Numbering by the books

On Thursday I will be pretending to be a medievalist at the International Medieval Congress in exciting Kalamazoo, Michigan and hoping not to get tossed out of the room for being a dirty no-good social scientist. My paper is entitled “Numbering by the Books: The transition from Roman to Arabic numerals in the early English printing tradition”, and is … well, it is just about what it sounds like it is, only significantly more interesting! I’m looking at the not-so-systematic introduction of Arabic (Western) numerals into the printing tradition, using England as a case study because there’s such a huge body of accessible texts (all hail the great god EEBO!), and commenting on the common wisdom that Arabic numerals allowed books to be organized more efficiently than Roman numerals, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis.

The panel is being organized by my friend Shana Worthen and promises to be really excellent. For those of you who may be at K’zoo this year, it’s Session 74 (Fetzer 1035, Thursday 1:30pm). Hope to see you there!

Author: schrisomalis

Anthropologist, Wayne State University. Professional numbers guy. Rare Words: Blog:

2 thoughts on “Numbering by the books”

    1. There are plans to publish the papers from this panel in an edited volume, yes. But I will also be posting a short discussion of my paper here at the blog over the next day or two.

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