Introduction: Writing Between the Lines

Paul Tankard, Patrick Spedding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


There is at present a rising level of scholarly and even popular interest in marginalia, which this chapter illustrates, and the authors argue, is related to contemporary anxieties about reading. Marginalia represent tensions between manuscript and print culture, between the private and the public; marginalia arise from the experience of reading, into which overlooked and threatened occupation they offer a window, gesturing against the presumed passivity of reading, and figuring the attentive reader as a potential co-creator of meaning. Each annotated text is a unique and secretive item, but historical marginalia is now very accessible online; and the practice of annotation, which was often in the past proscribed by authorities, should now serve reading in the humanities, and scholarly reading in particular, by encouraging and modelling intellectual immersion and commitment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarginal Notes
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Reading and the Literal Margins
EditorsPatrick Spedding, Paul Tankard
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030563127
ISBN (Print)9783030563110
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2021

Publication series

NameNew Directions in Book History
ISSN (Print)2634-6117
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6125


  • Literary studies
  • Book History
  • Scholarly communication
  • Literary History
  • History of Reading

Cite this