Opening next week at the Folger is an exhibit about Extra-Illustration – the art of adding illustrations (and materials) to a book to make it a personal item for one’s reading experience. The works of William Shakespeare were some of the most popular books to be illustrated in this way, next to the Bible and encyclopedias, rising to popularity after an historian named James Granger encouraged his readers to add pictures into his text to illustrate historical figures.
“Grangerizing” books became popular because it gave people points of reference for their personal reading experiences. They would add in everything from doodles in the margins to full-page watercolors over text, from playbills of productions they’d seen to artists’ renderings of famous actors, and everything else they could think of. Their own personal tastes and styles became part of the book they were reading, and allowed them to express the way they saw the plays in their minds.
Today, I’m going to borrow a page out of Mike LoMonico’s e-book to offer this modern “grangerizing” activity: Hypertext
For example, take Sonnet 130 (because I am listening to Alan Rickman read it on the album When Love Speaks). Choosing words that stick out, create hyperlinks to pictures which illustrate these words by using a simple image search.
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
With this activity, you’ll have a chance to see what individuals choose to represent words in the text – you can find a million pictures of “eyes” but one has to stick out to you in order to choose it. And how do you picture a “pleasing sound” or “delight”? Try e-Grangerizing, or having students illustrate their own chosen passages with original drawings, magazine cutouts, or other media.