Literary Nonfiction. Artists' Books & Typography. "For decades, Johanna Drucker's work—as a theorist, printer, art historian, poet, literary critic, and designer—has been set apart by her mastery in each of those fields. With the broadened perspective of recent research into digital media and complexity theory, and with a full awareness of the historical dimensions of our current understanding of 'materiality,' the series of nine conceptually linked essays in WHAT IS? again leverages Drucker's positions across disciplines to show us how little we know about the most familiar concepts: from letters and words to documents and books and their digital futures—and why knowing more really matters.'—Craig Dworkin
"In these meticulous interrogations, Johanna Drucker takes us on journeys of relentless, informed, and thorough thought regarding the nature of the mind made visible—what us graphic designers would identify with as typography or graphesis. Reading these essays through the eyes of graphic design, each one resonates with expanded understandings—for one, of typography as transformative 'imaginative energy' and not just thought's mirror. I hope every MFA graphic design student will read these essays and be inspired to understand the significance of their discipline, but more importantly be inspired towards the imaginative possibilities in their work to which Drucker pays such devoted tribute."—Louise Sandhaus
"In WHAT IS?, Drucker traces the invisible thread that links letters to writing to books to the digital age. In so doing, she makes sense of emerging technology and the way it has insinuated itself into the culture of book making, writing, and reading. Drucker's grand arguments are based on modest means. In this case she is starting with the humble letter. But, by probing the philosophy of language as well as the rhetoric of art, she builds toward a broader picture. In the end, her investigation concludes with nothing less than a new understanding of digital materialism."—Elizabeth Guffey
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Johanna Drucker is the inaugural Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. She is internationally known for her work in the history of graphic design, typography, experimental poetry, fine art, and digital humanities. In addition, she has a reputation as a book artist, and her limited edition works are in special collections and libraries worldwide. Her most recent titles include SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Speculative Computing (Chicago, 2009), Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide (Pearson, 2008, 2nd edition late 2012), and WHAT IS: NINE EPISTEMOLOGICAL ESSAYS (Cuneiform Press, 2013). She is currently working on a database memoire, ALL, the online Museum of Writing in collaboration with University College London and King's College, and a letterpress project titled Stochastic Poetics. A collaboratively written work, Digital_Humanities, with Jeffrey Schnapp, Todd Presner, Peter Lunenfeld, and Anne Burdick was published by MIT Press in 2012.
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