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Material Moments in Book Cultures

Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser

Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon

This Festschrift honours the dedicated book historian and medievalist Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser. Her wide-ranging scholarly expertise has encouraged and influenced many adepts of the book. The essays in this volume reflect the variety of her interests: The contributions range from Chaucer’s Fürstenspiegel to the value of books in comedy, from the material book to the magical book in religious and literary cultures, from collaborative efforts in manuscript production to the relations of distributors of books across national and ideological boundaries, from the relations between the makers of books to the relation of readers to their books. Covering a period from the Middle Ages to the present, the volume concludes with a look at the future of book history as a field of study.
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Book Value Categories in Television Comedy Shows

Extract

Simon Rosenberg, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster

Abstract

Effective humour almost always works best if a commonly accepted premise is addressed and then broken by some form of incongruity. This article argues that by using book value categories, bookish aspects in TV comedy shows can shed more light on our understanding of the book in past and present.

A monk is sitting in a dark room in a monastery, dimly lit by candles. Sitting in front of a book that is lying on the table, the monk seems anxious. Suddenly, someone knocks on the door. Another monk enters and asks for a monk named Ansgar. The monk with the book turns around and eagerly asks the other to sit down. It is revealed that the monk is distressed because he is having difficulty with a new medium: the book in codex form. He does not know how to handle it properly, especially how to open it and how to turn the pages back and forth. Most importantly, he is unsure whether the content is safe when he closes the book. Luckily, the man who just entered the room is a member of the help desk (an anachronistically used term describing the service of assistance for customers concerning information technology) and can successfully and patiently answer all the questions and solve all the problems, even though the monk he leaves behind is still somewhat sceptical of the new object.

Years after its...

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