On Parchment: Animals, Archives, and the Making of Culture from Herodotus to the Digital Age

Animals, Archives, and the Making of Culture from Herodotus to the Digital Age

Cover Art for 9780300260212, On Parchment: Animals, Archives, and the Making of Culture from Herodotus to the Digital Age by Bruce Holsinger
ISBN: 9780300260212
Publisher: *Yale University Press
Published: 14 February, 2023
Format: Hardcover
Editions:
1 other edition of this product
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A sweeping exploration of the shaping role of animal skins in written culture and human imagination over three millennia For many centuries, the societies of the premodern world recorded and preserved a good part of their written cultures on parchment: the rendered skins of sheep, cows, goats, camels, deer, gazelles, and other creatures whose remains make up a significant portion of the era’s surviving historical record. In a study spanning three millennia and twenty languages, Bruce Holsinger explores this boundless animal archive as it shaped the inheritance of the Euro-Mediterranean world, from the leather rolls of ancient Egypt to the Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom. The book’s fifteen chapters take up such topics as the making of parchment past and present, the nature of the medium as a biomolecular record of faunal life and environmental history, the knotty question of “uterine vellum,” and the imaginative role of parchment in the works of St. Augustine, William Shakespeare, and a range of Jewish rabbinic writers of the medieval epoch. Lavishly illustrated and closely informed by the handicraft of contemporary makers, painters, and sculptors, the book draws on a vast array of sources—codices and scrolls, documents and ephemera, works of craft and art—that speak in different ways to the vitality of parchment across epochs and continents. At the center of On Parchment is the vexed relationship of human beings to the myriad slaughtered beasts whose remains make up this vast cultural record: a relationship of dominion and compassion, of brutality and empathy.

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