Group for Experimental Methods in Humanistic Research
at Columbia University

"Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture" with Shannon Mattern

TALK at 6pm on 22 Feb 2018
⌖ Butler Library, Room 535

While the physical properties of our reading materials, and our material engagements with them, have evolved over the millennia – and particularly within the past decade – we still rely on physical supports, furnishings, to scaffold our interactions with them.

Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture

Even “the cloud” that seems to float above us today relies on heavy architecture for its operation. In this talk I’ll focus on the furniture we design and build (or buy, or appropriate, or kludge together) to make, store, support, organize, and preserve our bibliographic objects. These structures scaffold our media technologies, inform the way human bodies relate to those media, and embody certain assumptions about what and how we know things through these objects. We’ll examine how these media-furnishings function as material supports for the delivery of and engagement with media resources, while they also frame organizational logics, access policies, and technical protocols. We’ll discover how our task chairs, desks, shelves, and cabinets give shape to epistemology, politics, and affect — how they render complex intellectual and political ideas material, aesthetic, and empirical.

All talks in the Book History Colloquium at Columbia are free and open to the public, but registration is required and advance registration preferred. Advance registration can be done at this link. This talk is sponsored by the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Columbia Department of English & Comparative Literature, Columbia (GSAPP) Books on Architecture & the City, and the Columbia Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities.