THE VISUAL AND TACTILE ASPECTS of the written word are explored in this exhibition. Although the subject is words, we have avoided textual content in favor of physical context. In presenting written texts that differ from the familiar, we intend to show that, far from being a uniform box of rows and columns, the written word has been recorded historically in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Books were embellished, handsomely illustrated, jealously guarded, and moralistically expurgated. When the contents were too charged, impious, or explicit, the book might even be destroyed—ample indication of how content depends upon the physical vehicle for survival. With the printing press and mass production, formats became more standardized, losing in the process some of their former whimsy and splendor. But the question of how a text is "packaged" is once again an issue, as computers change our assumptions about the permanence, ownership, and privacy of words.

When we approached the Library with our proposal, we wanted it to reflect our common commitment to teaching interconnections in history, and its written, visual, and material culture to our college and high school audiences. We wrote a curriculum guide to accompany the exhibition, which the Library has kindly distributed to regional high schools. Faculty from Cornell, Ithaca College, and Binghamton University volunteered to lecture at Ithaca High School. In all respects, the project has been a collaboration in which strong institutional and personal ties between Cornell and Ithaca have been confirmed.

Most objects in the exhibition are from the collections of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, except for a few notable items generously lent by members of the community. It has been a pleasure working with Robert Caulkins, Mark Dimunation, Robert Harris, David Owens, Andrew and Nancy Ramage, Michael Twomey, James Tyler, Oscar Vázquez, Computerland of Ithaca, Temple Beth-El and Rabbi Scott Glass, and the entire staff of the Division. We thank them for their generous contributions to this project and to our community. Working with such individuals has been enriching; we have learned a great deal from this exhibition and look forward to sharing it with you.

Maryterese Pasquale-Bowen
D. Fairchild Ruggles