Without ink, pen and printer are useless: Lecture Nov 5 in Kelowna

Ink "…is a miraculous invention that really goes to the heart of our culture."

Do you think of ink?

For as many books, magazines, and newspapers that you have read, you may never have asked yourself about the social life of ink.

And that’s where Ted Bishop, an internationally recognized author and academic, is different from the rest of us.

In his role as a professor of English literature and film studies at the University of Alberta, Bishop is known for “poring over stains on paper made by some of the greatest minds in literature” (to borrow words from his publisher). Recently, though, the Edmonton-based Bishop started to contemplate the ink itself. And a forthcoming book, The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder And Our Relationship With The Written Word, will reveal the discoveries he has made along a route that traverses thousands of years, continents, cultures and technologies.

He’ll be reading from the soon-to-be-released book, being published by Penguin Random House Canada, at a presentation at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., as part of a week-long College initiative to highlight authors, scholarly and creative activity, and research.

“We take ink for granted,” says Bishop. “Unless the pen or the printer runs out of it.

“But this is a miraculous invention that really goes to the heart of our culture. There are countless fascinating aspects to this ubiquitous substance – I found myself enthralled as I researched the topic.”

Bishop has a pedigree that promises a rewarding read. He had published on Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and modernist publishing but, after a motorcycle crash in which he broke his back and collapsed his lungs, he wrote his first cross-over book: Riding with Rilke, an account of a motorcycle ride from Edmonton to Austin, Texas to work in the James Joyce archives at the Harry Ransom Center.

The book garnered a Governor-General’s award nomination in Canada, and 11 words of praise in Playboy magazine in the U.S. (You can read more about Bishop at tedbishop.com.)

“Ted is a highlight of our week of focusing on authors, scholarly and creative activity and research,” explains Ross Tyner, Okanagan College’s Director of Library Services. “We invited him to come to read from his forthcoming book because he bridges the gap between the academic world and popular literature. His first book was a fascinating read and I expect this work will be too.”

The week-long celebration at the College features many of the institution’s own faculty and staff who are accomplished and nationally known for their books, novels, articles and research, explains Tyner.

“We have organized an entire series of presentations and lectures that span the region and an array of topic areas, as well as displays of OC authors’ work in each OC campus library.”

All are open to the public – a complete list can be found online at Okanagan.bc.ca/ocauthors2014.