Research Exercise #4: Great Expectations’s first pages

This is hardly an exercise, more of a method of meditating on the material form of Great Expectations in preparation for our How To Treat a Victorian Novel project.

1.Take a look at a few different first pages of Great Expectations – in your penguin, on DJO, find a few versions on Googlebooks, etc – and then look at this project in which several graphic designers create new versions of the first page of Great Expectations, and here are some more from the same book.


2. Do some thinking about what changes – and what stays the same – in these recastings of that page of text. What impact do design choices have on your experience of the text? What kinds of readings to these new texts offer or imply, and what kinds of new readings might they generate? How do they help you think about the distance and connections between the text (defined as the first page of GE extracted from any specific material incarnation) and the book or page?

3.And think about how you might redesign the first page of Great Expectations yourself. (You’re also welcome to try actually doing this for fun, but that’s not part of the assignment.)