In the Johnson reading, Bookrolls as Media, he explains to his readers how bookrolls have changed the way people read and learn today using Ancient Greeks and Romans as two examples. He focuses on reading as a learning community and each member playing a role in understanding what is being read.
In my opinion, the first important aspect of the reading comes from page 107. Johnson explains the bookroll as, “…a signal feature in the cultural landscape” (107). He believes the bookroll is cultural because it transformed the way people read a text. To us, the bookroll is almost useless; however, it has made a great impact on the entire culture of reading from teacher to student. This quote is important because Johnson stresses how the bookroll is a “culture” in itself throughout the text. He also stresses the importance of the “reading system” and the affects it had on a teacher and a student. We could easily apply this to our class because challenging reading will be assigned and we (as students) are going to have to tackle hard topics that we do not understand, but Johnson’s view on the “reading system” is that the student is to try their best at understanding a reading even if it is difficult. In his opinion, if a teacher and student are not working together to tackle a difficult reading then they are doing themselves an injustice.
The second important aspect of the reading comes from page 110. I thought it was very interesting when Johnson explains the use of the bookroll to develop literary relationships with other scholars. He explains that, “Reading is often not so much about using a bookroll to find new texts as it is about getting together with literary friends for a visit with texts already well considered” (110). This is important to the text because the “reading system” establishes literary friendships. If the bookroll did not exist, then we would not have a lot of the great Ancient Greek and Roman scholars collaborating over pieces of literature and making discoveries that helped further mankind. This quote can also be easily applied to this class because we (as students) are developing literary friendships by discussing these intellectual pieces of work in class. As a group, we dissect each piece of literature and learn from it, and that is the “reading system” Johnson is so passionate about. He is passionate about students not only working with their professors, but also working with each other.
The third important aspect is on page 114. Johnson is explaining how intense reading can be. He believes that reading is like digesting our food; it has a process it must go through to be fully digested. He states that when we read it, “…must be softened and… reduced to a pulp by frequent re-perusal” (114). This is important to the overall text because Johnson wants people to understand that a person cannot just read a piece of literature so blindly. One must read with an open mind and allow for creativity to flow through. It is a long process to understand some texts, but that is to be expected. In this class, our readings will also be a process, but we must be able to enjoy the process by taking our time to actually understand what we are reading and apply it.
On page 102, I found it confusing when Johnson states, “…the medium itself interfered with aspects of work flow that we might think fundamental… And there are more familiar complaints about the bookroll, such as the difficulty of locating references in it or the unfixed points for citation” (102). It is almost like he is contradicting himself here because earlier he explains the bookroll as this dynamic invention. I was confused if he is just trying to give us something to think about or does he really not like the bookroll after all?
Also, on page 106, Johnson describes the bookroll as “aggressive” and “impractical.” I do not understand how the bookroll could be “aggressive.” Is he saying that it is aggressive because it lacks the punctuation and paragraph breaks that we are used to seeing? I also do not understand how it is “impractical” because it was clearly useful for the Ancient Greeks and Romans or Johnson would not be using it as an example throughout his article. Is it impractical because it is not like what we read today?
My one question to Johnson and to the class is would you consider our new forms of “bookrolls,” such as e-books and tablets a good way of forming a reading system? Could the medium in which we read a text affect how we view a piece of text and reduce our level of communication? Or can we still establish a strong literary friendship and reading system over a tablet?