On The Atlantic, Lindsay Lynch writes about typesetting letterpress and the en space in “How I Came to Love the En Space”:
To understand letterpress printing, imagine that every letter you see on your screen is an object, a tiny piece of metal. Not only is every letter an object, but every space between every letter is also an object. Every space between words, every space between lines—every bit of white space is an object. When typesetting, a printer has to think about negative space as something tangible.
This is where the en space comes in. An en space is a rectangular piece of metal or wood whose primary purpose is to be smaller than the metal or wood type being printed. The en space isn’t type-high—it doesn’t sit proud like an ordinary character—so it doesn’t catch ink when it’s run through the press. It just holds printable type together in a tight grid, creating spaces between words. It is never seen, but without it, everything printed would be nonsense.
In this presentation, I’m giving my undergraduate Literary Editing & Publishing a little context of modernism and it’s motivations with the hope that they will make the connections between the advent of modernism and the emergence of little magazines. Prior to this discussion, my students will have read several essays in Paper Dreams about literary magazine publishing in the early half of the 20th century.
Thanks to David Gants at Florida State University for posting some of his course material, including a “Book History Timeline,” from his 2007/2011 ENG 5933: History of the Book, as it proved to be incredibly useful in my ENG 3099: Literary Editing & Publishing course at Centenary University. Yesterday, I gave a brief presentation on the history of the book in order to ask the question, where should we begin our investigation into the history of literary publications, including the focus of our course, literary magazines. I linked to Gants’s timeline on my Moodle for students to read, and, throughout the presentation, we discussed the history of writing, texts, and books in broad strokes, from cuneiform to the little magazines (The Dial, The Little Magazine, and Poetry) of the early 20th century. Students arrived in the lecture having read selections on the history of the literary magazine from Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine.
My students read a number of excerpts from the text Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (Atticus Books, 2014) in preparation for today’s class, and one of those excerpts was of Jill Allyn Rosser’s “Reasons for Creating a New Literary Magazine.” In class, I’m asking students to come up with their own reasons for creating a literary magazine in the “Reasons for Creating a New Literary Magazine” in-class writing assignment, and I’m giving them the freedom of being sincere or tongue-in-cheek in their tone.