Specious Space

Perec, Dumas, & The Power of the Page

As George Perec observed in Species of Space, ‘You could also work out the number of hectares of forest felled in order to be able to produce the paper needed to print the works of Alexander Dumas (père) who, it will be remembered, had a tower built each stone of which had the title of one of his books…’

This project works out the strange conversion between cultural capital and material footprints. Starting from the page materials (and translations) of Dumas, it maps the evolving matter and imagined communities intertwined in the industrialization and institutionalization of print.


Meg Studer conducted the research and developed the infographics (above) out of a general appreciation of Oulipian writing and creative constraints. It included two version – examining forestry, paper-making, and the spaces of reading – as on-going research into elementary material culture.

  • 2012, lecture at Northeastern University.
  • csv – collation of French print history, tabulation and visualization of Dumas editions in WorldCat
  • gis/d3.js – geocoding and quantitative maps, treemaps and quantitative elements
  • ai – summary graphics and style standards

Imagined Communities, Material Footprints

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