are meant to disappear behind the content they bear. But what, and who, is available to readers who pay attention to the material dimensions of the devices we read? Whether an eighteenth-century newspaper or a twenty-first century iPhone, the surfaces from which we read are present to us, and they put our bodies in relation to others. In this talk, Senchyne reads the print work of the eighteenth-century enslaved printer Primus Fowle (1700–1791) and the poetry of Foxconn laborer Xu Lizhi (1990–2014) and argues that they use non-alphabetic elements of texts like broken type or loose screws to orient readers to the many kinds of people and kinds of work that mediate texts across time, space, and archives.

Jonathan Senchyne is Assistant Professor of Book History and Print Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and 2017-18 Pine Tree Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Future of the Book in a Digital Age, CUNY Graduate Center.