This chapter captures the types of interactions that individuals have historically undertaken with paper. The question here is not what paper did to people, but the other way around: what did people do with paper? With this in mind, the chapter takes advantage of the recent turn that attends to questions of embodiedness when it comes to reading, the way our gestural interactions with media affect the meaning of what is mediated. If paper was an important material paratext that helped construct new kinds of coherent reading communities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it also conditioned new kinds of interactions with printed and nonprint material. With its “openness to alliances and ability to insert itself into a multitude of routines,” paper supported, shaped, and inspired a wide range of routines and techniques of culture, ranging from the pedagogical and scientific to the sociable and artistic. Accordingly, the focus here is on three principal forms of interactivity—folding, cutting, and pasting—and the ways these interactions served different kinds of purposes across different social groups, including child readers, domestic collectors, scholarly editors, and devotional communities.
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