HH Co-Director's Book on Papermaking Featured in "Public Books"

The reviews are in--or the first one is, at least--and thanks in part to Holding History Co-Director Joshua Calhoun’s new book The Nature of the Page, “paper is definitely a thing right now.”

According to a recent review in Public Books: A Magazine of Ideas, Arts, & Scholarship, Calhoun’s book “demonstrate[s] how an awareness of paper’s ‘thingliness’ once permeated literary culture and the popular imagination.” Author Gill Partington, reviewing Calhoun’s The Nature of the Page alongside UW-Madison colleague Jonathan Senchyne’s recent book on 19th C American paper, suggests that their work “translates into nothing less than a reinvention of reading.”


In Calhoun’s new book, “Nonhuman actors are as pivotal to his story as human ones: in this version of book history, the protagonist is not Gutenberg but cellulose, the fibers that mat together to form paper.”


“Paper,” Partington writes, “was never simply a writing surface but a complicated substance that folded itself into the fabric of culture and consciousness. And against the backlit glow of the screen, it is emerging in all its strangeness as a compelling object of study.”


Public Books is an award-winning magazine, “a monthly compendium of meaty book writing,” according to The Daily Beast, that is “designed to cater to seriously curious readers.” We’re delighted to see Calhoun’s work featured in such a well-regarded, public-facing forum.


Book signings and a release party will have to wait, but in the coming months, Calhoun has plans to talk about The Nature of the Page in public, virtual settings. If you’d like to receive updates about these events--and about future Holding History events, subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on social media.

UW-Madison students at one of Holding History's "Papermaking on Library Mall" workshops

To learn more about papermaking and ecology, check out: