Lab #1 Report 1


Consider Marshall McLuhan’s claim that “the media is the message” in the context of our Harlequin romance lab. McLuhan argues:

the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.

In our discussion of the Harlequins, we tried to tease out the books’ bibliographic codes, and see how these properties of the medium interact with the linguistic codes of the books’ content and the social codes that structure how we understand these individual books and the larger romance genre.

For your Lab #1 report, I want you to conduct a similar investigation and analysis of another textual artifact. You can of course choose a book you own, but you might consider other media as well. Do not, however, investigate a platform—in other words, if you’re interested in eBooks, don’t study your Kindle, but instead study a specific Kindle book. Don’t write about comic books, but instead about a specific comic book.

As we did with our Harlequins, look closely at the material and bibliographic properties of the text, and think analytically about how those properties shape and are shaped by larger social expectations for particular genres, formats, topics, etc. This time you’ll likely be working with a text you’re more familiar with, but I would urge you not to rely on your preconceptions about the text based on that familiarity—the linguistic or social codes you have internalized—though as we noted in class, some of these codes will certainly inform your understandings of the book’s material features. Avoid too commenting on the content of the text. For this exercise it doesn’t really matter whether you think the text is good or bad, treasure or trash.

Instead, you should focus on the question, how does this text make its meanings? What can you discern about the book’s audience(s), intended use(s), relationship(s) to other books, relationship(s) to other media, and its existence in the world from its physical and bibliographic properties alone? How does this kind of analysis help you think about books as a medium?


One thought on “Lab #1 Report

  • Serena Dao

    The book I chose was one of the four free Kindle Prime books for this month, the Moonlight Palace. These books are picked by four editors and available for instant download a month before the release date of the book. It is available for free to people who pay for Amazon Prime, which is a great perk and encourages people to read more.

    The first thing I noticed is the font of the book. It is an elegant print, which makes me think of a female perspective and that the book is being geared toward women also that the main character could be a woman. There is also the red trim at the bottom of the cover with flowers, which hints a bit at a book that connects to asia as the shade of red and the square-box trim is something very common in asian cultures.

    Focusing on the silhouette with the red umbrella, it’s safe to assume this is a female in the rain because, one, it looks like the female has long hair, two, there is a distinct waist, and, three, you don’t see many men with an umbrella this color.

    This book looks like it’s to be taken seriously, or at least, have a serious topic because of the cliche of the illumination of single female standing in the rain with a brightly colored umbrella (I would also assume that red is an important color in this book because it’s the only bright color on the cover). The person walking in the rain by herself must be having some serious and important thoughts because most people don’t normally take lone strolls in the rain unless they need some time to themselves.

    I would think that the topic of this book could be romantic because red is a color commonly associated with love. I also think that this could be a young coming of age story with a large focus on family as well. Most books that involve asian culture spend a fair amount of time focusing on the family dynamic because it is such a prevalent part of someones life, especially if they are a female.

    The Moonlight Palace makes me think of a memoir I read called The Glass Castle. The Glass Castle represented a childhood dream that the kids were told by their father growing up; one day their dad would strike it rich and build a glass castle that the whole family could live in. I believe that the title of the book is the same representation as the Glass Castle and, like the Glass Castle, as the main character grows up, she’ll face the reality of how hard it is to build or reach The Moonlight Palace.

    The way this book is presented, as a free book through amazon, is very interesting because not only does it encourage reading, but it helps the author gain attention for their book. The books are available one month before print and when it is released, there will already have been hundreds of reviews of the book and word of mouth would have garnered attention for the book much more effectively than just front door shelving.

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