Facing New Technologies (FNT)
Despite new technologies of text reproduction such as printing, photocopying, and computer printouts, manuscript cultures have not ceased to exist. While movable type printing has been the predominant influence in the modern era, it is only one among other challenging developments. The working group explores why some manuscript cultures commit the functions of manuscripts to prints, cassettes, online chats or other digital media and why others, in turn, withstand and adapt to new technologies and social change. FNT pursues a broad understanding of technology and technologies and, considering that writing involves a multitude of technologies, the group’s research is not limited to innovations of the 19th and 20th centuries.
One focus of FNT is on interdependencies between the visual organisation and materiality of manuscripts and technological innovations such as type printing. Examples for this include manuscripts that mimic printed books or that are made by using industrially produced commodities such as notebooks, inks, and biros. Another focus concerns the persistent use and production of manuscripts despite new technologies and social change. The reasons for this persistence are manifold and may include the need to avoid the cost of printing and to evade censorship. Another common reason for this persistence is the mere practicability of writing individual compilations and notebooks by hand.