Monica Carroll holds a PhD in philosophy and poetry. She is a Donald Horne Creative and Cultural Fellow for the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. Her academic publications include papers on poetry, space and writing. Her research interests include phenomenology, poetry and empathy. Her widely published experimental prose and poetry includes the book Isolator (Recent Work Press 2017).

Erika Mordek has always used her hands to create: wooden boxes and delicious meals to gardens and handbound books. A bookbinder through will and luck, Mordek received a Kenneth Binns Travelling Fellowship from the National Library of Australia in 2012. Since then has been fascinated with the history of the book. She published The Perfume of Books and The Secret Life of Watermarks in 2017. Her current project is entitled Factotum, fleuron and filgrane. She believes in sharing knowledge and that information should be free.

Given in the flesh

A phenomenology of handedness through Erika Mordek’s bookwork

Bookbinders’ hands know things that other hands do not know. Familiar phrases such as ‘embodied cognition’, ‘muscle memory’ and ‘felt knowing’ attempt to express the exceptional qualities of people who hold knowledge in their body, the binder’s hands being one such example. This paper uses experimental writing to locate embodied knowledge in a material world through phenomenological structures of the given world.