SHARP 2021 annual conference
Moving texts: from discovery to delivery
Hosted virtually by the University of Münster, in collaboration with the Law and Literature research group (DFG SFB 1385)
The text introduces a book publishing and reading literary phenomenon called "samizdat". The aim of the study is to expand its known meaning and to consider its aesthetic, as well as the scope and organization of the "communicational network". Examples from the Bulgarian literary reality are given, which are little known and presented and interpreted in this way for the first time.
Literary phenomena are the product of a certain time and are formed in a historical context, socially determined by a number of cultural factors. Their definitions can change, to expand in their connotations and change their application. In its ontology, the concept of samizdat (a book that publishes itself, or is distributed by its readers outside of the official supply chain, because for political reasons it is unpublishable) has an identical meaning - an invariable meaning, but also a property to expand the scope of its terminological field.
In the book science, historian Robert Darnton views "self publishing", as a phenomenon that can function in his iconic model of the communications circuit model of the book (four stages can be identified: authorship, production, distribution and reading).
In modern science, there is a difference in the interpretation of the term - from the strictly political meaning - an underground publication not allowed by the authorities to non-traditional publication, self-publication with small circulation, or a manuscript distributed personally by the author.
Samizdat is a literary phenomenon in which the fluid book supply chain "from discovery to delivery" is most clearly observed. Often fluid chain between authors and readers, probably due to the fact that the reader is an author in samizdat. The reader makes a choice, but beyond the genre and the previous tradition in the connection of work and author.
In the mid-17th century, the Sufi brotherhood al-Nāṣiriyya was founded in the utmost south of Morocco, at times one of the most widespread Sufi communities in North Africa. The founder of the brotherhood, Maḥammad b. Nāṣir (1603-1674) and his son Aḥmad b. Nāṣir (1647-1717) built up an extensive library in the village of Tamgrūt, which contains today about 4,700 manuscripts from several parts of the Islamic world. The research project aims to answer the questions of where the manuscripts came from, how they arrived in the remote village on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and what priorities were set while collecting them. For this purpose, the manuscripts are examined based on the library catalog and a selection of original manuscripts. On the other hand, the network of Maḥammad b. Nāṣir and his son is sketched with the help of a travelogue to the Arabian East and several biographical works.
Early modern textbooks were not only carriers of intellectual ideas of their contemporary or classic authors, but also tangible outcome of an economic process that involved different actors like printers, publishers, papermakers, booksellers and eventually the textbook’s buyers. During my research I combine a book archaeological approach with a focus on the transregional book trade of printed textbooks. By doing so, I aim to show when and how a printed textbook became an economically feasible project in early modern Louvain, how students, professors, printers and publishers produced it together within and beyond the city walls of Louvain, and also how these interactions determined the textbook’s materiality. Reconstructing the printers’, professors’ and students’ networks in the production process of printed textbooks is also the rationale behind my newly developed database manuale Lovaniense, which offers a survey of textbooks that were used at the Old University of Louvain and printed in Louvain and abroad.
So far, most bibliographically-informed research on canon formations has prioritized texts’ publishing histories in up-market print. Such media, however, were accessible only to elite readerships, and therefore fail to shed light on how many texts also became popular classics familiar to less privileged readers. The project I will present in this session focuses instead on cheaply printed, mass-produced, and widely distributed media, and argues that these more affordable print forms also contributed to the establishment of an Anglo-American literary canon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The project aims not only to provide new and complementary reception histories for a number of authors (Watts, Bunyan, Defoe, Swift, Scott, and Burns) that attained canonical status between the 1660s and 1860s. By showing how inexpensive printed forms also crucially shaped access, communities of readers, and the canon itself, it will also correct our notion of canonisation as an exclusively top-down phenomenon.
What do digital media imply for the literary sphere? The current prevalence of a celebrity culture in social media has for example evoked high public interest in authors and enables single-entrepreneurs like self-publishers more immediate access to the book market as well as the broader literary public.
However, it is yet to be determined whether these latest progressions are symptomatic of greater changes in the sphere's structure or merely manifesting in smaller adaptions of the established institutions. Determining key characteristics of how actors in the literary sphere are making use of digital media will broaden our understanding of the current development as it allows to estimate their general implications in greater detail.
The project intention is to empirically study how Austrian authors are currently utilising social media for the purposes of their writing careers. Thus, it will visualise perspectives on established literary institutions from within the sphere.
In the mid – seventies of the last century and in the context of the Franco’s regime, a series of terrorist attacks against publishing houses and bookstores took place in Spain. This proposal focuses on one of the most important, the one that happened against the book warehouse of Enlace Distributor in Barcelona on July 3, 1974. Enlace Distributor was created in 1970 by a group of publishing firms that were part of the publishing avant–garde and had an outstanding role, because of their democratic condition and their particular editorial selection, that still has a great influence in the Spanish and Latin American context. This attack was perpetrated by factions of the extreme right that were reluctant to assume the end of the regime and that looked for paralegal ways to confront the democratic proposals. These attacks produced economic losses that caused the closure of some publishing houses and decisive changes in the circuits of the book.
My research examines how The Brownies’ Book (1920-1921), the first magazine for African American children, sought to create progressive models of citizenship and childhood for the modern black child. The Brownies’ Book offered a rich variety of literature that remain important contributions to the development of black American children’s literature. In this presentation I will highlight one area of the project; how representations of nature, particularly birds, functioned as powerful allies to the black child. In W.E.B DuBois’s column ‘As The Crow Flies’ and contributions by Effie Lee Newsome, birds and bird characters are presented as simultaneously beautiful, strange and sometimes troubled creatures, whose existence in nature and movements across the world provide examples of the magazine’s attempts to empower black children with a sense of their resilience and ability to move through a hostile, changing world.
Digitization and concentration of the media landscape continue to change the public sphere and challenge traditional publishing houses to defend their position in the field of cultural production.
The dissertation is designed as a transatlantic comparison of the United States' and German publishing field. It presents an analysis of the similarities and differences of the two publishing ecosystems.
Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the literary field and distinction are combined with Robert Darnton's Communication Circuit to present an analysis of what Darnton termed, “the socio-economic conjunctures” of trade publishing.
Interviews with editors and publishers at conglomerate, midsized, independent, and non-profit publishing houses in the US and Germany complement the research and give insight into the socio-political role of trade publishers in a regulated and unregulated book market.
The marginal reader is notoriously elusive in studies of the history of reading. This project aims to introduce queer theory and queer history methodologies to the history of reading in order to recover evidence of one marginalised group in nineteenth-century Britain: queer women readers. Working with the letters, diaries, and lifewriting of a group of queer women writers from across the century, this project combines quantitative data collection and analysis with a close textual reading approach, in order to document my case studies’ reading habits through the lens of their own historicized understanding of their reading. This will produce a dynamic model of queer reading across a period in which the foundations of modern LGBTQ+ identities were emerging. This 5-1-5 paper will suggest some initial findings from working with Geraldine Jewsbury’s letters to Jane Welsh Carlyle, and raise some intersectional limitations inherent in this approach.
Law impacts and influences every aspect of life in modern society, and discussions of law and of legal themes are pervasive in contemporary writing. This thesis will study how ideas around the law are being examined by Australian women in books published between 2009 and 2019. This period saw significant evolutions in cultural understandings of how the legal system in Australia is disproportionately negatively impacting women and minorities, and the aim of this thesis is to understand how these changes have influenced Australian books and book culture. This will be achieved through not only studying a selection of the books published in these years, but by examining conversations that have occurred around these books, including what literary prizes have said about these books, and which books they have chosen to recognise; how readers are writing about the books in their reviews of them online; and how professional reviewers are reviewing these books in newspapers and industry publications.
The most critical moment in the history of modern kabbalah was the transmission of Safedian kabbalah—as formulated by Solomon Alqabeṣ (c. 1500–1576), his disciple Moses Cordovero (1522–1570), and Isaac Luria (1534–1572)—to the European continent. While much headway has been made concerning the dissemination of Lurianic kabbalah, the earlier circulation of Alqabeṣ’s and Cordovero’s kabbalah remains a lacuna.
My research—charting the reception history of Cordoverean kabbalah—begins with a reconstruction of the material circulation of this lore. Delving into various manuscripts, comprised of different compositions by Alqabeṣ and Cordovero, I have discovered a cadre of codices that belonged to and were annotated by the Italian kabbalist Mordekhai Dato (1527–c.1590). As Dato visited these kabbalists in 1560 and returned to Italy in 1561 it may be determined that these codices were the first on European soil.
My research combines book history and material culture to foreground the granularities of everyday interactions with books. I examine the contents of home bookshelves, tracing reading practices across domestic, retail and industrial spaces. My central research question is: what do people do with the books on their bookshelves beyond reading them? Drawing from photographs of bookshelves, this paper examines how booksellers and bookstagrammers influence the colour-coordinated ‘rainbow’ bookshelf trend.
My project focuses on the early history of the Loeb Classical Library (1911-), a bilingual book series which publishes Greek and Latin original texts together with English translations of these texts on the parallel page. This book series is a remarkable publication within the field of classical studies, as the project originated from the desire to make ancient literature more accessible to a wider audience, while also being attractive to classical scholars. Although the presence and the constancy of this series is nowadays easily taken for granted, my research uncovers that its creators encountered many challenges in creating and maintaining the international enterprise at the start of the twentieth century. By examining unpublished archival material, the individual Loeb volumes, and the series’ reception, I aim to show how cultural enterprises such as the Loeb Classical Library are shaped and adjusted by the complex relations of cooperation and competition.
Drawing on the qualitative and quantitative text mining tools afforded by the open-source framework TXM, my project aims to build a model to measure reading emotions within vast corpora of ordinary readers’ testimonies. The model will be tested on a selected corpus of about 800 letters of applicants to the popular jury of the Prix du Livre Inter, a French literary prize delivered by Radio France since 1975. My project will also benefit and hopefully contribute to enrich the annotation tool developed in the context of the European initiative READ-IT. My thesis aims to offer theoretical and methodological contributions to the current scholarship on reading studies by: 1) providing new and verifiable insight on the emotions triggered by reading, with a focus on the European context; 2) further exploring the potential of the interdisciplinary encounter between reading response studies and text mining tools and processes.
The recent ‘oceanic turn’ in the humanities has resulted in a renewed interest in oceans and seas as sites of historical interaction and lived experience. The ‘blue humanities’ with their focus on watery worlds have enriched much recent historical and literary scholarship by paying closer attention to the environment in which human activities take place. This panel proposes to bring an oceanic perspective to book history, a field which has so far been left relatively ‘dry’ and which has not yet been brought into dialogue with oceanic studies in sustained and substantial ways. The two papers in this panel focus on the practices and experiences of writing and reading at sea in order to interrogate how literary practices are shaped by oceanic environments and by movement across the sea. Scholars in the history of reading and writing have convincingly argued that such practices are firmly situated and specific to time and place, and that the spaces in which writing and reading occur have a profound influence on the practices and experiences of literary activities. The two papers in this panel then ask: how do shipboard spaces and the environment of the ocean shape and give meaning to writing and reading, but also, how do literary practices taking place at sea mediate and construct oceanic spaces?
Both papers focus on shipboard diaries composed in the nineteenth century on voyages of migration from Britain to the Australasian colonies. These diaries, as texts and objects, tell us much about how seafarers drew on literary practices to make sense of their transits. Yet, equally revealing are the traces and the ‘stains’ of the sea in the content, composition and materiality of these diaries, suggestive of the significance of the natural environment for the imaginative as well as practical realms of writing and reading.
Moving Bodies and Moving Texts: Reading and Writing in Oceanic Environments
During his voyage from London to Port Chalmers, New Zealand, on board the City of Dunedin in late 1869, emigrant John Richard Morris kept a diary, recording in brief entries his and his family’s experiences and activities on board, events taking place, observations about fellow passengers, about the weather, encounters with sea animals, wind direction, sailing speed and distance covered. Somewhat unusually, his wife Marina added her own entries to the same diary, sharing the experience of travelling across the sea though writing about it with her husband in the same text. The Morris’ diary is one of many such personal documents kept during voyages of migration, suggesting the significance of the practice of writing for recording, and also for mediating and living through oceanic and biographical transits. Seaborne writing often gave structure and rhythm to time spent at sea, and rendered unfamiliar oceanic spaces and experiences familiar by describing and inscribing them in time and place. Reading, too, offered ways of passing time and making sense of sea voyages that could last several weeks if not months, and passengers frequently noted their reading activities in diaries. Taking this 1869 shipboard diary as a starting point, this paper explores literary practices at sea in the second half of the nineteenth century, the age of ‘steam and print’. In particular, the paper focuses on the interrelationship of oceanic environments with literary practices. How did being at sea and the space of the ship shape reading and writing?
Shipboard Diaries as Navigational Instruments
Analysing diaries composed by Edward Beck on the Lady Frances (1823) and Margaret MacGillivray on the Torrens (1893-4), this paper examines the ways in which individuals embarking on their first oceanic voyages kept diaries as a means of orienting themselves in their new environments. Beck, who already had experience as a coaster, records in his journal his gradual mastery of the arts of deep-water navigation and, more generally, his efforts to ingest the knowledge and the language of professional seafarers. MacGillivray, a passenger, is not learning the technical arts of navigation, but like Beck she self-consciously records maritime argot in a way that actualises her gradual (and often problematic) immersion in an oceanic environment. After examining the overlaps and the differences between these two documents, the paper concludes with some reflections on the specific value of consulting physical documents written at sea.
This project will investigate library records and records of individual reader responses to shed new light upon political, social, and cultural change in Britain between the years 1800 and 1832. This project will look at how readers –both conservative and radical– operated within a period that witnessed unprecedented participation in parliamentary and extra-parliamentary affairs and will analyse the impact of both local and national politics upon reading communities. It will focus upon the records of two subscription libraries during the early nineteenth century, the Bristol Library Society and the Leighton Library in Dunblane. Using borrowing and administrative records, this project will add to our understanding of the processes through which readers engaged with texts during decades of political and social turmoil whilst also querying the political engagement of readers and associational communities within the context of larger political and national questions in the build up to reform in 1832.
When a supply of boxes from Mudie’s Select Library was discovered after a shipwreck, the novels inside them were unharmed. This incident not only highlights the sturdiness of those boxes but that Mudie’s was a global enterprise. Established in 1842, the library has become synonymous with Victorian middleclass moral values. While English readers consumed novels via subscription, the library’s second-hand books were shipped across the globe from Germany, Austria and Russia to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India and China. I examine Mudie’s library as a global network, simultaneously reinforcing and resisting systems of imperial power. Although the library furthered an imperialist agenda by distributing books to readers in the colonies, its ‘select’ nature was undermined by transporting books from the private realm of the English subscription library to public libraries across the world. Through exploring the global reach of Mudie’s, this paper reappraises library circulation from a decolonial perspective.
Concentrating on nineteenth-century periodical literature and placing specific focus on contributions by women as evidence-based key archival sources, my research tracks the professional working lives, concerns, networks, and connections of the mid nineteenth-century Irish woman writer. Excavations thus far reveal complex and empowering networks forged across apparently conservative, often male-dominated publications, and in addition, across publications edited and managed by women writers, and philanthropists. More particularly, it shows that women were shapers of contemporary discourse: recognising the power of the periodical, they capitalised on publishing space, contributing cross-genre accounts, to express opinion, seek change and improve their prospects. Given that this project is strongly archival in direction, the challenges and opportunities of digitisation are a central consideration as is the traditional versus digital conundrum. My thesis argues for a blended approach capitalising on the accessibility and searchability of the digital archive but returning to the material archive for thorough discovery.
This study considers how two interdependent modes of seriality – continuity and subject formation – can be productively traced within a single issue of a periodical (Sheehan 2018), to uncover how the serial (re)production of Aboriginal representations in nineteenth-century colonial publications such as The Queenslander (Australia, 1866-1939) worked to support settler colonial subject formations and identities. Through a deliberate emphasis on the aspects of ‘disruption’ and ‘incompleteness’ inherent in the supposedly self-contained structure of the periodical supplement (Allen 2014), this work also underscores the fragility of many of these settler representations. Empire-building is always an ongoing ‘unfinished business’ (Burton 1999), and by reading across a periodical as a whole we can draw attention to the ‘gaps’ and disruptions in these fictional settler texts that might productively be read as counternarratives to the larger drives of these settler publications to reinforce and justify colonisation and white supremacy.
The presentation will focus on the utilization of topic modeling—a computational method for detecting broad tends in the content of a textual corpus—for tracing the evolution of writing about the environment in magazines during the nineteenth century. Drawing on one of my dissertation chapters as an example, I will offer a very brief overview of one of the key patterns in the development of environmental writing in nineteenth-century periodicals and also describe some the key affordances and limitations of topic modeling for analyzing historical texts. I will demonstrate what this data-informed approach has to offer not only in terms of our understanding of the evolution of environmental writing during the period, but also as a method for working with large heterogeneous periodical corpora.
The first half of the nineteenth century experienced an unprecedented interrelation of reading and writing cultures. Histories of this period underscore the social, technological, and economic conditions that accelerated print consumption and production; however, few studies attend to the diverse responses to a transitioning print environment. My project argues that the new “audiences” of the nineteenth century—generally defined as women and the working-class—were not passive consumers, but responsive agents who innovated the technological, aesthetic, and theoretical construction of industrial print during its dynamic nascency. Each chapter close-reads little-known material objects to reveal negotiations between emerging and entrenched print cultures. My archive consists of broadsides and chapbooks from the Catnach Press; a Chartist adaptation of The Pickwick Papers, “Sam Weller’s Scrap-sheet”; and two print-manuscript objects produced by Sara Coleridge. Together, they present the industrial book as a culturally-negotiated process rather than a cathected commercial product.
This paper explores the ways in which Archbishop Matthew Parker used print to control access to important medieval works. It considers how he provided controlled access to manuscripts in his possession via print through editing and paratextual materials. Consideration will be given to the Anglo-Saxon works of Asser and Aelfric put out by Parker and questions will be raised about the absence of Bede's works from Parker's printing projects.
My project explores developments in illustration practices over the ‘transitional period’ from manuscript to print in the fifteenth century, by studying the funds of four ‘transitional figures’: book entrepreneurs who produced both illustrated manuscripts and illustrated printed books. The goal is to reconstruct if and how their illustration practices evolved in the face of their adoption of the printing press. The four book producers - Johann Bämler, Colard Mansion, Ludovicus Ravescot and Felice Feliciano – worked in different parts of Europe, and had their own distinct business and clientele. Taking a comparative approach allows to map how each in his individual milieu grappled with the same issue of accommodating the technical developments brought about by the advent of printing in their illustration practices. However, going beyond the technical aspects, this project is moreover interested in how traditions and innovations in their illustration practices impacted the books’ layout, distribution and use.
This presentation focuses on German language editions of the Declaration of Independence, part of my dissertation examining the dissemination of the Declaration in the weeks following July 4, 1776. German American printers in Philadelphia were among the first to publish the Declaration of Independence, but this feat is even more impressive when these texts are compared to the Declaration as printed in German newspapers in Europe. A close reading indicates that European translations were literal, sometimes word-by-word, as befits a news item, whereas German American printers provided practical translations, rooted in an understanding of natural rights. The phrase “abuses and usurpations,” for example, was rendered in Steiner and Cist’s Philadelphia broadside as “Misshandlungen und gewaltsamen Eingriffen,” while the Hamburg Reichspostreuter translation reads “Unbilligkeiten und Usurpationen.” The speed and care with which German language printers in Philadelphia worked reflects the political engagement of German Americans at this key moment.
My dissertation focuses on a largely unacknowledged intermediary in the life cycles of copyrighted texts: literary estates. Estates—and I focus on twentieth-century estates, specifically—have been largely unexamined as arbiters of cultural production, even though they determine the accessibility of archives, the dissemination of quotation permissions, and the possibility of posthumous publication and adaptation. Because they control quotation permissions and, often, archival access, estates disproportionately influence the trajectory of textual objects, when and whether these objects reach the public, and even how the public receives these works. I posit a version of Robert Darnton’s “communications circuit” updated and reorganized around the apparatus of the literary estate, which I call the “posterity circuit”; my posterity circuit, I argue, better accounts for the multiple lifecycles of texts and textual objects—during an author’s life, but especially afterwards—as literary estates emerge as surrogate authors poised to dictate textual afterlives.
In 1557, a small guild of printers and booksellers in London created a new apparatus for managing their rights to publish books. Developing out of a pre-existing system of royal privileges and dependent on legal powers recently granted by the crown, the ‘Stationers’ Register’ was established by London’s Stationers’ Company as the primary mechanism for affirming, monitoring, and protecting individual members’ ‘copies’—that is, the rights to publish particular works. This innovative system of textual commodification would eventually become the basis for modern Anglo-American copyright but its development during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries also saw the ‘copy’ itself to take on a life of its own as a new kind of textual commodity.
This panel brings together two emerging scholars of the Stationers’ Company whose research into ‘copies’ sheds important new light on the workings of the early modern London book trade. The origins of Anglo-American copyright have been much researched but what has been previously underexplored are the ways in which the Stationers’ Register and the ‘copies’ recorded therein developed their own distinct sociologies of texts. ‘Copies’ were never static entities; they were dynamic textual commodities, created, interpreted, and exchanged by Stationers, both through the Register itself and through transactions outside the Company such as in bequests. Drawing on new interdisciplinary methodologies, especially those used by archival historians, this panel will rework D. F. McKenzie’s famous ‘sociology of texts’ to show how, through the active agency of key archival records (specifically guild accounts and individual wills), these ‘copies in motion’ profoundly shaped relationships between the Company and its members, and between individual Stationers themselves.
The Social Nexus of the Stationers’ Register, 1557-1637
The royal incorporation of the Stationers’ Company in 1557 gave it full regulatory oversight of the London book trade. One of the Company’s most significant innovations was the introduction of the Stationers’ Registers: these were initially intended to establish a more consistent system of recording the Company’s financial transactions, which included records that pertained to the granting of licences to publishers for the right to publish texts (‘copies’), but within a few decades became a dedicated system for managing publishing rights.
I will consider the role of the Stationers’ Registers as a social nexus between 1557 and 1637. The registers serve as a near-continual record of book trade dialogues, in which the various agencies and intentions of the industry were given a voice; the correlation between authority and social relevance emphasises the value of the social space afforded by the registers’ textualities. In order to maintain their meaning and relationship to the community the registers were frequently ‘reformed’ to serve the needs of the Company and to re-engage with the concerns of its membership. Therefore, the registers were not inert documents but dynamic texts that responded and adapted to their social contexts.
I will explore the inherent social agency of the registers as illustrated by the dualistic position that they inhabited, as both regulatory mechanisms and intermediaries between the institution and its members. Variations within the forms and formats of the registers highlight the ways in which the expectations of the court that governed the company, the Company’s clerk, and the individual were negotiated; and the registers’ infrastructure, of accounts and accountability, placed these negotiations within the corporate value system. Whilst the sociability of the registers was important for cementing social cohesion within the Company, their mediation was crucial to the commodification of key forms of social interaction.
Death of a Stationer: Copies in early seventeenth century publishers’ wills
The English book trade of the early seventeenth century mostly operated within the aegis of the Company of Stationers in London, a guild community based in a small geographical area acting as a nexus for the movement of texts. The people engaged in this trade did so primarily for the purpose of commodifying texts. To affirm and protect their interests the Company developed the concept of the ‘copy’, a mutually recognised right to publish a text. These ‘copies’ were fiercely guarded within the Company but, crucially, also bartered, exchanged and gifted by Stationers (that is, members of the Company). The legitimacy and validity of the ‘copy’ came from the authority of the Company and its systems, especially formal registration in the Stationers’ Register, meaning it was a product of its social environment.
One way that this environment shaped the book trade was through the movement of these copies between Stationers, and this paper will focus on one particular phenomenon: the bequeathing of copies through wills. Wills were key mechanisms for distributing capital, both real and social, between individuals, and ‘copies’ were able to function in both ways. In practical terms, ‘copies’ only existed within the Company’s aegis but their circulation through wills show how they took on meaning outside the Company’s official records. Using examples from the early seventeenth century this paper will look at bequests of copies in wills and in doing so it is hoped to gain a better sense of their practical movement and their perception by Stationers.
Conceptions of authorship have changed from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries—from the Romantic notion of 'the author as genius' to Barthes’ assertion of 'the death of the author' (1967) to Skains’ 'demotic author' (2019). However, with people writing blogs, fanfiction and social media posts, and self-publishing through platforms such as Kindle Direct Publishing and Wattpad, who is an author and what does authorship mean today? My project investigates authorship practices on Archive of Our Own (AO3) and Wattpad in order to understand the interrelationships between authority, authenticity and legitimacy, and consequently authorship and publishing, to conceptualise authorship in the digital context. I will accomplish this through close reading and qualitative analyses of textual and paratextual content, including author notes and readers’ comments, of case studies on AO3 and Wattpad. Within the 5-1-5 format, I will elaborate on the rationale, methods and significance of my project.
In the spring of 1995, six intrepid literary magazines published websites to supplement their print issues, and Mississippi Review launched the first full-content issue of a literary magazine on the web. Poets and poetry editors encountered an entirely new set of challenges in translating the bibliographic codes of print to the web. This study examines early approaches to the transformation of print poetry into web-based literary magazines, as a form of translation. Literary magazines and the field of poetry had been long engaged in a relationship of symbiosis: The field supplied magazines with quality content and the cultural influence that stems from that content, while magazines—as the space where the production of poetry is realized—provided the field with its most visible platform for institutionalization. The archive of 1995 issues of the literary magazines provide the empirical contexts for comparison of formal poetic elements using processes from translation theory.
Historical European Martial Arts, or HEMA, identifies itself as the "traditional” martial arts of medieval and early modern Europe, which includes fencing, dueling, and wrestling. Contemporary researchers and practitioners approach these arts through a corpus of manuscript and printed texts that document combat forms and techniques. “Foundational” texts include Royal Armories MS I.33 (the “Walpurgis Fechtbuch”), the manuscripts attributed to Hans Talhoffer, or 16th century treatises of Italian masters like Achille Marozzo & Camillo Agrippa. I discuss how these texts are used in contemporary scholarship and practice and the production of contemporary cultural heritage and memory, and how they are identified, translated, circulated, and compiled by a community of practice. I also examine the development of community archival projects focused on HEMA materials like the "Wiktenauer" database and their role in the transmission of book forms, the production of cultural memory & embodied practice, and the formation of contemporary heritage.
My proposed presentation stems from the intersection of my PhD research on the curation of Canadian poetry readings and practical experience as a poet. Launching my poetry collection, Hell Light Flesh, in September 2020 during global travel restrictions due to COVID19, implied rethinking sociability, promotion through mobility, and the circulation of texts between author and public. Working within the legal procedures in place in Montreal, I curated a series of 6-person outdoor, park-based book launches (that is, as small as possible, rather than the default as large as possible, and repurposing public space), always maintaining 2-metre distance between attendees and maximizing the intimacy of the events through in-depth discussion, rather than the rote book launch reading format. Working with rather than against the unprecedented pandemic conditions, these events amplified the mediating role of the event curator to frame but also to challenge preconceptions of the book launch as form.
CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura began its original serialization in Nakayoshi, a monthly shōjo manga magazine, in May 1996, but did not enter the North American market until 1999. What makes Cardcaptor Sakura’s transnational flow between Japan and North America especially interesting though is what its republishing efforts by six different publishers over a span of twenty-five years can tell us about the material and textual shifts in the world of print manga publishing. Its sequel, Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, provides a more recent example of the increasingly digital history of manga publishing in North America. An in-depth analysis of each edition’s digital and/or print properties was complemented by in-depth interviews and questionnaires completed by editors of various manga publishing houses. Emerging trends in manga publishing including collector’s editions, digital first editions, and the advent of simulpublishing for the global marketplace were also documented to demonstrate the networked nature of publishing.
John Wolfe, sixteenth-century printer and provocateur more than once called a “Machiavel” by his London colleagues, did not confine his mischief-making to his home country. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, Wolfe successfully marketed his reprints of Italian banned books using false imprints, testing the limits of censors and licensing laws across national and confessional boundaries.
Rather than translating Machiavelli and Aretino into English, Wolfe “translated” himself into a series of printer-personas ranging from the fancifully piratical (Barbagrigia) to outright identity theft (“the heirs of Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari”) in the extensive paratexts of his editions. Wolfe’s use of false imprints was a virtuosic display of his deep knowledge of the Continental book trade, as well as his desire to access the transnational network represented by the Fair as both a commercial and social space. His exceptional career usefully complicates ideas in book history of authenticity, identity, and center/periphery.
An article in the Sydney Gazette on July 10, 1834 decreed that “Libraries to be useful, ought to be constituted so as to diffuse knowledge easily and widely.” However, the idea of what constitutes easy and wide diffusion has shifted over time, rendering the “public library” of the early nineteenth century unrecognizable today. Via an examination of the evolution of the Australian Subscription Library (1826-1869)’s membership and variable locations alongside the development of the idea of the multi-class "public" library as expressed in the papers of the day, I argue for that the combination of GIS technology with historical library studies reveals the centrality of libraries in heated, ongoing debates throughout the nineteenth century which shaped developing issues of class, nationalism, and governmental responsibility in Australia.
“Yes, this is my album”: Victorian Collections of Scraps, Signatures, and Seaweed is a digital exhibit featuring Victorian era scrapbooks/albums held at the University of Victoria (UVic) Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. Alongside the showcased albums, the exhibit provides a historical overview of the Victorian pastime of collecting things to display inside of books. Drawing from Victorian era manuals, the exhibit focuses on the history and construction of traditional scrapbooks, autograph albums, and seaweed albums. Full, digitized versions of each featured album are incorporated into the exhibit, with the aim of drawing researchers to UVic’s archival holdings. During this session, I will discuss the process of designing the exhibit over the course of a remotely conducted student work term that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, I will speak to the challenges and opportunities that came along with making the featured scrapbooks/albums openly accessible online.
Zawaya (Corners/Angles) is a Pan-Arabic magazine published in Paris in 1989–1990 by a group of Lebanese intellectuals brought together by exile and common social, political, cultural, and journalistic preoccupations. This presentation explores Zawaya as an archive that presents us with a real-time portrait of the Arab world as perceived from the editors’ Parisian exile. Through a combination of paratextual, visual, and editorial sectioning analyses of a corpus of three editions published between July 1989 and March 1990, I will trace the magazine’s itinerary along its cycle of conception, production, and reception, explore its authorial significance as one that carries the evolving discourse of an engaged generation of Leftist intellectuals, examine its failure to achieve a fixed editorial form and periodicity due to difficulties in securing sustainable funding and distribution, and conceptualize this failure as constitutive of the magazine’s cultural significance within a constructive view of culture.
This dissertation uses techniques of discourse analysis to examine collections and processes in formal and community archives. Focusing on collections related to two race riots of the early 1990s, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Los Angeles, California, I explore the ways archival practices can create and combat bias in secondary historical writing, especially surrounding racially contentious events. After completing an analysis of the secondary literature, I will explore collections in archives of different kinds in each city, and contrast the materials and the perspectives they represent while considering the mission of each institution. Ultimately, I will use these materials to write a comprehensive narrative of each riot, and compare them with those which have come before. My analysis will include positionality of myself and other historians, as well as the collections cited and theoretical frames used. I will consider racial bias in the existing body of race riot literature, and the ways grassroots archives offer an opportunity to broaden the scope of primary sources used to historicize these events.
This panel attends to the real and imagined mobility of early modern paper, as it resists the fixity of the codex form. The panel takes two case studies – one book, and one library – which illustrate early modern texts on the move in partial and fragmented form. While Thomas Urquhart foregrounds the ‘loose sheets’ of his past and present writing materials, the epitexts surrounding Samuel Pepys’ library perform a bookish coherence and stasis which is undermined by evidence of archival reshuffling and pasted-in sheets. Fusing bibliography and literary analysis, these two papers foreground the impermanence of the codex. This panel considers why ‘paper on the move’ matters, both for local textual readings and within the history of the book.
Going Through the Motions: Waste Paper and the Life Cycle of Early Modern Books
In the ‘Epistle Liminary’ to his 1652 Ekskybalauron, or The Jewel, Thomas Urquhart makes the first of a series of outlandish claims that structure the text and characterize his writings. He describes how, a Royalist soldier at the Battle of Worcester with a trunk full of manuscripts, his papers were looted and plundered. They were used by the victorious Parliamentarians and the local shopkeepers to wrap wares and to kindle tobacco. Having lost the majority of The Jewel, Urquhart claims that he re-composed the text on the fly – or rather, ‘betwixt the case and the printing press’ – writing ‘upon the loose sheets of cording-quires’ which, as he ‘minced & tore them, look[ed] like pieces of waste paper, troublesome to get rallied, after such dispersive scattredness.’ This picaresque narrative or unfortunate object biography – depending on whether or not you take Urquhart at his word – introduces us to the spaces in which waste paper originated and circulated in early modern England. Using the history of Urquhart’s disobedient text as a framing device, this paper will outline the ways in which waste paper was created and employed in the period. It will make the case for the capacity of waste paper to reveal the itinerant and fluctuating nature of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century books, as well as its importance in early modern thought.
Fictions of Unalterability: The Shifting Paperscape of Samuel Pepys' Library
This paper uses the library of Samuel Pepys to figure textual archives as dynamic literary and material sites. The descriptive titles in the catalogue of Samuel Pepys' library, along with the will in which Pepys left instructions as to its upkeep, insist that the books in this collection are firmly in place: fixed, and 'inalterable'. However, the updated shelf marks within the catalogue, as well as the deleted shelf marks on the flyleaves, make legible the mobile lives of these books within the library. This paper will suggest the literary payoff of tracking texts on the move - not only as books move around bookshelves, but also as loose sheets move in and out of books. Taking 'material proximity' as a mode of reading, I suggest that the moving paper which constitutes what we now call Samuel Pepys' library creates new juxtapositions, and new material readings of texts. These readings undermine both the rhetoric of stasis found in the will and the catalogue, and the stability of the codex which shelf marks imagine. This library prompts a richer sense of the early modern text which is at once less bookish and more mobile.
Black Americans in the United States are in a fight for our lives, to say nothing of freedom. Over the past year, the COVID-19 virus has killed African Americans in disproportionately high numbers and alt-right, white supremacist groups have targeted people and policies that would protect Black and Brown people, and outright attacked those people of color. And, the epidemic of police brutality continues unabated, despite the global outcry following the uniquely callous murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last May. How can book historians engage these events? How does the book historian make herself useful in the defense of black lives? Inspired by the double meaning to be found in this year’s conference theme – “moving texts” – this talk centers on how African American mediamakers – professional, amateur, and accidental – have produced and circulated texts that affected, informed, instructed, and united Blacks and non-Blacks in opposition to white supremacy, anti-black violence, and black death. From narratives written by formerly enslaved Blacks to the 8 minute and 41 second video that 17-year-old Darnella Frazier filmed of Floyd’s murder, texts with the power to move people have been historically central to Black struggles for life and liberty. As a historian of race and a Black woman in the United States, I seek understanding of what forms these mobilizing texts have taken, the work necessary to produce, circulate, and consume these texts, and how different constituencies – activists, voters, consumers, lawmakers, and scholars – have received these materials. I view these questions all to be in service of this most pressing question: what texts are most moving – and most damaging – in the 21st century battle for Black life?
Keynote speaker bio
Dr. Brenna Wynn Greer is an Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College. She is a historian of race, gender, and culture in the twentieth century United States, who explores historical connections between capitalism, social movements and visual culture. Her first book, "Represented: The Black Imagemakers Who Reimagined African American Citizenship" (University of Pennsylvania Press), examines the historical circumstances that made the media representation of black citizenship good business in the post-World War II era. A recipient of several teaching awards and major fellowships from the ACLS, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Professor Greer’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Nation, Daily Mail, Enterprise & Society, and Columbia Journalism Review.
U.S. Book Piracy in the Twenty-First Century
Rachel Noorda and Kathi Berens
Based on nationally representative survey research (with a sample size of 4314) from the Immersive Media 2020 project, this paper highlights surprising findings from one particular segment of respondents: book pirates. Contrary to current publishing industry policies toward book pirates and general narratives about book piracy in the twenty-first century, the survey data illustrates that book pirates can not be reduced to simple thieves; they are, in fact, book borrowers, subscribers, and buyers. They discover through crossmedia, finding new books via engagement with TV/movies and game, and they buy books in multiple formats. Through this illuminating survey data, this paper addresses key questions such as the following:
What cultural, social, technological, legal, and economic underpinnings frame book piracy in the US?
What are the demographics of book pirates and how do factors of age, race, and gender construct important contexts for book pirates?
What is the role of libraries in book piracy (14.4% of survey respondents said they engaged in piracy, 15.5% pirate books when they are unavailable through the library)?
Scholarly Pirate Libraries: Library Genesis
Library Genesis is one of the oldest and largest illegal scholarly book collections online. Without the authorization of copyright holders, this shadow library hosts and makes more than 2 million scholarly publications, monographs, and textbooks available. This paper analyzes a set of weblogs of one of the Library Genesis mirrors, provided to us by one of the service’s administrators. We reconstruct the social and economic factors that drive the global and European demand for illicit scholarly literature. In particular, we test if lower income regions can compensate for the shortcomings in legal access infrastructures by more intensive use of illicit open resources. We found that while richer regions are the most intensive users of shadow libraries, poorer regions face structural limitations that prevent them from fully capitalizing on freely accessible knowledge. We discuss these findings in the wider context of open access publishing, and point out that open access knowledge, if not met with proper knowledge absorption infrastructures, has limited usefulness in addressing knowledge access and production inequalities.
Format is at once a technical term, a social phenomenon, and a theoretical provocation for book historians. This panel considers the present and future potential of the concept of format as a way to frame the study of digital books, their production, and especially the diversity of their readerships.
One of the affordances of the concept of format, as distinct from medium, is that it serves as a connective thread between different periods and technologies of book production. For example, Simone Murray’s chapter on digital books in her Introduction to Contemporary Print Culture (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020) challenges book historians to look beyond the print-versus-digital debates of past decades to the ways media technologies constitute “complex ecosystems of coexistence and mutual dependence in which the new can just as readily drive the fetishisation or repurposing of older formats” (p. 201). This panel takes format as a keyword that connects traditional bibliographic and newer digital approaches to book history, and connects digital books as technical artifacts to digital books as social phenomena and market commodities. Formats make meaning in ways that are not always obvious, but always leave a trace.
The two papers in this panel consider how to read those traces in the very recent histories of digital books. Drawing on the scholarship of publishing studies and book history alike, this panel explores the theoretical and practical considerations of studying digital books not as instances of a single medium, totalized under the word digital, but as formats—often in the plural form, where a diversity of formats signals a diversity of possible readers and pathways to publication. That plurality hints not only at how to read digital book formats, but also why.
What Is a Format?: Digital Books, Digital Files, and the Bibliographic Dimensions of Format Theory
As Jonathan Sterne argues, “If there is such a thing as media theory, there should also be format theory” (p. 7). Sterne’s call for format theory—which distinguishes format from medium—appears in his 2012 book MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke UP), an important contribution to the field of sound studies and to media studies generally. It is also a call that should resonate with the increasing number of book historians who study ebooks and other born-digital forms. However, any contributions to format theory from book historians must necessarily be built atop decades—even centuries—of prior thinking about book formats and their relationship to substrates like folded sheets of parchment or paper. Like the meanings and histories of formats themselves, the concept of format is complex and multilayered. This paper will consider the bibliographic origins of format theory, as well as its value for understanding the changing nature of authoring, publishing, and reading.
Recognizing the increasing importance of format in a world of proliferating digital objects and forms, and building on recent work by Matthew Kirschenbaum, Lisa Gitelman, and Meredith McGill, this paper considers the potential for format theory drawn from book history and bibliography (descriptive and analytical) as well as the related fields of publishing studies and digital curation. The paper will draw on a set of examples from the hand-press and digital eras of book publishing to unpack the premise—familiar to book historians—that formats are not only matters of industry standardization and compliance, but also social constructs that shape the possible relationships between authors, publishers, and readers (not to mention other key agents like designers). As both technical fact and social phenomenon, any given format thus requires a certain double-vision in our methods and vocabulary, achieved via case studies through which our materials can reciprocally shape our theory.
Accessibility in Digital Book Formats: The Case of Amanda Leduc’s Disfigured
The term born-digital refers to a text that appears in a digital format in its first instance, and is reproduced in an analog version either at the same time, at a later date, or not at all. Born-accessible, then, refers to texts that are released in accessible formats (including braille, e-braille, and DAISY audiobook) on publication day. In book history studies, these two concepts are relatively new phenomena; in fact, most publishers today do not produce born-digital and born-accessible books. Texts that fall into either born-digital or born-accessible classifications provide intriguing case studies for book history, via topics like readership and consumer access to books, as well as publishing studies, via topics like production and workflow. Working within a discussion of format theory applied to book history and modern publishing, this paper will evaluate born-accessible texts within Canadian publishing in terms of workflow, production processes, and readership.
Specifically, this paper will look at the requirements for accessible formats and the production process behind them, as well as the benefits to publishing born-accessible books. To develop a bibliographical sense of born-digital and born-accessible texts, this paper will examine Disfigured by Amanda Leduc (Coach House, 2020) as a case study; Disfigured is a born-accessible book that was published in seven formats on its initial publication day due largely to authorial intent and the subject matter of the book. Discussion of this case study signifies that format and accessibility are established through complex publisher–author–reader relationships.
This panel addresses how two literary institutions – library and bookshop – condition individual relations and community formation. Far from being static locations for the transmission of texts, libraries and bookshops were and are charged political spaces, shaping gender relations, political causes, and literary networks. Within them, the meaning of the book is constituted through more than its content or form, inflected by both the possibilities inherent to library and bookshop space and those who have access to it. By looking at two historical moments, the Gilded Age in the US and Modernism in the UK, this panel explores how interpersonal dynamics were shaped through the collection and exchange of the book. Working from these two distinct periods, we hope to highlight the consistencies of the form of these book spaces, while also drawing out the particularities of their time and place.
The Body in the Library: The Gendered Book in the Gilded Age
Within nineteenth-century discourse of both literary culture and the material book, the body of the woman and the body of the book are drawn into perilous proximity: Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to his library as his “harem,” Leigh Hunt waxes poetic about marrying the volumes on his shelf, and Eugene Field boasts of the advantages the lover of books has over the lover of women – namely, that the bibliophile’s paramours are completely under his control, ever-ready for the attentions of “some good man.” During the same period, women are systematically denied agency in library spaces, often relegated, at least in the cultural narrative, to positions of service within public libraries and subject to exclusion, ridicule, or skepticism within private ones. The perfect possession enjoyed by men like Emerson, Hunt, and Field emerges from a culture of collecting which insists that a woman can only occupy library space as a body, possessed rather than possessor. This paper will explore the significance of the gendered book, positing that this phenomenon is one manifestation of what I call the book’s uncanny valley of subjectivity – that because books seem to be like people, our encounters with them reproduce negotiations of social power. Women’s changing status in the nineteenth century disrupts what was once an easy association for men between the books they owned and the women they married or lusted after, a development which served to intensify, rather than lessen, the impulse to conflate the two. This provocative entanglement, in turn, has significant effects on how people viewed book buying, book ownership, and the possibilities of both.
The Bookshop in Networks of Literary Modernism
Dr. Matthew Chambers
Bookshop space can conjure images of cramped rooms with overstuffed shelves and little circulating in or out. Indeed, thinking of a bookshop as an establishment fixes the space into a static form, a neutral or unobserved site where texts move through from publisher to reader. Bookshops, even if not mainly considered as such, have long been active in the literary world and published coteries of writers or artists, or hosted events, clubs, and informal gatherings. The number of politically and literary-engaged bookshops grew substantially at the turn of the twentieth century in the United Kingdom as the formal organization of the trade through the Booksellers Association made it easier to open a shop and the market expanded both domestically and transnationally. These shops served community building functions which persist to the present day. To get at the unique form of a bookshop within modernist print cultures, I look at two instances of bookshops – Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop and David Archer’s Parton Bookshop – whose spaces were active in the shaping of literary modernism and (for Archer’s) political radicalism as well. These modernist bookshops were intentional spaces, opened to serve not just a niche market of literary enthusiasts, but enable the coming together of likeminded individuals and the circulation of their texts. In this way, these bookshops also served as imagined spaces for collective organizing, representative addresses for an otherwise dispersed clientele with common interests. In discussing these examples, this paper lays out how bookshops – like other social spaces such as cafes and pubs – served as dynamic organizational spaces where the circulation of texts reinforced messaging and identity formation.
Historians of reading have paid scant attention to uninformed or mistaken reading. Focusing in most cases on educated, exceptional readers such as John Dee and Gabriel Harvey, early modern studies have tended to privilege knowledgeable over ignorant reading, whilst Heather Jackson’s later work on Romantic-era readers has focused on erudite, witty or insightful marginalia. More broadly, literary critics and editors today continue in unacknowledged ways to dismiss some readings as factually or aesthetically ignorant or “wrong” even as they show an increased openness to sophisticated or intelligent interpretations unintended by a work’s author. Previous accounts have treated unsophisticated readers such as Thomas Turner and John Dawson, but these studies do not consider the many confusions and misunderstandings these ordinary readers surely experienced when reading. Cloaked and allusive satirical writings, the roman a clef, the dense intertextuality of political pamphlet debate. Were all these texts really read well, read with comprehension in their own time by readers who were themselves often new to literary debate? This roundtable explores how the study of reception and reading history might change if confusion and difficulty were more widely acknowledged and analyzed. What would criticism and editing look like if the experiences of the many more ignorant or imperfect readers in the past received the same attention as those of the exceptional, knowing few? Further, how might paying more attention to problems of readerly access and understanding change how we teach works?
What is the relationship between print and digital media in the twenty-first century? Earlier 1990s-era framings of the relationship as a zero-sum game have been generally debunked but what paradigm should we put in their place? Will the book industry continue to view the online world as a low-risk research-and-development arm, creaming off successes and consecrating them with print publication? Or will publishers and authors scrounge for crumbs of digital attention, desperately hoping to ‘go viral’? Perhaps there is no overarching pattern but only a series of ad hoc and often contradictory relationships brokered between the two media.
This panel ‘Print/Digital Thresholds’ aims to throw light on the contemporary moment of transition by examining two case-studies sited at the boundary of traditional print and digital domains. The first paper examines the thriving online community of BookTube, where passionate reader-reviewers brandish the codex as a talisman of their readerly affect while making full use of the site’s interactive affordances. The second paper, on Melcher Media, examines the formulation of ‘bookishness’ (as developed by Jessica Pressman and others) in the context of a specific design firm that has made the remediation of the codex its brand by using software technology and the global supply chain to produce a series of high-profile and very ‘bookish’ books.
Taken together, the papers aim to ground speculation about shifting media epochs in the details of specific online book-culture practices. From these fine-grained analyses it may be possible to sketch broader patterns of inter-medial relationships without doing away with the messy reality of multiple media’s coexistence, competition and complementarity. Both papers contribute to discussions of what one paper author has termed the digital literary sphere, as well as methodologies for contemporary book studies.
Literary Studies, BookTube and Recuperation of Readerly Affect
This paper understands ‘moving’ in the conference title not as a verb but an adjective: texts that trigger passionate reactions among readers. This is ironic, as the expunging of readerly affect was the price the emergent discipline of English paid for entry into the academy, developing a cult of ‘disinterestedness’ and ‘depersonalisation’. But a century on, this hyper-rational approach is challenged by a wave of digital bookish phenomena that thrive on readerly passion. Chief among these is bookTube: homemade videos about books uploaded to YouTube.
BookTubers are in the main young, female, US-based, and posting from their domestic environment about YA and fantasy titles. Both this demographic and these genres have long been subject to critical disparagement that an unseemly degree of emotion is being expended upon inappropriate objects. BookTubers are refreshingly indifferent to such strictures. Their regularly-posted videos are replete with verbal and corporeal markers of affect: avowals of love for a particular series, or holding up the codex to the camera to aid bookshop recognition. BookTube culture is also innately dialogic: an ascending hierarchy of views, likes, comments and subscriptions stokes further readerly sociability. BookTubers are well aware of the need to ‘show the love’, engaging in elaborate demonstrations of receptivity to their subscriber communities.
But affect cuts both ways: how to manage reader trolling when a beloved author is criticised, or when the domestically-exposed bookTuber is subjected to online hate? Further, affect is simultaneously commercial currency, as evident in contested protocols around ‘influencer’ sponsorship deals, affiliate links with Amazon, YouTube advertiser revenue and publisher-supplied books.
BookTube is fascinating in itself as a digital-era bookish phenomenon, showing how interdependent the two media have grown. It also holds broader significance for Literary Studies as it tries to rethink its foundational banishment of affect and build bridges with long-ostracised popular reader communities.
Making Bookishness: A Case Study of Melcher Media
This paper builds on and extends the concept of ‘bookishness’ (Pressman, 2009, 2020) through consideration not of a book but rather a specific workplace involved in the design and production of a number of high-profile titles that serve as exemplary instances of the phenomenon. The workplace in question is Melcher Media, founded in 1994 by Charles Melcher and based in a brownstone in lower Manhattan.
Melcher Media is contracted by publishers who need a small, elite team to develop story concepts into fully realized products. (In the business, this is known as ‘book packaging’.) Clients have ranged from Al Gore and his bestseller An Inconvenient Truth to the companion volume for the musical Hamilton. Melcher also did the concept and design work for J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S., or Ship of Theseus, a popular piece of transmedia fiction with some 200,000 copies in print.
The presenter has conducted site visits to the Melcher offices and interviewed key personnel. In this paper, he draws upon his research notes to develop the thesis that bookishness depends both on the use of sophisticated digital design technology to produce (ironically) overtly bookish effects, such as foxing or stains on the pages (Photoshop layers) or ‘rips’ and tears (in fact, die-cut using CNC-controllers). However, the application of this technology is complemented by access to a global supply chain where paper stocks, inks, foils, and other materials can be sourced, all ultimately routed through production facilities in Asia—which frequently culminates in manual placement of inserts of other special materials, ‘digital’ technology of still another sort. The print/digital threshold consists in all these aspects. This paper thus serves as a case study, but also an inquiry into methodology wherein an entity normally invisible in the production cycle is brought to light.
The secondhand trade is rich with stories of lost treasures, silent witnesses, and perambulating books. But, as Walter Benjamin provocatively asked in 1916, “What if things could speak? What would they tell us? Or are they speaking already and we just don’t hear them?” In How to Do things with Books in Victorian Britain, Leah Price elaborates on Roger Chartier’s call for an ‘internalist’ account of reading audiences. Chartier urges book historians to look, not at the reading habits of a group defined by “a priori social oppositions,” but rather at “the social areas in which each corpus of texts and each genre of printed matter circulates.” To fulfil this brief, Price suggests we turn to the genre of the ‘it narrative’: “instead of starting from a person and asking what books he owned,” she proposes a method that “starts from a book and asks into whose possession it came. In this model, the book would exemplify Arjun Appadurai’s argument that while ‘from a theoretical point of view human actors encode things with significance, from a methodological point of view it is the things-in-motion that illuminate their human and social context.’” This panel examines two semi-public libraries from provincial Devon in the early modern period and the port town archives from nineteenth-century Southampton that exemplify the mobility of books and their various agents, invisible or otherwise. Identifying material traces of book production, transmission, and use coupled with object-oriented biblio-narratives provide a novel viewshaft into the practice of book history.
Walter Benjamin, On language as such and on the language of man, in One-way street, and other writings, trans. Edmund Jephcott, Kingsley Shorter, London, NLB, 1979, pp. 107-123.
Roger Chartier, The Order of Books, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1994, p. 7.
Leah Price, How to Do things with Books in Victorian Britain, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 131.
Second-hand Books and the Circulation of Knowledge: Reading provenance in the semi-public library books of early modern Devon
In early modern England, where new books were expensive and long-established scholarship was prized, old books were a staple of libraries. These were not, necessarily, books which had been sat quietly in institutional collections since being acquired new, but rather books which had passed through the hands of different collectors and booksellers since first being printed — sometimes gifted or borrowed, sometimes sold. The trajectories of these second-hand books are fertile ground for investigating what D. F. McKenzie described as “the human motives and interactions which texts involve at every stage of their production, transmission, and consumption”, and the structures and networks which arrange them. The evidence for books’ movements is, however, usually sparse and only identified through close examination of individual volumes. As a result, we know much more about the human interactions which were involved in early modern book production and initial distribution, or at specific occasions such as auctions, than we do about multiple interactions with particular volumes over time. This paper will examine traces of provenance from books that were in Devon’s seventeenth and eighteenth century semi-public libraries to reconstruct the outlines of their object biographies. These were libraries with high proportions of second-hand books which were designed to enact an intervention on the dissemination of knowledge locally, and the way in which this happened was contingent on what books were available and how they had circulated previously. I will use the books’ biographies to reflect on how the long lives of second-hand books in early modern England conditioned the dissemination and circulation of knowledge, and the relationship of book distribution in this provincial area with intellectual and book-circulation centres located elsewhere.
Ghosts in the Archive: Digital storytelling and Victorian Southampton’s book trade history
On the evenings of 30 November and 1 December 1940, Southampton, UK sustained 712 aerial bombardments by German forces that destroyed much of the city’s commercial heartland and industrial infrastructure. A once vibrant Victorian town was reduced overnight to craters, twisted metal, and rubble. The book trades likewise suffered along with their buildings, material goods, and business records. In this landscape of archival loss, how do we stitch together a narrative of a world now physically absent, if not virtually forgotten? This paper explores how a British Academy-funded digital humanities project on recovering Southampton’s translocal book trades encountered archival absence and developed innovative digital storytelling approaches to create new historical presences. From mapping the fluid geographies and global mobilities of local bookworkers to understanding the port city’s dynamic transmigrant networks to revivifying the peregrinations of material objects through it-narratives, this project demonstrates what Arlette Farge terms ‘the allure of the archive’ and follows Walter Benjamin’s suggestion that the word ‘history’ must be ‘written in the characters of transience.’
The novel became established as the dominant form of Western literature in the nineteenth century. Around the same time, the first book was published in Australia—a compilation of Government orders published in 1802, just fourteen years after the convict colony was established—but this event was accompanied by little celebration or even notice. In 1831, however, the publication of the first novel in Australia was greeted much more enthusiastically, both in Australia and abroad. Thereafter, Australia’s literary history has been inextricably bound up with the history of the novel. This development has arguably been to the detriment of Australia’s Indigenous wordsmiths, who were telling oral stories for thousands of years prior to colonisation, but whose written output has tended to cluster in the literary forms of life writing and poetry. Especially when Australians share their books with the rest of the world—whether that is Australian authors publishing overseas, or Australian scholars writing for an international audience about Australian literature—there is a strong propensity to focus on the novel. For example, all of the writers who receive significant attention in David Carter and Roger Osborne’s authoritative work of book history, Australian Books and Authors in the American Marketplace 1840s–1940s, are novelists.
This panel will share with an audience of scholars from Australia and abroad the contemporary publishing history of two of Australia’s marginalised literary forms: comic books and graphic novels, and short story collections. Both papers consider the range of intermediary agents who shape the life cycles of these textual objects from discovery to delivery, as well as these agents’ business practices. For comic books and graphic novels, these business practices include the informal networking associated with comics conventions, while for short story collections they include fluctuations in the prioritisation of non-economic values by publishing houses.
Comics Studies and Book History/Publishing Studies: An Australian Case Study
In this presentation, we will answer the question, ‘What are the pathways that Australian creators of comic books and graphic novels commonly follow in order to be published by international publishing houses?’ This research question is significant for two reasons.
The first of these reasons is that it combines two historically distinct fields of research. In 2020, Dale Jacobs called for ‘comics studies to become a fully interdisciplinary endeavor … by incorporating methodologies and ways of thinking from the field of book history’. Therefore, in the first part of this presentation, we will provide an overview of the relationship of comics studies with book history—as well as with many of book history’s related fields or subdisciplines (e.g., publishing studies, periodical studies). We will also discuss the role of intermediaries in the life cycle of comic books and graphic novels—including both quite common intermediaries (e.g., editors, booksellers) and intermediaries unique to these particular forms of the book (e.g., inkers, colourists, letterers).
The second reason why this question is significant is because, due to limited local publishing opportunities, Australian comics creators often look to international publishing houses that specialise in comic books and graphic novels. Even mid-sized international publishing houses produce more new titles annually than the entire Australian publishing industry. Therefore, the research question helps us identify the business practices that determine the comic books and graphic novels by Australian creators that are actually published for consumption by both Australian and international audiences. We will conclude the second part of this presentation by discussing the primary role of personal relationships—more so than, for example, economic or institutional relationships—in the global flow of cultural production and reception, and what both book history scholars and individuals working in the book industry might do to more effectively capture this dynamic.
Short Story Collections, Cultural Value, and the Australian Market for Books
This paper analyzes forty years of bibliometric data on Australian sole-authored short story collections. The short story has been seen as a historically important cultural form for Australia, but short story collections have been a more variable commodity: after a boom of culturally significant collections by such writers as Helen Garner, Frank Moorhouse, and Peter Carey in the 1970s and 1980s, short story collections have been irregularly published by multinational conglomerates. This data, however, locates a new renaissance of the short story collection over last decade, driven by small and independent publishers whose focus is cultural rather than economic. It also re-examines highpoint of multinational short-story publishing, which extended into the early 1990s.
I argue that the prevalence or absence of short story collections in Australian publishing indirectly indexes the degree to which non-economic values, such as cultural value and symbolic value, regulate book production. While short story collections may be an unexpected and oblique measure, the variable status of the sole-authored short story collection makes it a useful barometer for examining publishers’ investments in cultural forms of value, as opposed to commercial ones. The renaissance of short story collections also problematises Mark Davis’s claim that the “literary paradigm” has declined in Australian publishing. Instead, the renaissance of short stories among small publishers potentially suggests a repolarisation of the field in line with traditional Bourdieusian accounts.
Rather than reinscribing hierarchies of literary value, however, this repolarisation may simply reflect trends within readerly demographics that consume different kinds of texts. In this sense, short story collections are useful both for understanding the cultural and economic logics that underpin contemporary publishing, as well as the material networks through which they circulate.
Diverse intermediary agents facilitated the movement of books within the fluid literary networks of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This panel zooms in on informal intermediaries who moved books in complex and multifarious ways, between author, lay reader, and professional critic, within and across national markets. They read, reviewed, and recommended books, collected them in their domestic homes and mailed them through the postal service, in the process garnering attention and building a reputation of their work. Drawing on selected source materials from archival collections in the United States, this panel interrogates the intricate ways in which Francis Lieber (Paper I) and Helen Wright (Paper II) moved texts for the motivating forces, processual repercussions, and wider implications of their activities.
Nineteenth-Century Book and Knowledge Exchanges: Francis Lieber and his Literary Network
Francis Lieber (1798-1872) migrated from Prussia to the United States in 1827, where he taught history, political economics, and philosophy at the South Carolina College and the Columbia College (NYC). He created an extensive network of personal contacts which spanned from the East Coast to South Carolina and across the Atlantic to the German States. He utilized this network to move texts across the country and the Atlantic, exchanging personal letters, book orders, scientific topics of interest, opinions on current political affairs, noteworthy articles, newspaper clippings, and translations. Domestically, Lieber exchanged letters with Joseph Story, Edward Livingston, Charles Sumner, and others. His transatlantic contacts included C. J. A. Mittermaier, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Gustave de Beaumont.
Through his domestic and transatlantic literary network Lieber functioned as a conveyor and synthesizer of knowledge (Freidel 359). He engaged in lively discussions surrounding prison reform, matters of copyright, and current political events. As a book broker and knowledge worker he engaged in domestic and transatlantic knowledge transfer throughout the nineteenth century (Schnurmann 412, 433, 467).
By analyzing archival materials from the Francis Lieber collections at the Sheridan Libraries, the South Caroliniana Library, and the Huntington Library, this paper aims to illustrate the different ways in which texts were requested, distributed, reviewed, and recommended through Francis Lieber’s literary network. I will analyze selected correspondence between Lieber and his various personal contacts to carve out Lieber’s functions as an informal intermediary and to flesh out the movement of books and knowledge within his literary network.
Helen Wright’s Collection of Autographed Books: Authorial Imprimatur and Informal Work in the Turn-of-the-Century Literary Market
A. Elisabeth Reichel
The Helen Wright Collection of Autographed Books at Vassar College, the subject of this case study, consists of 412 books inscribed by their authors to Helen Wright, an avid bibliophile who, ostensibly writing from her position at the Library of Congress, sent out autograph requests to such notable literary figures as Sinclair Lewis and Langston Hughes in her spare time. As her collection grew, lesser-known authors approached her to volunteer as well.
It is this largely unexamined body of materials, together with the correspondence resulting from Wright’s activities, that this paper sets out to chart. Wright’s collection is unique in the way that it documents valences and meanings of the autographic gesture at the turn to the twentieth century and fleshes out the position of a female turn-of-the-century autograph and book collector among (mostly male) authors and the moving texts that connect them.
More specifically, I submit, this body of archival materials testifies to the emergence of the authorial imprimatur that Aaron Jaffe has identified as a hallmark of modernist print culture. During the interwar period, the symbolic currency of the autographic mark would allow modernist authors to impose impersonality as an aesthetic doctrine while relying on a network of critics, editors, and publishers to increase the value attached to their personal signature. What Wright’s collection gives vivid expression to is the informal, uncompensated processes of communication, circulation, and curation that sustain such an economy. Wright, I venture, played a critical role in setting such processes in motion.
Freidel, F. “Francis Lieber: Transmitter of European Ideas to America.” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 38, no. 2, 1956, pp. 342–59.
Jaffe, Aaron. Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity. Cambridge UP, 2005.
Schnurmann, Claudia. Brücken aus Papier. LIT, 2014.
Research Lab Abstract
Literary prizes are a highly visible and deeply contested space in contemporary publishing. Literary prizes are institutions that work to promote and commodify the celebration of the written word. Prizes have been the subject of significant scholarly attention (English, 2008; Squires, 2004, 2013) with one key focus of existing literature being the ways in which literary prizes contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a white male literary canon (Griffith, 2015; Marsden, 2019). The establishment of prizes for women writers, and other marginalised identities, has become a common response to this homogeneity; the rationale being that concentrated promotion of the work of marginalised writers will go some way to changing and transforming the dominance of particular authors who represent a narrow profile of the broader literary field.
However, despite publicly stated ideals that hint at the emancipatory power of prizes, particularly those for women writers, in reality they tend to reinforce existing structural inequities within contemporary publishing. This lab examines the methodological approaches that characterises research into the contemporary prize gender gap, and explores the ways in which literary prizes such as the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Stella Prize in Australia, which were founded in direct response to quantifiable gender inequities in literary prizes, may not be as emancipatory as they claim but nonetheless continue to wield transnational power and influence.
This paper draws on ongoing research embedded in the Scottish literary industry, which has the aim of advising on the creation of a new literary prize to tackle gender inequality in contemporary Scottish writing and publishing. The rationale for creating a new literary award is based on evidencing gender inequality mainly through quantitative research, counting the gender of authors in Scottish publishing, literary reviewing, literary festivals, and literary prizes. However, this methodology is flawed; it relies on essentialising notions of gender in categories - yet it feels like this is the best we can do. This paper reflects on ontological and epistemological contradictions arising from blending research modes that are grounded in empiricism and postpositivism, and modes built on postmodern feminist theory and change: if we understand knowledge, specifically knowledge about gender inequality, as situated rather than objectively measurable, what other tools can we imagine beyond counting the instances/occurrences (?) of each gender in the field of publishing? How do we do this work so it adequately highlights how women and minority gender authors are discriminated against in the literary sector?
This paper reflects on my experience as an embedded researcher working within an advocacy group for gender equality in the Scottish literary sector, beginning from a drive for change. It is a work-in-progress charting the development of my methodology over the course of my PhD. It presents the conceptual framework of the transformative paradigm and Community-Based Participatory Research Methodology, and the mixed quantitative and qualitative methods used for this research project and how they are used together to create an argument while defying the expectation of a single objective narrative.
The Whiteness of Women’s Literary Awards
Dr Alex Dane
Discussion around the relationship between literary power, literary prizes and cis women writers has been a constant presence since the mid-twentieth century. Authors, scholars, critics and arts administrators have explored the persistent literary prize gender gap within the contemporary Anglophone publishing industry, offering a range of different criticisms, quantitative analyses and industry-based solutions. The introduction of women’s literary prizes—such as the Women’s Prize in the UK and the Stella Prize in Australia—have led the public conversation about the literary prestige gender gap, celebrating and publicising the writing of women authors. And while the result of this sustained activism has not brought about broad-based equality between men and women in the literary field, the fruits of this work has primarily benefited white women authors: white women constitute 79% of the winners of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and 89% of the winners of the Stella Prize.
This paper interrogates the ways in which white women have benefited from the introduction of women’s literary prizes, and how these prizes often reinforce the dominance and privileges of white writers within the contemporary publishing industry. By examining the marketing collateral and media coverage of both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Stella Prize through the lens of critical discourse analysis, this research explores the use of activist and collectivist language on the part of institutions, critics and commentators that lacks an intersectional approach, and asks whether this lack of intersectionality on the part of women’s literary prizes perpetuates field-wide racial inequalities.
Challenging the "Power" of Prestige
Dr Stevie Marsden
There are certain prizes that are world-renowned and wield significant cultural and economic power within literary culture. In 2008, James F. English argued that the ‘modern ascendency of the cultural prize may conveniently be said to have started in 1901 with the Nobel Prize for Literature’ (28) and awards like the Nobel Prize for Literature (and, also, the Booker Prize for Fiction) have become exemplars in the field, seemingly ensuring prestige and recognition for winners. The cultural domination of such awards is reflected in academic and journalistic discourse alike, with most existing studies using prizes like the Nobel Prize for Literature and Booker Prize for Fiction as archetypes as opposed to anomalies in prizes culture, and this has both impeded broader understandings of how awards work and their influence within the cultural economy, and facilitated the hegemonic cultural domination of such prizes.
This paper will propose how, as cultural prize scholars, we can challenge and complicate our current understandings of literary prizes. Expanding upon existing conceptual and theoretical understandings of prize culture (which rely heavily on the work of Pierre Bourdieu), this paper will argue that a logical fallacy of false equivalence persists in literary prize culture and has led to the false presumption that balances of power are consistent across literary prizes. Such presumptions affect how the industry reacts and engages with such awards, impacting understandings of prize prestige and readers’ recognition of, and access to, prize winners.
Please note, there are three shorter papers for this research lab. Dr Melinda Harvey will be the moderator of the session. Dr Stevie Marsden is the lab leader.
Over the course of the twentieth century, queer books were subject to a web of regulatory mechanisms and sanctions: legal, economic and social. Despite the reforms of the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, which allowed for the first time a defence on grounds of literary merit, queer books continued to cause anxiety and faced both subtle and overt regulation. As John Sutherland reminds us: ‘Optimists may have thought the victory for “literature” decisively won in November 1960 with the liberation of Lady Chatterley. The forces of reaction were, however, tenacious and ingenious’. This panel explores the ‘tenacious and ingenious’ ways in which literary censorship persisted in Britain in the post-Chatterley era and the various mechanisms of state and economic control that governed the lifecycle of the queer book. From booksellers WH Smith’s attempts to negotiate libel and obscenity laws amid rapidly changing attitudes towards homosexuality, to the blasphemy case Mary Whitehouse v. Gay News in 1977, to the Operation Tiger raids by HM Customs and Excise on Gay’s the Word bookshop in the mid-1980s, to the moral panic over Danish children’s book Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin which led to the discriminatory legislation Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, queer literature and books continued to be peculiarly charged throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. In exploring this topic, we draw attention to these books’ status as both material and textual objects and to the various reading strategies deployed in their defence. We consider the ways in which the study of the queer book disrupts our understanding of standard book history models. For the queer book, the journey around the communication circuit is never straightforward.
‘Upholders of Middle-Class Morality’ and ‘Purveyors of Greeting Cards’: W.H. Smith and the Distribution of Queer Literature in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain
In March 1970, open war broke out between Gore Vidal and Britain’s largest bookseller, W.H. Smith. Smiths refused to stock Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge for fear of being prosecuted for obscenity, despite the 180 changes Vidal had made for the British edition. Vidal caused a media storm, accusing the firm of being ‘upholders of middle-class morality’ and mere ‘purveyors of greeting cards’ who, nevertheless, used their ‘monopoly’ position within the British book trade to censor important – if controversial – works of literature. W.H. Smith was no stranger to these dust-ups. From early in its history it had to negotiate the treacherous waters between ‘the Scylla of the law and the Charybdis of “censorship” accusations’. Unlike British libel law, obscenity law offered no ‘innocent dissemination’ protection for booksellers or distributors, and Smiths was wary of damaging its high-street reputation (and its bottom line) by being drawn into expensive legal battles.
The rise of queer literature in mid-20th century Britain (some 900 titles featuring queer characters were published 1935-1970) along with rapidly changing social and legal attitudes toward both homosexuality and obscenity created unique tensions for book distributors such as Smiths. Tracing the history of Smith’s book stocking policy, I consider how legal changes brought about by the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 created paralysing ambiguity for British booksellers. I situate W.H. Smith’s struggles within a broader framework of the ‘publishing closet’, in which the threat of prosecution was often more effective against the distribution of queer texts than actual prosecutions.
“Gay Books Will Burn”: Operation Tiger, Gay’s the Word bookshop, and Literary Censorship in 1980s Britain
“Gay Books Will Burn” proclaimed a headline in London freesheet Capital Gay in June 1984, following the second of several raids by HM Customs and Excise on Gay’s the Word bookshop, Bloomsbury. These raids, known as “Operation Tiger”, saw thousands of pounds’ worth of stock seized, staff homes searched, and eight of the shop’s directors and its manager charged with importing indecent or obscene titles. They faced an Old Bailey trial, and possible imprisonment: the most high-profile obscenity case since that of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960. Yet Operation Tiger – and the sustained, and ultimately successful, campaign mounted to “Defend Gay’s the Word” in the face of this heavy-handed state intervention – remains a largely underexamined episode in queer history. In this talk, I place Operation Tiger in a longer history of literary censorship and queer book use, examining the relationship between the state, the (queer) consumer, and the British bookselling and publishing industries. Drawing on contemporary newspaper coverage of the case, alongside Isabel Hofmeyr’s recent work on the “obscure and little-studied institution” of Customs and Excise, I examine the material and textual reading strategies employed both in censorship of and in defence of the books seized in the raids. As mistrust of and hostility towards LGBTQ+ people continues to manifest in anxieties about books and reading, I suggest that attention to Operation Tiger and its repercussions is overdue – and may usefully inform our current moment.
The roundtable presents a multidisciplinary conversation on the mediating function that transnational and translational communities had in fostering the circulation of texts between Italy, Britain and the United States at the turn of the Twentieth century. Coming from diverse backgrounds, the panellists and the moderator will reflect on how the specific materiality of printed items and the particular nature of publishing interactions shaped the movements and reception of texts across national and language borders.
Through selected case studies, the participants will articulate the discourse around two main areas of investigation. First, they will chart the formation of networks among self-fashioned mediators (Coluzzi), translators and literary agents (Lanfranchi) and publishing professionals (Abbatelli) and unpack the way these social actors variously bridged the gap between producers and distributors of cultural materials. Secondly, they will highlight how the material appearance of the object book constitutes the physical manifestation of these networks' transformative action and of the tensions within their individual national contexts.
After having pondered on the implications of this approach for book-historical and sociological research, the conversation will ultimately consider how these issues can be brought into the undergraduate and postgraduate classroom to raise greater critical awareness about the complexities of the material and intellectual circulation of texts across time and space.
These two linked panels focus on contemporary online reading practices in order to explore the various roles that readers play in “moving texts” in the twenty-first century. What are the relationships among platforms, publishers, readers and authors? How does power circulate among these agents and how might we conceptualise it? How do different examples of social reading online help us to understand recommendation culture? Taken together, the two panels trace the new ruling relations of power that structure the digital environment, while also mapping the informal and formal ways that readers exercise their agency as influencers, evaluators and content creators. The presenters’ case studies illustrate different examples of networks among readers and other agents. Using a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, they examine how algorithms, social and economic capital, and platform affordances - from Instagram to LovelyBooks - variously inform contemporary reading and book cultures. The panels are designed to showcase the research of early career scholars from Europe, North America and Australia working in and across languages, namely English, German, French, Dutch and Italian. In doing so, the presenters attend to both national and transnational formations of reading habits and communities, the multi-territorial reach of major technology companies, and the resulting complexities of promotion, discovery, delivery and reception of texts in an age of social media.
The proposed format is for 2 panels, each of which consists of 3 or 4 pre-recorded presentations of 15-20 mins each with 2 “live” 1-hour discussion sessions. For “live” sessions, the panel’s presenters will participate in responding briefly to some pre-prepared questions before the moderator invites comments and queries from the audience. In this way we hope to encourage attendees to join in the conversations even if they have not been able to listen to all of the pre-recorded material.
The battle between Amazon and authors in the digital sphere: Who has the ultimate power over the written word?
The contemporary publishing industry is a “landscape dominated by large conglomerate publishers and, increasingly, by even larger technology companies” (Ray Murray & Squires, 2013: 19). Amazon in particular plays a powerful role in mediating ecommerce and epublishing for traditional publishers, self-published authors and readers. Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon’s self-publishing platform, offers unprecedented opportunities for independent producers, often unaffiliated with traditional publishers, to participate in the production and circulation of books. And while from one perspective these lowered barriers to entry arguably strengthen publishing opportunities for marginalised groups who have historically been underserved by gatekeepers of the written word, Amazon exerts a significant degree of power over authors and publishers who use their platform. As a powerful intermediary, Amazon is able to impose its own guidelines, standards and hierarchies through its governance and technological structures such as its terms of service, review systems and algorithms. How is power negotiated between audiences and platforms in the ‘digital literary sphere’ (Murray, 2018)? Do technology platforms like Amazon enhance the power of the written word by offering new avenues for its existence or do they threaten it? Are all words treated equally in a technological landscape or, if not, what inequalities are perpetuated by platform’s ‘coded architectures’ (van Dijck, 2013)? And how do authors navigate and take advantage of this space?
This paper presents a new theoretical model that draws together publishing and media studies to conceptualise the socioeconomic and technocultural components of Amazon. Specifically, it examines how Amazon users and the platform itself both exercise different forms of power to shape praxes of creation, production and reception. It draws primarily on interviews with authors of colour in order to delineate the ways in which Amazon dis/advantages traditionally marginalised authors and how these authors work independently and collectively to negate Amazon’s concentrated power. Finally, it highlights the current opportunities and limitations of technology platforms in contemporary book culture and the power of platforms as structural mediators of the written word. This research has significant heuristic value for more fully understanding the role of technology in twenty-first century book studies (Marsden & Noorda, 2019).
Readers’ Participation, Hierarchy and Authority: Creation Value on Social Reading Platforms
Since a book’s quality can only be evaluated after its consumption [Mœglin, 2012; Vogel, 2012: 44], the book industry relies heavily on intermediation, through traditional institutions such as media as well as through word-of-mouth. This activity of consumption is nothing new and has always been part of the industry’s business logics, but the emergence of electronic word-of-mouth led to its structuration and formalization, especially with the creation of Social Reading platforms where readers can share their opinion, receive recommendations, and build a sociability based on their interest in reading.
These platforms are not only spaces of expression for the readers, but also marketing tools for publishers and booksellers, which are the platforms’ clients and main sources of revenues. Social Reading platforms are thereby intermediaries in multi-sided markets that extract their value from the readers’ participation. This participation is evolving within frames set up by the platforms and their owners, which act as “curators of public discourse” [Gillespie, 2010] and coordinators of their users’ participation. They thus control it and establish hierarchies through rewards, statuses and rules the users must follow, contradicting the horizontal cooperation the term “platform” suggests.
In this paper, I will discuss the notions of participation, hierarchy, and authority on online cultural platforms through a semiotic and textual analysis of three Social Reading platforms: The American Goodreads, the French Babelio, and the German LovelyBooks. These platforms are not only influenced by their belonging to different book markets and cultures, but also by their owners and their strategies since one of them belongs to Amazon, one is an independent pure play company, and one is part of the international publishing group Holtzbrinck. Studying how these platforms’ infrastructure and discourse encourage and manage their users’ participation through the theoretical frame of the Cultural Industries will provide an analysis of online public discourse and the power relations put in place in the globalized book industry.
Gillespie Tarleton, “The politics of platforms”, New Media & Society, vol. 12, nᵒ 3, May 2010.
Mœglin Pierre, “Une théorie pour penser les industries culturelles et informationnelles ?”, Revue française des sciences de l’information et de la communication, nᵒ 1, July 2012.
Vogel Anke, Der Buchmarkt als Kommunikationsraum: Eine kritische Analyse aus medienwissenschaftlicher Perspektive, Wiesbaden, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften / Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, Wiesbaden, 2012.
Literary Prizes in times of #Twitterature and #Bookstagram: A Digital and Literary Sociological Analysis of the Layperson Evaluative “Talk of Literature” Regarding Literary Prizes on Social Media
Lore De Greve
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1993) argued that a text’s literary status as symbolic capital depends on the recognition by authorised institutions or individuals. Research on the field of literary criticism has often focused on this institutionalised consecration of literary texts, concerning traditional gatekeepers, such as prizes (English 2009, Sapiro 2016), or on professional critics’ threatened position of authority (Löffler 2017, Schneider 2018; Kempke/Vöcklinghaus/Zeh 2019, Chong 2020). Nevertheless, comparatively little research (Kellermann/Mehling/Rehfeldt 2016; Kellermann/Mehling 2017; Bogaert 2017) has actually attempted to directly ingest and mine the content of user-generated literary criticism shared on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. Consequently, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of Twitterers and Instagrammers as new literary gatekeepers and cultural transmitters.
In this presentation, I aim to analyse lay critics’ evaluative “talk of literature” on Twitter and Instagram, two social media platforms with a distinct focus and “book communities”. For this, I will examine the tweets and Instagram-posts surrounding three prominent literary prizes from different language communities, namely the Dutch-language Fintro Literatuurprijs, the German-language Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis and the English-language Booker Prize, each supporting a different level of transparency and audience participation. I intend to map the various evaluative criteria used by lay critics and to provide an answer to the question on which aspects of the prize itself and/or of the nominated and/or awarded titles – e.g. the jury discussion, a book’s plot or language use… – the lay “audience” concentrates and how these aspects are subsequently evaluated by them. By examining the online discussions and performing an aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) this data will enable me to trace shifts in the prizes’ coverage on these social media platforms. I posit that the layperson critic’s criteria and evaluation of the prizes and nominated or awarded titles is influenced by each prize’s level of audience participation and transparency and the social medium itself.
Bogaert, Xiana. ‘ICH WÜRDE AM LIEBSTEN MIT DER JURY DISKUTIEREN! #TDDL‘. Der Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis: ein Vergleich zwischen der Jury- und Laienkritik auf Twitter. University of Ghent, unpublished thesis, 2017.
Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Polity Press/Blackwell Publishers, 1993.
Chong, Phillipa K. Inside the Critics’ Circle. Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times. Princeton University Press, 2020.
English, James F. The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Kellermann, Holger, and Gabriele Mehling. „Laienrezensionen auf amazon.de im Spannungsfeld zwischen Alltagskommunikation und professioneller Literaturkritik”. Die Rezension. Aktuelle Tendenzen der Literaturkritik, edited by Andrea Bartl and Markus Behmer, Königshausen & Neumann, 2017, pp. 173–202.
Kellermann, Holger, Gabriele Mehling and Martin Rehfeldt. „Wie bewerten Laienrezensenten? Ausgewählte Ergebnisse einer inhaltsanalytischen Studie”. Was wir lesen sollen: Kanon und literarische Wertung am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts, edited by Stefan Neuhaus and Uta Schaffers, Königshausen & Neumann, 2016, pp. 229–238.
Kempke, Kevin, Lena Vöcklinghaus and Miriam Zeh. Institutsprosa: Literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf akademischen Schreibschulen. Spector Books, 2019.
Sapiro, Gisèle. “The Metamorphosis of Modes of Consecration in the Literary Field: Academies, Literary Prizes, Festivals.” Poetics, vol. 59, Dec. 2016, pp. 5–19.
Schneider, Ute. „Bücher zeigen und Leseatmosphären inszenieren – vom Habitus enthusiastischer Leserinnen und Leser.” Gelesene Literatur: Populäre Lektüre im Zeichen des Medienwandels, edited by Steffen Martus and Carlos Spoerhase, edition text + kritik 2018, pp. 113-123.
Löffler, Sigrid. „Danke, kein Bedarf? Wie die totgesagte Literaturkritik ihr Ableben überleben kann.“ Stimmen der Zeit. - Freiburg, Br. : Herder, vol. 235, no. 12, 2017, pp. 805–814.
Bookselling knows many forms. These are determined by the prints on offer, the interests and power acquisition from the clientele, regulatory aspects such as copyright, as well as the trade networks available. Itinerant merchants have trailed through regions from time immemorial, some specializing in books while others carried them as part of a bigger inventory. Specialized markets, both fixed and itinerant, have offered books where established bookshops are lacking.
The regulation of commerce following a formalized tax collecting system and the organization of work, have pushed itinerant merchants to oblivion in many places. This could suggest that booktrade and readers’ preferences are ‘easier’ to study as they seem to take place in a formalized environment. However, booktrade still takes place in various types of informal settings: from selling across social media platforms to second-hand book markets and street vendors. These parallel exchanges provide information about readers’ preferences, needs, and tastes.
This panel presents two of these parallel book trajectories. The first one focuses on the three “circuits” of circulation of books that prevail in Daryaganj Sunday Footpath Book Market in Old Delhi, by way of three specialised stalls from the bazar. The second one looks at the vagoneros, pedlars who work in Mexico City’s metro and on occasions offer books to the commuters. The panel compares the strategies used by the market and itinerant sellers, as well as the types of books offered, and some observations on the clientele. The aim of this panel is to theorise these parallel trajectories as part of a global book and print culture.
Daryaganj’s Parallel Book History
Daryaganj Sunday Footpath Book Market is a local weekly informal market for used books that has been operating on the streets of Old Delhi, every Sunday for the past five decades. While there are several such sites all over India and worldwide, this bazar is unique, especially since it plays a significant role in serving the speculative category that is the reading public of Delhi. Daryaganj Sunday Book Market is a site for slippages, or, the unwanted events in the proper circuit of circulation of books (Darnton, 1982). These slippages, then, shape into suitable circuits at the bazar. In this paper, I will discuss three such trajectories/ circuits, with the twofold aim of eliminating a bird’s eye view of publishing and circulation of books in Delhi and expanding Darnton’s formative speculations on what is book history. Taking three specialised book stalls found at the bazar as my case-studies –– (a) second-hand fiction titles, (b) used or photocopied syllabus and out-of-syllabus books, and (c) duplicate or pirated books –– I will argue that each stall represents a “parallel” circuit, with its books removed (or, diverted) from the “original” circuit as such, which affects their value, both, as texts and commodities.
These ‘parallel’ circuits correspond with the types of booksellers at the Sunday Book Market. As I delineate the circuits, I will locate the booksellers of this book bazar. By ‘locating’, I mean the way they began and maintain their engagement with the Patri Kitab Bazar as sellers, thereby actively enabling the processes of production and dissemination that operate in this market. How do they accumulate and use their knowledge in procuring books, displaying them, choosing to specialise or not, grow and diversify or not? That is, facilitating each book’s ‘discovery to delivery’ that is found in this market.
The aim of this paper is not only to describe the several ways in which ‘parallel’ trajectories and forms of knowledge are manifested in this market space and in/by its actors, but also to theorise it, and place it in the contemporary discourses on South Asian Book History and Print Cultures.
Vagoneros: informal booktrade in Mexico City
Andrea Reyes Elizondo
In Mexico City, there are several distribution networks of various types of informal print. While some of the books sold may be illegal copies of contemporary best-sellers, most are chapbooks of no more than 100 pages. These chapbooks can be found at press kiosks in various cities and at street markets. A remarkable distribution mode is through vagoneros: pedlars who operate illegally in the metro of the capital using strategies similar to those described by Jeroen Salman.
The books on offer are usually abridged copies of well known texts (Anne Frank’s Diary or Don Quixote), or miscellanies on a subject by unnamed authors. Most lack clear bibliographical data and therefore are rarely considered in the analysis of what some people buy and read. Owing to the length of the texts and the low incidence in which they are consumed by individual readers, the buyers could fall into Joëlle Bahloul’s category of “precarious readers”, which may explain their absence in Mexican Book History. The books sold by vagoneros reflect the value that the buyers give to the printed word and to the notion of self-edification, a value that is recognised and utilised as a selling strategy by the printers and sellers.
Based on empirical data, this paper presents an overview of the selling strategies and organization of the vagoneros, as well as their supply chain. It then analyses the books by subject and typographical characteristics. Finally it includes observations of some of these “precarious readers” reading these books in the metro. The aim of the paper is not only to present an overview of this type of trade and those involved in it, but to place the books, sellers and buyers in the contemporary History of Print in Latin America.
This roundtable will discuss the ways in which contemporary Iranian literature works after the Islamic revolution of 1979, focusing on modes of production, distribution and reception of literature. It will focus on the complex functioning of the Iranian literary field and its evolutions in the past forty years. It will also question the extent to which book history theories and methods can be applied to the Iranian context, where sources are difficult to access and censorship applies. Scholars in this roundtable will address the question of the Iranian literary field from different perspectives and angles, with a focus on several points: literary institutions and their relations to other components of the field; access to certain sources only versus restricted access to others and how this shapes our understanding of the field; the link (broken link?) between the Iranian literary field and the rest of the world, with questions of translation and transnational flows. The Iranian case offers a way to think about some challenges encountered in book history in recent decades and a comparative point that will be particularly relevant to scholars working on authoritarian regimes and/or non-Western countries.
How can we deal with evidence of the history of books that is constructed through their circulation within transactional networks? What might such data look like, and where should scholars of the book situate it as evidence? This panel approaches these methodological problems through the case studies described below.
Presenter 1 discusses the phenomenon of variant price listings for 18th- and 19th-century novels as recorded in the contemporaneous periodical press. Significant variation among prices listed in external sources such as notices and advertisements reminds us that the book trade was heavily intermediated by advertisers and retailers during this period. The presenter develops criteria to identify variant price listings as bibliographical data that has direct bearings on our understanding of the book as a commercial object.
Presenter 2 examines the situation of the Sarah-ad, an anonymous doggerel commentary on Sarah Churchill’s prose-biographical Account whose publisher intended it to be “bound up therewith” Churchill’s text. The Sarah-ad is thus explicitly linked to the Account, its Hudibrastics alluding to and deforming the documentary history. The presenter reads the text as part of an intertextual circulation system, entangled with both Churchill’s Account and also the couplet form in the 18th century.
This panel applies Bowers’ principle that bibliographical investigation must begin with historical analysis to the textual objects linked to books. We posit that the primacy of bibliographical data is not only a matter of physicality (its location relative to the book) but of function— that is, what it tells us about the book as it existed within the print marketplace. The bibliographical method aims for total, self-sufficient accounts of books, relegating extrinsic evidence to secondary or correlative importance. In focusing on so-called extrinsic evidence, this panel suggests reorienting our attention to the social transactions that produce them.
The Stemmatics of Book Prices in the British Periodical Press, 1750–1836
From the mid 18th century to the late 19th, the retail prices of most British books survive—usually not on the title pages of books themselves, but rather in periodical sources such as newspaper advertisements, review notices, and trade catalogues. Over the last 20 years, economic historians of the book trade such as William St. Clair, Simon Eliot, and Robert Hume have studied the ramifications of long-term price trends for publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. Yet few studies have examined the provenance of price listings or the reasons prices often conflict from source to source.
This talk argues that in order to be interpretable as data, prices must first be legible as texts—which, like literary texts, follow complex stemma through multiple intermediaries. Drawing principally from bibliographies by James Raven and Peter Garside, I construct a retail price index of 4,560 novels published in Great Britain from 1750–1836, tracing each variant price’s source(s), date, and accompanying binding state. I find that almost 12% of novels have a pricing conflict that binding alone cannot explain. By identifying chronological patterns across source publications, I develop criteria that help to distinguish transmission errors, unlisted binding variants, and actual changes in price by the publisher. I check these trends against a narrower sample of 15 novels published by Edinburgh firm Oliver and Boyd, whose ledgers contain detailed accounts of both advertising commissions (which establish the authority of specific price listings) and trade sale revenues (which set lower limits for the prices at which booksellers could profitably sell copies). I argue that a jointly textual and statistical approach to book prices clarifies the purposes periodical price listings served—not just for readers during an era of widening inequality, but for publishers and booksellers who had a vested interest in keeping prices high.
Proper to Be Bound Up Therewith, the Physical and Poetical Entanglement between Sarah-ad’s Hudibrastic Verse and Sarah Churchill’s Documentary Account
James P. Ascher
Published nearly thirty years after the events, Sarah Churchill’s Account tries to vindicate her close relationship and falling out with the then-deceased Queen Anne. It assembles sober documentary evidence and bitter invective, which quickly attracted an anonymous Hudibrastic treatment, the Sarah-ad, which announces itself on its title page to be “proper to be bound up therewith.” This poetic genre and treatment emphasize the marginality of the already marginalized by linking the physical book to popular doggerel. It follows the sense of the Account page by page in rough couplets, but it undermines Churchill’s self-defense by turning the meanings. The Account states things more directly and more fully, so who sides with the poem? Maybe the badness critiques the facile reading of the attached work? Or, perhaps our modern empathy resists the cruel pleasure of having another’s life reduced to scandalous Hudibrastic doggerel? A linked text like this generally faithfully abridges, adapts, or critiques, but the Sarah-ad faithlessly abridges, adapts, and critiques as independent Hudibrastics had before.
It’s widely claimed that Hudibrastics after Samuel Butler declined. In part, what Pope solidifies for the heroic couplet destroys the octosyllabic, feminine rhymed, enjambed couplet the Restoration-era Butler pulled off. End-stopping and closure break the rugged, string-on, periphrasis; transparency uncovers a thin theme; and, badness as aesthetic choice becomes too harsh when clear. But the Sarah-ad seems to do something new. Its badness undermines the subject, but the line-for-line alignment abridges and the poetry adapts.
I will read a short passage of the Sarah-ad and explain the bibliographical and generic situation needed to read it with Paul Hunter’s “double consciousness.” Both Hudibras and Sarah-ad come from notes on reading, but the Sarah-ad aligns with one main text, inviting us to find parallels with other—more heroic and serious—couplets and association with abridgments, adaptations, and critiques of documentary history. The Hudibrastic is not quite dead yet in the mid-eighteenth century.
There is probably no literary field as indebted to the circulation and distribution of texts as world literature. In fact, in his field-shaping 2003 work What is World Literature?, David Damrosch famously defines world literature as “all literary works that circulate beyond their culture of origin, either in translation or in their original language.” It seems then that there are obvious overlaps between world literature, a field conditioned by the transnational or global circulation of texts, and book history and the study of print culture, whose methods involve trace the routes of texts through their networks of production, distribution, and reception. While there is fascinating and important work happening at this intersection, the overlaps between these two fields are often not examined systematically within the central discourse of world literature studies. This panel aims to parse the particular methodological affinities between these two fields. What do these two fields have to say to each other? And how can the methods of one answer the questions of the other?
Novels without borders. The case of the rise of the novel in the context of Anglo-Spanish relations
The intersection of literary studies and the history of the book, which has led to the consideration of texts in the contexts of their creation, circulation and reception, is conducive to the study of literature in the transnational rather than national perspective. Literary studies has traditionally functioned as a national discipline which obscured the crucial role that international literary as well as extraliterary relations played in the development of diverse literary modes. The study of circulation of books amends the situation since it brings to light the significant role contacts between diverse national literatures play in the study of their forms and conventions. It is the purpose of this paper to consider the theory of the rise of the novel as a case in point. It has been traditionally claimed that the novel as a genre, despite its noticeable similarities to Spanish fiction, originated in England in the early eighteenth century. The analysis of the booksellers’ catalogue lists and library collections and the translations of Spanish fiction makes it possible to assess the interest in narratives imported from Spain and to describe the nature of its influence on English writers and readers. Translations shed light on the process of adapting the Spanish literary models to the taste of the English reading public while the translators’ comments on their own work affords a glimpse into the diverse strategies of downplaying and eventual obscuring of the indebtedness of English fiction to the Spanish narrative modes. The example of the obliterated Spanish influences on the early English novels demonstrates the need to reconsider theories formulated by critics within national frameworks from the perspective of world literature.
“Writers from the Other Europe,” World Literature, and the Literary Marketplace
This paper revisits the “Writers from the Other Europe” series (WFOE), published by Penguin between 1975 and 1989, as a revealing episode at the intersection of book history and world literary history. Under the editorship of Philip Roth, WFOE brought to the US novels from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Hungary, by writers including Bruno Schulz, Danilo Kiš and Milan Kundera. These novels, some published in the US before they could be legally published in their countries of origin, are literary responses to totalitarian oppression abroad. But WFOE as a whole was also a response to what Roth—in an interview with Ivan Klíma—called “Total Entertainment” in the US. It was a series designed to communicate to American readers the importance of the novel in the face of the corporate entertainment industry’s perceived dominance. WFOE invited its audience to read its novels, that is, not just as accounts of life under totalitarianism but also as declarations of the higher ends that only fiction could serve.
How were these declarations made? Each WFOE text featured an introduction from a world literary eminence recruited by Roth. Introducers included Heinrich Boll, Joseph Brodsky, John Updike, Leszek Kolakowski, Angela Carter, and Carlos Fuentes. Their names figured prominently on the cover of each volume and in advertisements. In highlighting these paratextual gestures and the negotiations among authors, editors, and publishers that produced them (drawing on archival research), I emphasize the ways WFOE’s creators both signaled the meaningfulness of their undertaking and offered lasting interpretations of WFOE’s texts. WFOE, I argue, was at once a world literary event and a product of anxieties about the novel’s cultural and economic position in the US. The story of WFOE highlights connections between the circulation of texts around the world and concerns specific to national or subnational literary marketplaces.
Research Lab Abstract
How do the personalities and identities of individuals and printing infrastructures in which they are operating/situated inform the creation and circulation of printed works? This question is addressed through investigations of American printing history, including the Adams power press, and printer-scholars Carl Purington Rollins and Daniel Berkeley Updike. The lab participants will examine the conditions that informed the development of bibliographic values, and how they came to be expressed in approaches to design, the construction of printing infrastructure, and the production of printed objects. Rollins’ and Updike’s approaches and methods were formed by reactions to the communities of printing each directly encountered, and indirectly through printed works. This engagement, which influenced their values, then informed their own community building, populated by the objects they created, collaborations developed, and individuals that relied on their presses for printed works. Infrastructure is similarly informed by these dynamics. An examination of the Adams power press reveals the conditions that cause infrastructure to emerge and the changes it undergoes through time, expressing and in response to bibliographic norms and changing economic and social conditions.
This is also an investigation of the consequences of circulation. Collectively, the examinations of the Adams power press, Rollins, and Updike demonstrate how the influence of printers and their infrastructure is enacted through the production of printed works. Ruffin’s investigation of Rollins illustrates his influence in contributing to the development and codification of norms for scholarly publishing. Hawley’s investigation of the Adams’ power press draws out how infrastructure shapes and is shaped by labor conditions. Riter’s discussion of Updike illustrates the relationship between printing and the creation of archival memory.
In printing texts, printing moves others, whether this be in how communities read and consume printed works, in how they participate in an economy of production, or how they remember.
A Perfect Machine: The Adams Power Press
E. Haven Hawley
The Adams power press printed the vast majority of books in the United States for more than half a century, serving also as the press of choice for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and numerous small newspapers. Critics considered its operations to have perfected book production through its immaculate registration and impression, with labor-saving automation that benefitted society. Printers and publishers considered the technical improvements patented by Isaac Adams to be so important, and so fairly priced, that Adams repeatedly gained extensions to his patents until choosing to sell to his chief competitor, R. Hoe & Company. Whether as mass-production or specialized, recurring print jobs, the press dominated book printing until design limitations of bed-and-platen presses no longer met marketable commercial needs. The press provides a key example of how entrepreneurial, gendered, legal, and political aspects of technological development shaped publishing in the United States.
This presentation shares research underway for the first dedicated history of the Adams power press, charting how its development shaped and responded to the particularities of 19th-century print culture. Animations of the machine’s distinctive movement help to reconstruct information about its operations, as there are no known surviving examples of this press. Patented in 1830 and 1836, with multiple patent extensions, the design joined hand press technologies and printers to a world of mechanized printing, until demand for mid-size bed-and-platens gave way to new designs and sizes. The rise and fall of the Adams power press helped define the world of industrial printers in the nineteenth-century United States.
Moving Archives: Daniel Berkeley Updike’s Archival Printing
The Merrymount Press (1893 - 1949) was noted for the breadth of its work, and commitment to quality and readability. Responsible for printing noteworthy books, two examples being the Altar Book (1896) and the Book of Common Prayer (1930), more unitarian works, such as advertisements and booksellers’ catalogues, exhibited the same degree of attention and precision. Works issued by the Merrymount Press reflected the bibliographic values of its founder and proprietor, Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860 - 1941). Updike has been described by colleagues and printing historians as a historian-printer. Updike was himself a distinguished historian of typography, authoring Printing Types: Their History, Form, and Use (1922), a work which remains an important reference in the discipline. Works issued by the press reflected this historical knowledge, with typographical and design decisions referencing work that Updike found admirable. In this regard, works issued by the Merrymount Press served as a form of public printing history. In addition to literary, historical, and utilitarian works, Merrymount printed a significant number of, what I am calling, archival texts. This category includes editions of diaries, correspondence, journals, gravestone transcriptions, maps, and manuscript facsimiles.
This paper offers an analysis of Daniel Berkeley Updike’s archival printing, the role of the Merrymount Press in supporting the circulation of archival materials, and the nature of the communities sustained by these works. Archival works were commissioned by a range of constituencies, from academic presses concerned with issuing works capable of supporting academic scholarship, to families printing materials from their personal archives for internal circulation. Daniel Berkeley Updike quite literally moved archives through the printing of textual representations. With the aid of the Merrymount Press, records moved out of homes, private collections, and collecting institutions into public spheres where unique documentation could be more widely engaged. Updike was also an archival printer.
Carl “Caslon” Rollins: Discovery & Analysis of Limited Editions
Katherine M. Ruffin
Carl Purington Rollins (1880- 1960) designed over 2,000 books and 8,000 pieces of ephemera during his lifetime. Many of these items used Caslon types. While working within the limitations of traditional letterpress printing practices, Rollins developed a body of work that reflected an intimate familiarity with the canon of printing history and sympathy with the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. He founded an arts and crafts cooperative at the Dyke Mill in Montague, Massachusetts, in 1908. Over time, the cooperative evolved into the Montague Press. In 1918, Rollins took a job at the Yale University Press. He was Printer to Yale University from 1920 until his retirement in 1948. In this role, he helped develop and codify the design conventions of scholarly publishing as well as design items ranging from football tickets to diplomas. He also founded the Bibliographical Press, a teaching press associated with Sterling Memorial Library at Yale.
Rollins often designed and printed with others such as Margaret Rollins, his wife, Bruce Rogers, Daniel Berkeley Updike, and William Addison Dwiggins. Rollins printed collaboratively his students at the Bibliographical Press, where he developed approaches to teaching the processes of historical book production, such as setting type, printing on the hand press, and making paper by hand. These pieces of ephemera and books—by turns whimsical, iconoclastic, and scholarly—were scarce from the moment of their publication and were distributed through social networks and were sold to fund more printing. They are often not catalogued but are discovered in archives or bookseller’s listings. Assembling a collection of Rollins’ work and analyzing the ways in which he was facilitating the display and discovery of text provides the opportunity to explore patterns of production that may inform the teaching of hands-on printing and bibliographical analysis of independent publishing.
Research Lab Abstract
This SHARP research lab on copyright history (one of two being proposed on this broader subject) brings together scholars from law, publishing studies, and cultural history at different stages of career to discuss their works-in-progress. The papers in this lab span the globe during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and deal with a range of fascinating legal and commercial concerns shaping the production, circulation, and reception of various kinds of works – from commonwealth rights and trade publishing in India and racial marginalization in government-sponsored theater in the United States to researchers’ second publication rights under Open Access regimes. In keeping with the SHARP research lab format, authors will not deliver their papers orally. Instead, the papers will be available to registered conference participants in advance of the meeting, and the co-chairs will moderate a detailed discussion of each of the papers. Audience members who have read the papers will also be invited to provide feedback for the authors and/or discuss the broader themes and methodological questions they raise.
Copyright and Commonwealth Rights in Indian Trade Publishing
This paper will examine the historical links between copyright conventions, such as the Berne Convention, and the rise of territorial rights such as Commonwealth rights. It will also analyse how the practice of territorial rights has been solidified by the existence of multinational conglomerates in publishing.
Commonwealth rights grant British publishers publication and distribution rights to former British colonies. A book published by a multinational conglomerate in the UK becomes automatically available in Commonwealth territories such as India through the subsidiary of that conglomerate or a distributor that the conglomerate has an agreement with. However, a book published in India – whether by an independent company or the subsidiary of a multinational conglomerate – is often not picked up for publication in the UK.
Therefore, Indian writing in English is unable to access a global readership. The only Indian writing that is available internationally is usually first published abroad and written by authors who do not reside in India any longer. These practices are furthering the neocolonial structures within global publishing and culture, in which India is considered a consumer market and not a source of good literature.
This analysis will be conducted in the context of Indian trade publishing and the way British trade publishing has impacted it. In my paper, I will employ secondary research from scholarly and industry-based literature, combined with primary research that I am currently conducting through semi-structured interviews with managing directors, CEOs and publishers of leading Indian and British trade publishers. The paper will be informed by neocolonial and postcolonial theories (Barker, Hulme and Iverson, 1994; Bhabha, 1990; Casanova, 2004; Dutta, 2020).
Copyright, Welfare, and Race in the Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939).
This Article investigates how stakeholders in a United States government program negotiate control over creativity under the assumed default position that copyright does not subsist in the work of federal government employees. It is also about how creative stakeholders negotiate the boundaries between copyright and industry customs in times of crisis. In particular, the Article examines how the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Theatre Project–a government program, part of the New Deal of the 1930s–exercised broad discretion over cultural production processes when engaged with both employee and independent-contracting authors. Although scholars have investigated policy and constitutional issues with respect to copyright in government works, there is a paucity of historical research on how government organizations negotiate the terms of protection with both employees and independent contractors in ongoing incremental interactions. The Article explores how damaging stigmas framed the experience of underrepresented creative work associated with the Federal Theatre Project in everyday practice despite the inclusive rhetoric. The triumphs of the Negro Theatre Unit hide a history that suggests, in the mid-1930s, African American theatre was still subject to considerable marginalization. And marginalization of ordinary authors did not happen through overt discriminatory policies, but evolved over time through administrative processes including delaying royalty payments, restricting access to the best collaborators and theatres to stage African-American works, and undermining the author’s artistic choices. This Article speaks to a larger agenda that examines histories of economic and artistic control over theatrical production through the prism of how industry participants organize their relationships rather than the rights that creative stakeholders possess or aspire to possess. In this agenda, I seek to understand histories of cultural production in the space between authors and audiences and how copyright is reallocated in this space.
Opening Scientific Texts. The Author’s Moral Second Publication Right
Roberto Caso and Giulia Dore
Implementation of Open Access (OA) to scientific publications follows two roads: Gold and Green. The Gold Road to OA consists of publishing with open licenses on OA publishing venues (e.g., OA journals). The Green Road consists of re-publishing in OA venues - e.g., self-archiving in institutional or disciplinary OA repositories - works previously published.
Focusing on the latter, there are two legal strategies to execute it. One is contractual (a) and the other is legislative (b).
a) In the copyright transfer agreement (e.g., license to publish), the author retains the rights to re- publish and communicate the work to the public in OA. This strategy works to a limited extent since the publisher has often more bargaining power and may refuse to concede a second publication right. The publisher's greater bargaining power indeed depends on the current evaluation system that binds the judgment to a specific publishing venue (e.g., high Impact Factor journals).
b) To solve this problem, some legal systems provide a digital second publication right. The first was Germany in 2013 (Gesetz zur Nutzung verwaister und vergriffener Werke und einer weiteren Änderung des Urheberrechtsgesetzes, G. v. 01.10.2013 BGBl. I S. 3728 Nr. 59). Its legislative model then circulated in the Netherlands, France and Belgium. In Dutch and Belgian law, the author’s right is unavailable and inalienable, therefore it shares some features of the author’s moral rights, making the argument for its relevance and further dissemination.
This paper aims to outline the historical and philosophical roots of the second publication right in the context of scientific publications, highlighting its “moral” nature. Rooted in the Kantian philosophy of the “public use of reason”, has found in the past application in some legislative provisions (e.g., in France and Italy) brought together by the common goal to provide authors with the opportunity to re-publish works (e.g., articles published in journals). The new second publication right, closely related to the author's moral right in unpublished works, therefore represents a shield of the academic freedom and likewise a major step forward in the overall development of OA.
This panel reconsiders the critical value of “format” for investigating questions of circulation and reader response. While bibliographers have traditionally used format to describe how printers configure pages on the press, scholars including Meredith McGill and Jonathan Sterne have more recently expanded the concept to account for all publisher choices that project the material form and reception of a final product. The papers in this panel examine a selection of small-format artifacts printed during the mid-nineteenth century to demonstrate how adopting format as a lens not only illuminates publisher decisions about audience and conditions for use, but can uncover phenomenological and aesthetic relationships between works that defy obvious differences of content or readership.
At first glance, the objects of inquiry in this panel—missionary tracts distributed in West Africa and a pamphlet edition of the Emancipation Proclamation—may appear to have little in common. Yet attending to their shared miniature formats calls attention to the ways that both tracts and pamphlet were meant to move, in multiple senses of the word. As the talks in this panel demonstrate, the petite materiality of these print artifacts was bound up with their evangelizing function: the highly portable works circulated easily and promised to exert persuasive pressure via their intimate proximity to readers’ bodies. At the same time, the audiences discussed here also brought their own associations to the small-format works they received, including by reframing miniature print items as talismanic objects in ways that challenged and resisted distributor control. Thus while paying attention to format provides clues about how publishers desired their works to function, it can also begin to make visible the meanings and counter-uses that small-format print afforded readers themselves.
“Making Book”: Grebo Religious Practice and Textual Mobility in 1830s Cape Palmas, West Africa
On its October 1835 trip from Baltimore, Maryland (United States) to Maryland in Liberia, the ship Niobe carried a printing press intended for use at the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) station at Fair Hope, Cape Palmas. Also on board was Benjamin Van Rensselaer James, an African American printer. While at Cape Palmas, James published approximately twenty tracts and scriptures, the majority of which were portable texts, often 16mo or smaller. These books were printed in the transliterated Grebo (sometimes called Krumen or Glebo) language.
This paper explores these texts, printed by James, and their use among Grebos in proximity to the Fair Hope mission. As ABCFM missionaries noted, Grebos, like many West Africans, wore gris-gris (or “gree-grees”) as protective talismans. While the ABCFM missionaries certainly envisioned bringing a Protestant version of salvation to the Grebos through the translation of religious tracts and scripture, Grebos themselves understood the portable texts to contain other kinds of power. Reading missionary sources against the grain, this paper argues that Grebo recipients of these portable texts understood them as akin to gris-gris.
Further, “reading” and “books” had dual meaning in Cape Palmas. Ni kinidi, the Grebo term for both print and manuscript, was translated by the ABCFM missionaries as “to make a book.” The term was used both to refer to texts, as well as the process of coming to agreements as Euro-Americans became synonymous with textual contracts. Thus the movement of texts in Cape Palmas was not just one of portable tracts and gris-gris that could be carried on one’s person for religious purposes; rather, I argue these texts themselves had moveable meanings that signaled the relationship of the wearer to the American mission.
“Place it in their hands”: John Murray Forbes’s Miniature Emancipation Proclamation and the Recruitment of Black Soldiers During the US Civil War
Picture the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War-era executive order that changed the legal status of enslaved African Americans living in secessionist states, and you’re likely to imagine a large broadside, perhaps nailed to a tree or held aloft by President Abraham Lincoln. But one of the earliest editions of this document took the form of a miniature pamphlet, no bigger than a standard playing card. This edition was designed by Boston abolitionist and entrepreneur John Murray Forbes for distribution to formerly enslaved people encountered by Union troops in the US South, with the aim of recruiting Black men to join the Union Army’s ranks.
This paper argues that while Forbes’s miniature pamphlets on the one hand construe emancipation as a gift from the government, they also express a powerful message about the relation of individual freedom and the personal possession of print. Forbes sought to reframe the Proclamation as a recruiting document by adopting a format that meant the Proclamation could be placed directly “in the hands of” formerly enslaved African Americans, as well as by adding paratext to his edition that hails Black readers as subjects who owe the nation their labor. Yet with what audiences describe as their “tiny book form,” the pamphlets were radical artifacts in spite of Forbes’s white supremacist framing. In Southern states that criminalized the possession of print by enslaved people, the very act of carrying the miniature Proclamation had the potential to empower non-readers and readers alike. Distributed to formerly enslaved people by soldiers included those serving in the 33rd South Carolina US Colored Infantry Regiment, the bookish format of the pamphlets gestured toward a future shaped by the increased possibility of Black literacy and self-determination.
This panel presents case studies from two countries whose histories intersected in conflict during the early modern period, Britain and Spain, cases that reveal higher-level principles of book historical study. While the tendency in much scholarship is to remain within the horizon of national communities and concerns, these examples demonstrate what is lost by that confined view. Linde M. Brocato's paper will show that, without considering the international exchanges of intellectual and book production, our understanding of a series of Castilian texts is incomplete. Mark H. Danley’s paper will show how a prominent early modern British political figure’s book purchases from a seller with broadly international offerings may seem upon initial view to reflect orientation to a national textual tradition but on deeper analysis reflects a nexus of intra-national and international connections. Ross Karlan as moderator will offer an analysis from the perspective of a scholar of Iberian books in the global context to prompt further conversation about how the case studies presented may illustrate understanding of the movement of books within and among communities. As these European polities expand globally, books and power are inevitably entangled, as revealed in the analyses offered in the presentations of cross-generational and nontraditionally-situated scholars, two of whom are also practicing special collections cataloging librarians (Danley and Brocato).
Hybrid Moves: Transnational Book-Making in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
Linde M. Brocato
Much literary and even book history doesn’t move, really; it situates itself within language communities as polities, staying at home, viewing movement largely as trespassing. While heuristically defensible, this limits understanding even of textual objects as such. Yet, when we expand attention to books as material and social objects, how people get or provide access to texts, our understanding is deepened significantly. This paper presents three cases of late medieval Castilian texts that appeared as bibliographically transnational early modern books. The first is the Castilian Crónica troyana, largely autochthonous though Guido delle Colonne is re-integrated, early imprints of which show a clear bibliographic relationship to Lyon editions of Raôul Le Fèvre’s works, perhaps built on the political relationships of its likely editor. The second is La comedia de Calisto y Melibea, a.k.a. Celestina, first edition of which is better understood situated within French and German book production, including teaching texts of the classics and Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff. The final case is the two 1552 Antwerp editions of Juan de Mena’s poetry, which appear in early modern English book sale catalogs, and are the most abundantly preserved. These editions offer an instructive contrast in the interaction of typography, page layout, navigational aids, and political situatedness. In particular, Jean Steelse’s edition gestures toward the highest levels of Habsburg power, while sharing typographic features that connect it to Brant’s work as an editor and a professor of law. All of these cases provide ample material for considering the hybrid functions of books as material objects within their broad political and editorial context, and the dynamics of power around them, as they and their makers transgress comfortable boundaries.
William Pitt’s Books: National and International Interests In A Changing World
Mark H. Danley
The proposed paper will assess the book purchasing choices of William Pitt the Elder (1708-1778) during a period critical for the development of Britain’s global power. Pitt was a key figure in Britain’s rise to imperial power during the conflicts of the mid-eighteenth century. Understanding the extent and limitations of empire (considered in the cultural as well as political and military sense) requires assessment of the textual underpinnings of the eighteenth-century Whig worldview. This inquiry in turn relies upon examination of the movement of books within Britain as well as into and out of Britain. William Pitt’s political and intellectual life intersected with that process as he became a consumer of books on international subjects such as war, peace, trade and cultural exchange.
Pitt was known to contemporaries as an active reader and purchaser of books. Yet, despite the attention Pitt has received from modern historians, few scholars have gone beyond cursory mention of his actions as a consumer of books. Extant records of Pitt’s purchases from London bookseller Thomas Payne and Payne’s surviving catalogues show, however, that the range of choices before Pitt as he sought to read about the world reflected the international character of the British book trade. Pitt’s choices reveal that while most of his understanding of the world beyond the metropole seems to have come from books produced in Britain he nevertheless also selected books outside his own national tradition from the international offerings of Payne. Analysis of William Pitt as consumer of texts shows that historians of the book must consider both national print culture and international movement together, rather than see them as conflicting lenses of analysis.
Publication, with its etymological roots in “public,” becomes slippery in a world beyond the tidy Habermasian construction of “public sphere.” That public sphere has been enlarged and recontextualized over the past decades—for example, Paula McDowell reconstructs an alternative, female public among Grub Street’s women hawkers, mercuries, and printers at the turn of the 18th century.
Nevertheless, most of our current definitions of publication are still rooted in legal discourse, wherein literary works must present within a capitalist market. These definitions often ignore or are challenged by forms outside of commercial circulation: zines, fanwork, coterie exchange, and privately-printed texts. The notion of a singular “public” into which works are “published” fails to fully account for what Nancy Fraser defined as “counterpublics” and Fred Moten and Stafano Harney as the “undercommons”—that is, spaces of creativity and exchange where members of marginalized groups choose to circulate their ideas.
This roundtable highlights the ways in which conflicting, overlapping definitions of what is “published”—and the attendant discourses of law, literature, gender, and bibliography, among others—impact scholars, librarians, archivists, and readers today. Through examples from both privately printed and manuscript materials, we discuss how varying definitions of publication can miscategorize texts in (or exempt them from) library collections; forestall their digital dissemination; and ultimately influence notions of authorship and literary value.
Originally conceived as a “real” documentary portrayal of the American family as a contrast to seemingly perfect sitcom families, reality shows have now become, in the words of one producer, “unscripted drama” rather than “reality”. Written media, now online, has always borne witness to the criticism and gossip surrounding reality T.V. Now “reality” is also refracted textually through the lens of social media. Book history, which conceives of cultural productions as interactions as opposed to immutable objects, is well-equipped to address this transmedia form of storytelling. Following Leslie Howsam’s four-pronged approach to the book, this roundtable discussion will discuss reality T.V. as text, object, transaction, and experience.
The panelists will address the following questions:
Reality T.V. as Text
What degree of authorial control do reality stars exude over the series? How do associate producers compare to playwrights and other screenwriters?
Reality T.V. as Object
Reality T.V. is mainly a digital object, but do the various viewing platforms and absorption types, from weekly premieres to binged streams or pirated copies, change it?
Reality T.V. as Cultural Transaction
Does publishing a book confer greater credibility and professionalism to reality T.V. stars? How does this synergy compare to other forms of self-promotion, like book tours?
Do the transitive properties of fame function similarly in all subgenres, from professional competitions to shows like 90-Day Fiancé? Are there observable informal norms?
Reality T.V. as Experience
How do tabloids and social media compare to earlier forms of ephemera? How does reality T.V.’s media ecosystem enable transmedia storytelling?
How do the ephemera and the fandoms sprouting from reality T.V. compare to fan fiction and the fandoms of fictional works?
The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP) is a critical digital archive, launched by an international team in 2017. It aims to make archival documents relating to the publishing process open access, and to contextualise those processes through a book historical data model that links publishers’ correspondence and business documents to book objects and the people and businesses involved. Our prototype has focussed on the Woolfs’ publishing house, the Hogarth Press, a ‘medium-sized’ publisher, ‘able to handle a bestseller as well as Heinemann’, which published over 400 works between 1917 and 1946. In our next phase, funded by SSHRC and AHRC, we will include materials relating to other presses, putting US publishing house Alfred A. Knopf (founded by Alfred and Blanche Knopf in 1915), into dialogue with expat publishers and booksellers Sylvia Beach and Nancy Cunard, literary agents William and Jenny Bradley (founded 1909, representing American, English and French authors), and the UK publishing house of Chatto & Windus (founded 1855). Bringing these transatlantic collections together will make it possible to map publishing networks and the circulation of books, ideas and peoples across borders, in a way that has long been difficult for scholars working individually in paper-based archives.
This interdisciplinary panel will reflect on the process of building MAPP as a collaborative, feminist DH project, outline our data model and metadata schema, and offer some insight into our complex work processes on permissions and copyright. We hope to invite a conversation with others working in these fields, to talk further with our users, and to think through some of the challenges and opportunities facing an international digital archival project like MAPP at this juncture.
Each speaker will address a specific aspect of the project: Archives + Book History data model; Digital Humanities methods; Copyright and the Public Domain; Feminism and Collaboration.
This plenary will be the follow-up to our successful and groundbreaking Decolonising Book History roundtable at SHARP in Focus in 2020. Our aim for the Decolonising Book History roundtable was to explore book history’s decolonial and decentring possibilities and limits, and to talk practically about methods for creating change. We were delighted with the response but felt that voices from the Global South were missing from the conversation.
This year’s plenary roundtable will therefore feature five scholars from the Global South who variously work on oral, manuscript, print and/or digital cultures in periods ranging from the 18th to the 21st centuries. In terms of format there are two parts to the roundtable: a five-minute pre-recorded presentation from each participant, and a one-hour “live” discussion/Q&A with all participants and conference attendees. The aims of the roundtable are: to showcase scholars from and scholarship about the global South; to encourage engagement with the conference themes of “moving texts” and textual transactions; and to do so within and across various colonial, decolonial and indigenous histories and realities. Each participant has chosen a text, object or artefact that will be the focus of their 5-minute, pre-recorded presentation.
Our five contributors are: Jacinta Beckwith (New Zealand); Archie Dick (South Africa); Stanley Griffin (Jamaica); Padmini Ray Murray (India) and Chao Tayiana (Kenya).
Between 1947 and 1954 some 170,700 refugees from war-torn Europe immigrated to Australia under the auspices of United Nations’ International Refugee Organization resettlement and the Australian Government’s Displaced Persons Scheme. Together with their ethno-cultural communities, eastern European writers who arrived as Displaced Persons created unique and dynamic literary cultures. The authors, many of whom had begun writing prior to arrival in Australia, wrote mainly in their native tongue. They wrote across all genres, producing poetry, prose, novels, plays, memoirs and essays in a wide range of subject and style. Local networks and structures underpinned the production and circulation of literary texts in Australia; transnational connections allowed for distribution within wider diasporas and original homelands.
Based upon interviews with writers who came to Australia as Displaced Persons after the Second World War and research across the communities undertaken to chronicle their literary cultures, the model below was formulated to illustrate the structure by which literary texts were produced, distributed and consumed within ethno-cultural communities established by this wave of eastern European immigrants. The model is based on field theory as exemplified by Dutch scholar Kees van Rees and derives from his scheme of the contemporary literary field in Western European countries. The aim of the model is to chart the networks between authors and readers, as mediated by literary institutions and agencies.
This panel of two speakers will examine the cases of Ukrainian and Polish writing in Australia, two of the literary cultures established within this wave of immigration. The focus will be upon an integral institution which provided most of the writers with their initial platform for publication: newspapers and periodicals.
Paper 1: What is this thing called a book? Author and work in Camilla Collett’s In the Long Nights 1863–1892
The copyright legislation, as expressed in the concept of intellectual property, establishes legislative bonds between immaterial entities and authors. Historically, the copyright legislation is based on an image of literature as an expression of a person’s inner soul or genius; as opposed to the pre-romantic concept of art as a craft and the result of hard-earned skills. The book industry’s invention of an author’s ‘collected works’ was a commercial manifestation of this notion of an inner connection between the author and her written products.
But neither the concept of the author nor that of a literary work is easily defined. Anonymity, pseudonyms and co-writers can cast doubt on who the real owner of the work is. And the concept of a literary work as an entity of ownership is challenged by the fact that books or texts with the exact same title can undergo profound changes: What is a ‘literary work’, or what is ‘a book’, if a work’s title can signify widely different textual material?
The paper discusses these issues in relation to the three editions of Camilla Collett’s In the Long Nights edited by the author herself (1863, 1866, 1892). The three editions hold the same title, while their content differ profoundly. The claim is that Collett’s publication practice challenges both romantic concepts of the author as well as the notion of a literary work as a fixed entity and expression of the author’s ‘soul’. Rather, Collett’s publishing practice suggests an image of the author as a literary craftswoman in constant dialogue with her textual material and her readers; and who is in an ever-ongoing process to develop her literary products.
Paper 2: Living g/local: the ‘interconnected stories’ of John Pascoe Fawkner
John Pascoe Fawkner, Victoria’s first printer/publisher, began his printing career in 1828 in Launceston when he started the Launceston Advertiser. He moved to Melbourne in 1835 and launched the colony’s first newspaper, the Melbourne Advertiser, on 1 January 1838. The first nine issues were handwritten in ink by Fawkner (Kirsop & Borchardt 1988). Fawkner printed his tenth issue on 5 March 1838, the first in Melbourne, when ‘[an] old wooden press and some battered type were obtained from Launceston (Hauser 2006, p. 26). Fawkner is notable for establishing printing and publishing in the colony; and he maintained a significant voice in the colony after his departure from the industry in the 1840s: he was elected a member of local council in 1845, participated in the separation of the Port Philip district from New South Wales and became a member of the Legislative Council for the newly formed colony of Victoria in 1850, and published letters in local newspapers, expressing his views on colonial life. The objective of this paper, therefore, is to provide a twenty-first-century appraisal of Fawkner and his ‘interconnected stories’ (Howe 2010, p. 2)—as citizen, author and printer/publisher in, what Lester (2002, p. 44) terms, a ‘partially globalised circuits of communication’.
Texts, scholars and disciplines move through time. This panel invites participants to enter The Ullapoolism Time Machine, and from thence to travel to the past and to the future of the history of the book, and of its scholarship. Inspired by the time machines of popular culture (e.g Doctor Who’s Tardis; Outlander’s Standing Stones; Back to the Future’s DeLorean; Hermione Grainger’s Time-Turner), the Ullapoolist Time Machine will offer a creative means for navigating questions foundational to the discipline of book history: questions of periodicity, epistemology and activism.
Ullapoolism, as laid out in ‘The Epistemology of Ullapoolism: Making Mischief from within Contemporary Book Cultures’ (Driscoll and Squires 2020) elaborates a program of post-data, activist and autoethnographic research for contemporary book culture studies. But this panel pushes Ullapoolism beyond its frontiers of contemporaneity. It considers through the creation of a time machine what an Ullapoolism of the Past and the Future might look like; how those travelling within it might act on arrival at their temporarily not-so-distant destinations; in what ways our scholarly horizons might be expanded by such time travel; and - most crucially - what the implications are for the reshaping the history and future of the book.
Our argument within ‘The Epistemology of Ullapoolism’ is that situated knowledge has practical application and that scholarship is not neutral. As mischief-making activists, we use creative critique and playful experimentalism to oppose structural inequity. The new and developing work presented in this panel aims to challenge and explore the potential of academic periodisation; to regenerate the archive; and to imagine the future. The panel will do so by the conceit of two parallel papers - or voyages - one to the Past, and one to the Future.
Please step inside, and buckle up...
The Persistence of the Past in the History of the Book: A Time Machine Tour of Shared Concerns
Faulkner famously wrote that ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past’. The persistence of previous chronological moments is a challenge to scholars of contemporaneity, and — at least superficially — a comforting assurance of ongoing relevance for historians. Yet the blurring of the boundary between past and present creates problems for the historically-minded, too, by working against the periodicity that has come to define sub-fields of humanities disciplines. In book history, including at SHARP conferences throughout the ages, well-known centres of activity are defined by historical periods, e.g. early modern, Victorian and the (long, but how long?) eighteenth century. Each grouping wrestles with and against temporal boundaries, at the same time as scholars hold to a cluster of material, social and textual characteristics that define their period (manuscripts; quill pens; widespread newspaper distribution).
In this paper, the Ullapoolist Time Machine visits some of these past periods (with the assistance of a Zoom seance, perhaps, or the aid of props from a dress-up box), and uses the 11 articles of the Ullapoolist Manifesto (https://ullapoolism.wordpress.com/manifesto/) to consider prevailing book historical methodologies. How are playfulism, amateurism/rapidism, and art evident in book historical research? Can historians be presentist? What ethical quandaries arise? What social groupings are forced? A focus on materiality is a given; but were people sick of “the smell of books” even in the eighteenth century? Satire had its hey-day then, but is it useful to be satirical about history now? And how is historical work (such as that of Women’s Book History, Coker and Ozment) turned to the cause of Scholarly Direct Action? The aim of this paper is to consider how scholars of the contemporary might join forces with those from historical periods to pursue shared intellectual and social goals.
The Future of the History of the Book: Book Historian Futurologist Avengers Assemble!
It’s time to step out of the Ullapoolism Time Machine into the future. From around the world and across subdisciplinary historical periods of study, scholars assemble for an event advertised as SHARP2021. They bring with them various super-powers, including tallow candle-making, descriptive bibliography, and chocolate biscuit-machine construction. Their outfits offer subtle and not-so subtle signals as to these scholars’ provenance: tweed; corsets; lycra; panama hats. Is this a SHARP conference? Or THE BOOK HISTORY AVENGERS?
With their knowledge of the various pasts and presents, and of the diachrony and synchrony of their subjects, THE BOOK HISTORY AVENGERS converge in order to imagine futures. But not the future of the book; for this, they determine, is a question from the past. Instead, their mission - should they - we - choose to accept it - is the following: how will we all contribute to The Future of the History of the Book?
Like storytelling, futurology is a creative mode that energises scholarship. In particular, envisioning utopias and dystopias invites researchers to consider the change-oriented question, “what if”. What if researchers stopped travelling the globe? What if book historians were more diverse? What if book history became institutionally dominant? What if it went underground?
Within this paper, and to conclude the panel, the attendees will be invited to generate these book history futures, beginning with a consideration of what might be the book historical periodisations of the future, and using a variety of exciting online zoomery techniques. The paper will extrapolate from the speaker and audience’s knowledge of the past and present to sketch out future worlds and alternative states; some better, some worse. How can we avoid threats, and concentrate and nourish what we value? Who are the book history futurologists? What will they make happen?
This panel focuses on cultural histories of unauthorized reproduction and translation in print culture and sheds new light on the role of intellectual intermediaries and informal circulation in preserving, disseminating, and altering certain ideas and texts. Panelist Margie Borschke will discuss how an ad hoc network of Anglo-American philosophers in the late 20th Century marshalled technologies of reproduction to record, reproduce and informally disseminate Saul Kripke’s unpublished lectures. Panelist Jeonghun Choi will examine how popular writers of 19th century Japan duplicated and domesticated the Western historical knowledge through unauthorized translations and adaptations of popular Euro-American history books, in their own works on universal history. Whereas the panelists share an interest in various ways a text can be copied and transmitted, they also intend to highlight unauthorized circulation as an integral part of the broader intellectual process in which intermediate agents build a discursive space, where original texts are not only preserved but critically examined. By bringing together these two genealogies of knowledge transmission and intellectual history into contact with one another, we hope to identify commonalities and differences that will contribute to deeper understanding of copying and distribution as key cultural practices in intellectual history.
Networks of Influence and Scholarly Samizdats: The Social Circulation of Saul Kripke’s Lectures in the 20th century
American philosopher Saul Kripke’s work on necessity and possibility revolutionized contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of language and modal logic in the 20th Century. Kripke’s ideas remain central to philosophical debate in the analytic tradition yet, much of his work remains unpublished and a great deal of his influence stems from the private circulation of lectures and other unpublished work. This paper examines the dissemination of Kripke’s lectures in the late 20th Century via an ad hoc network of scholars and students who produced unofficial transcriptions, recordings and distributed them via unauthorised copies and informal networks of circulation. It considers the material dimensions of scholarly discourse and seeks to understand how philosophers marshalled technologies of reproduction to build knowledge networks and protect discursive traditions.
In Kripke’s published works he offers explicit genealogies of their production and refers to their ‘samizdat’ transcriptions and antecedents (eg Kripke 1982, x). The invocation of a samizdat—the underground network of publication and distribution by dissidents in the Soviet Union (Zaslavskaya 2008)—merits attention as it suggests that the creation of a space for scholarship that exists outside of the official channels is a desired and necessary one. It also highlights the social dimension of philosophical publication and nods to a poetic dimension to the circulation of Kripke’s work and reputation. Tracing the cultural history of Kripke’s unauthorised publications is an opportunity to identify key narratives about how philosophy should be practiced, throughout its history and in the contemporary university, and to consider how oral traditions and informal discursive spaces have been preserved, simulated, altered and adapted via documentation, mediation and circulation.
Kripke, S. A. (1982) Wittgenstein on rules and private language: an elementary exposition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Zaslavskaya, O. (2008) ‘From Dispersed to Distributed Archives: The Past and the Present of Samizdat Material’, Poetics Today, 29(4), pp. 669–712. doi: 10.1215/03335372-081.
Popularization of Historical Knowledge in Meiji Japan: Writers of Hakubunkan and Universal History of Wars
This paper explores how popular writers of modern Japan shaped the common readers’ grasp of the Western history in the late nineteenth century. By spotlighting Universal History of Wars (Bankoku Senshi, 1894-1896), a historical series put out by the publishing house Hakubunkan, the paper discusses how popularizers played a crucial role in diffusing knowledge on Euro-American history in Meiji Japan.
Specifically, this paper explores the manner the educational system in the 1870s conditioned a new media ecology in which Hakubunkan became one knowledge-producing institution with its writers. This paper then examines how popular historians translated, cited, or plagiarized Western sources to weave grand narratives of Universal History of Wars. The non-professional historians’ overdependence on a small number of secondary sources limited their latitude in choosing events and plots for the narrative structures. This paper, however, also highlights that the writers’ strategy of domesticating the texts through alluding to Chinese classics resulted in offering original meanings to the Euro-American past, thereby rendering this historical knowledge a variant of the events and teachings one can learn from classical canons. To examine how such a process of domestication actually shaped the readers’ grasp of the Western past, this paper analyzes a local intellectual’s reading of one of the volumes in Universal History of Wars. The localization of Western knowledge at the hands of popularizers and readers reveals that unauthorized translation not only facilitated the transnational dissemination of knowledge from Euro-America to Japan, but also reconfirmed the veracity of the classical texts.
Responding to the conference’s emphasis on sketching out the processes of textual movement, as well as the role of intermediaries in the life cycle of the book, we will present 5 very brief papers that trace the circulation of particular texts and authors, and consider the roles of librarians and other intermediaries in both facilitating and blocking access to texts. Our brief presentations on the role of intermediaries will focus on the Library of Innerpeffray, in rural Perthshire, and Westerkirk Library in Dumfriesshire. At Innerpeffray in 1823, law student William Young complained of being ‘arbitrarily […] expel[ed] from the enjoyment of his right’ to enjoy the ‘positive advantages’ of the use of the library, by the ‘distinct power of a man of rank’. At Westerkirk, founded in 1790 for the ‘mutual improvement’ of miners, the committee purchased stock from the Edinburgh booksellers Peter Hill and Archibald Constable. The library’s dealings with booksellers during this period were formative, in terms not only of the works that were added to its collection, but of Westerkirk’s institutional shaping as an object of social, intellectual, and financial concern for its members.
Our research on the circulation of texts and authors will be represented by presentations on the following subjects: James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair’s The Institutions of the Law of Scotland (1681), Scott’s novels, and Charles Rollin’s Method of Teaching and Studying the Belles Lettres (published in translation in Britain in 1734). Stair prefaced the first edition of his work with the hope that it would have appeal beyond the legal community and be ‘pleasant and useful to all persons of Honour and Discretion’. Stair’s Institutions, a systematic approach to Scots law, became an authoritative work which retains its importance today. This presentation will consider the readers who borrowed Stair’s Institutions. A cache of newly discovered records of the Wigtown Subscription Library from c.1828-36 enables individual book histories to be traced from proposals of texts by named subscribers, through detailed purchasing information including carriage and binding, to borrowing data. Throughout, the transformative effect of Walter Scott’s writing on the library culture of the early nineteenth century is clear. The Frenchman Charles Rollin was the authority most frequently consulted by Glasgow students during the 1760s, indicating the extent to which what was later characterised as the Scottish Enlightenment was operating in the context of European networks of people, knowledge and forms. Examining borrowings of Rollin’s works demonstrates his influence both on generations of Scottish readers and on later authors, including Hugh Blair, whose Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres eventually outmoded Rollin’s treatise.
As a whole, the session will aim to reconfigure how we might think about library history, and propose some new methods for the study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century book culture.
The Bookselling Research Network will host a panel for SHARP 2021 with a focus on Selling Books in Challenging Times. Presentations will include an autoethnographic study of personal experience bookselling during the pandemic and a report of interviews with booksellers talking about their responses to the challenge. Presentations will be pre-recorded on-site at local bookstores in the UK. The Bookselling Research Network brings together researchers, booksellers, publishers, and people and associations from around the world who share a common interest in the history, practice, and culture of bookselling.
Bookselling at the ends of the world: an autoethnographic study of rural bookselling in the COVID-19 pandemic
Dr Will Smith
Bookselling in Britain has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several waves of restrictions on and forced closures of physical premises have challenged a trade which has come to depend on people assembling and spending a duration browsing. Aside from reaching customers the pandemic has also heightened pressure points in supply and distribution of print books. Publishers, wholesalers and delivery services have all experienced pressure on their core functions, placing additional strains on a bookshop’s ability to sell the books consumers demand. This presentation adopts autoethnographic methods to understand the implications of the pandemic on bookshops, reflecting on personal experience bookselling during the COVID-19 pandemic in a small rural English bookshop. B.N. Langdon-Davies’ The Practice of Bookselling (1951) considered villages as ‘remote from bookshops’, even describing mobile bookstalls as challenging in ‘the unfertile ground of village life’ (155). Sam Read’s in Grasmere subverts this notion as a longstanding village bookshop, which opened in 1887. No doubt connected to the Lake District’s long appeal as a cultural landscape, footfall to the bookshop has only increased after the National Park’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. Situating the pandemic in historical disruptions to the rhythm of bookselling in Grasmere, this presentation also looks at how mail order and developing a transactional website have functioned during 2020 and 2021. Understanding the impact the pandemic has had from the point of view of one bookshop, this presentation provides rich evidence of the wider challenges facing the book trade in Britain.
Community, Curation, Convening: Lockdown Strategies of UK Booksellers.
Dr Eben J Muse
“Indie Bookstores, Once on the Verge of Disappearing, Are Making a Comeback” was the headline for a WBUR radio show in February 2020 (Knotts). The show was reporting on a 49% rise in ABA membership during the previous decade in America which Ryan L. Raffaelli, speaking on the programme, credited to their focus on the three “C”s: Community, Curation, Convening (Raffaeli 2020). Within a month of this broadcast, the story had reversed and the headlines were about bookstores in peril from the lockdown (though the number of new bookstores continued to increase in 2020). Survival for small, independent bookstores in the UK has depended in part on support from organisations such as the Booksellers Association, but the creative responses of booksellers to the pandemic has been the deciding factor for surviving stores. This paper will report on interviews conducted with UK independent booksellers about their responses to the pandemic and the roles that community, curation and convening have played.
Knotts, B. (2020, February 18). Indie Bookstores, Once On The Verge Of Disappearing, Are Making A Comeback. In On Point. WBUR.
Raffaelli, R. 2020. “Reinventing Retail: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores.” Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 20-068.
This session focuses on a major cultural intermediary in the book industry, the literary agents, whose role, unlike that of publishers or other cultural mediators such as translators is under-researched. Agents largely contribute to the complex network that shape the interrelations between author and readers. Agents have absorbed part of the tasks originally assigned to publishers, introducing a new division of labor in the book industry. The literary agent may act as representative of an author in his negotiations with publishers (primary agent), s/he may also act as an intermediary between the original publisher or the primary agent and foreign publishers for translation, or with film producers and theaters for adaptation. These two functions can be divided between primary agents and co-agents, but many agencies exert both of them. In so doing, the literary agents’ activities span from the discovery and preselection of authors to the aftermath of the book’s publication, and its circulation in the domestic culture up to its international audience.
The two papers will focus each on one of these two facets of the literary agent. “Literary Agent’s Practices: From Advocacy to Co-Production,” will present some of the results of a collective survey led by sociologists Gisèle Sapiro and Tristan Leperlier, focusing on the primary agents. Historian John Raimo’s paper “The Business of Europe: The Agenzia letteraria internazione and the Postwar European Market,” will develop a case study illustrating the role of literary agents in the international circulation of literary works.
Literary Agent’s Practices: From Advocacy to Co-Production
Gisèle Sapiro, Tristan Leperlier, Lilas Bass, Delia Guijarro Arribas
This paper analyzes the professional practices of what one can call—drawing upon and further developing Howard Becker’s terminology—a cardinal intermediary: the literary agent. Literary agents have gained a central position in the book industry as cultural intermediaries between authors and their readers. Presenting themselves as the representatives, and even as the advocates (many literary agents in the US were former lawyers) of the authors vis-à-vis their publishers, these agents appear to closely share the interests of the latter. In the aftermath of the economic restructuring of the book publishing industry since the 1980s, some of the historical roles of publishers (such as discovery, intellectual support during the writing process, and even editing) have been partially transferred to the literary agents, who have all the more internalized the economic constraints of the publishing industry which many first experienced as former editors themselves upon entering the profession in the 1990s.
More than aggressive advocates, literary agents may be described in many cases as co-producers of the books, taking on the role of midwives by helping the authors in giving birth to their work. Many of their professional practices with authors revolve around the feminine dimension of “care.” Others are editorial: discussing the proposal, reading, and revising. Their commitment as co-producers of the authors’ works depends on several factors which we will elaborate, among which the difference between primary and what we call secondary agents; gender; professional background (editor/lawyer); and the genre of the book, in particular the difference between non-fiction/youth literature/fiction.
This paper will describe the different steps of an agents’ work from the project to the publication and promotion, based on about 60 interviews with literary agents in different countries (e.g. France, USA, Spain, UK, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, Brazil, Israel, and Poland).
The Business of Europe: The Agenzia letteraria internazione and the Postwar European Market
John D. Raimo
Can literary agents craft national markets? The Agenzia letteraria internazione (ALI) under Luciano Foà (1915-2005) and Erich Linder (1924-1984) effectively monopolized the export of early postwar Italian literature. The agency similarly controlled the import of foreign literatures into Italy. The ALI not only mediated between publishers but also between countries on the strength of prewar networks, polyglot capabilities, commanding knowledge of foreign literary milieus, and expertise in the sale and purchase of foreign rights within separate nations. Linder refined the ALI’s role as a mediator of market inefficiencies between authors, publishers, and foreign or Italian audiences. The agency’s dual-character yielded its own cultural capital, allowing for a ‘quality control’ external to publishers that they themselves soon adopted. The ALI located itself between national and international literary fields; in doing so, it substantially defined a postwar Italian literary canon abroad and at home. The agency’s influence soon stretched beyond Italian literature to contact with eastern European publishers and socialist state literary agencies.
This paper traces the postwar history of the Agenzia letteraria internazione. I focus upon Foà, Linder, and their initial postwar representative in Paris, BJ Buber (1892-1951). I explore the creation of the ALI’s semi-monopoly specifically at the point of international literary transfers, market expansion, and the broader rise of literary agents in Europe. The ALI developed what I term the politics of the first option, namely the careful balance of offering or withholding foreign rights in order to advance an entire portfolio of Italian or, later, foreign authors. Here the ALI enjoyed a different time scale than publishers and book fairs while leveraging it position domestically and abroad. Finally, the ALI’s marketing of Eastern European literatures in the early Cold War, namely those of the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia, solidified its international importance.
Questions about readers and textual circulation in the age of participatory social media center this roundtable. How does what Simone Murray calls “the digital literary sphere” recondition readership and textuality? What can these new conditions tell us about the history of the book and the future of reading? When readers, particularly those who are not, as Jonathan Rose notes, “professional intellectuals,” document their engagement with texts and other readers on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and other social media outlets, they form social movements, fandoms, and interpretive communities. We will discuss our respective research on the reading behaviors of electronically networked individuals and publics. We will expound on how and why to study platformed audiences at the intersection of digital cultural studies, the future of reading, and the history of the book—from readers and fans who annotate real digital maps with places they’ve read about in novels (such as an Amsterdam bench in The Fault in Our Stars), to the circulation of James Baldwin in #BlackLivesMatter tweets or Phillis Wheatley in the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. These subjects introduce pivotal questions about both quantitative and qualitative methodologies for measuring and interpreting online reading behaviors—web scraping, text mining, interviews, data visualization—as well as larger critical frameworks such as digital race, digital gender, and online user agency that can frame our studies of networks of books, readers, and online media.
How do you move a text across a national border? While one can put a book in one’s suitcase and travel to a foreign country, relocating a text for a new audience in another country is not so simple.
Repurposing texts for new audiences requires that the translator, editor, and/or publisher navigates the linguistic, socio-political, and religious specificities of original texts for different audiences. Translations from Latin to Spanish or from Spanish to English, as the ones explored in this panel, vary in terms of accuracy to the original texts, often because of the translator or editor’s propagandistic aims, but they also differ in terms of bibliographic appearance to match the expectations of the target audience. Therefore, this panel explores the connections between original texts and their translations and editions produced in other countries, specifically in the British Isles, as in the case of Edward Bellamy’s The Tryal of Wits (1698), and in Spain, with Juan de Soto’s Margaritas preciosas de la iglesia (1617). The texts that Bellamy and de Soto translated, Juan Huarte de San Juan’s Examen de ingenios (1575 and 1594) and Turgot of Durham’s Life of Saint Margaret, Queen of Scots (c. 1100), could not have had more different audiences and aims, which made the feat of moving these texts transnationally all the more impressive.
The papers proposed as part of this panel examine the very issues that emerge when translators, authors, and editors attempt to repurpose texts for new audiences of a different national origin. What are the political aims in translating texts from other countries? How do different editions and/or translations of a text compare to each other and to the original text? What do the changes, if any, in the resulting editions mean, and how can we explain those changes?
“Imitando a las Tres Margaritas”: Translating the Life of Saint Margaret, Queen of Scots (c. 1100) for Early-Modern Royal Spanish Audiences
Marian Toledo Candelaria
In 1617, Juan de Soto’s Margaritas preciosas de la iglesia was published in Alcalá de Henares by the house of Andrés Sánchez de Ezpeleta. The Margaritas preciosas collects the hagiographies of three Saint Margarets—Saint Margaret the Virgin or of Antioch, the one known as “Pelagio Monge,” and Saint Margaret of Scotland—as a way of comparing their virtues to those of Margaret of Austria, queen consort of Philip III of Spain (r. 1598-1621), to whom the volume is dedicated. The inclusion of Saint Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093), an eleventh-century Scottish queen descended from the Wessex royal line is quite telling: the Life of Saint Margaret, Queen of Scots, composed ca. 1100 by Turgot of Durham, first English bishop of St Andrews, was dedicated to another queen consort, Edith-Matilda, wife of Henry I of England and eldest daughter of Saint Margaret and Malcolm III (r. 1058-1093), king of Scots. Several studies have focused on how the Life of Saint Margaret was reproduced and repurposed for different audiences in Scotland and England, but there is little research as to how this hagiography was received and read by continental audiences, especially when the audiences in question are of royal and aristocratic stock.
This paper, therefore, examines how Juan de Soto translated the contents of the Life of Saint Margaret in Spanish in a way that was relevant to its Spanish royal audience. By first identifying the sources from where Juan de Soto obtained his information on Saint Margaret of Scotland and then examining the contents of his commentary on the text, it is possible to ascertain the ways in which a medieval Scottish hagiography can be repurposed to suit the needs of an early modern royal Spanish audience, and how earlier Scottish texts were disseminated in early-modern Spain.
“Made English from the most Correct Edition”: Textual and Bibliographic Domestication in Edward Bellamy’s 1698 Translation of the Examen de ingenios
Juan Huarte de San Juan’s (c. 1529-1588) Examen de ingenios, one of the most important medical and psychological texts of early modern Europe, has had a complicated publication history from its inception. The first edition published in 1575 in Baeza, Spain made its way onto the Spanish Inquisition’s 1584 Index librorum expurgatorum. This led Huarte to revise the text, which was then published by his son in 1594 using the same printer. These pre- and post-Inquisition versions co-existed in the 50+ editions published throughout the 16th and 17th centuries in Spanish and through multiple translations into Dutch, English, French, Italian, and Latin.
The two complete and extant English translations were published in 5 editions: four of them (the 1594, 1596, 1604, and 1616 London editions printed by Adam Islip) correspond to Richard Carew’s (1555-1620) translation of Camillo Camilli’s 1582 Italian translation from the 1575 pre-Inquisition text; the fifth one, published in 1698 by Richard Sare as The Tryal of Wits, offers Edward Bellamy’s translation, which is primarily based on the 1594 post-Inquisition Spanish edition. Bellamy’s work, however, is more than a mere translation of the revised edition of Huarte’s work; it is in fact a pro-English, pro-Protestant and anti-Spanish, anti-Catholic manifesto based on both the 1575 princeps and the expurgated 1594 editions constructed via a domesticating approach to translation, the use of distinctly English typographical practices, and crucial additions, redactions, and modifications of paratexts and both versions of the main text.
In short, the example of Bellamy’s 1698 The Tryal of Wits demonstrates that the dissemination of the texts across early modern Europe was not simply geographic motion. Rather, adapting a text to a new context and a new audience often entailed multiple strategies executed textually and bibliographically to match the audience’s linguistic, political, and/or religious expectations.
In collecting, enabling the discovery of, and promoting/preserving (some) print materials, librarians fill an evolving regulatory role as cultural intermediaries within a large and complex literary marketplace. The presenters on this panel aim to analyze that role and its effects through a close treatment of a particular print culture phenomenon (literary prizing) and its manifestations in a particular institution of print (the public library). The panelists' shared project takes an institutional view of prizing under prevailing market conditions, with the goal of exploring potential avenues for substantive resistance. Though their work focuses on contemporary library practice, it ultimately illuminates (a) some ways in which prizes reverberate throughout unjust communications circuits and (b) a potential model for critical intervention in these circuits.
In “An Account of the Form & Function of Literary Awards in Library Practice,” E.E. Lawrence will present a conceptual account of library reprizing, or the interlocking norms and practices that reproduce prizes across various library functions—namely collection development, classification, and reader services. Although literary prizing has been criticized for systematically valorizing the work of white, cis, male creators, Lawrence will illustrate how public libraries persist in utilizing awards as unreflective heuristics for aesthetic excellence, sometimes as a matter of policy.
In “A Proposal for Critical Resistance to Literary Awards in the Library,” Diana Floegel will embark on a moral and political analysis of reprizing. By charting prizing’s distinctive harms and placing these in tension with the library’s commitment to informational justice, Floegel will show that reprizing is an apt target of both critique and remediation. To that end, they argue in favor of deprizing as a critically resistant strategy wherein librarians enact material and ideological changes designed to dismantle imperial paradigms in the library.
An Account of the Form & Function of Literary Awards in Library Practice
Literary awards—understood here as formal, collective, and public recognitions of aesthetic excellence—have been criticized for disproportionately promoting the works of white, cis men and so perpetuating structural inequities in print culture that ultimately harm marginalized authors and readers. Despite that criticism, the library as an institution continues to systematically legitimize prizing through a network of professional norms and practices that both rely upon and reproduce (the verdicts of) these awards. In this paper (Part I of II), we offer an account of this phenomenon, which we term library reprizing, tracking its interconnected manifestations in collection development, classification, and reader services. On the basis of this treatment, we posit that reprizing serves a particular ideological purpose within the library, an institution that has intermittently exhibited ambivalence about its own role in cultural gatekeeping and aesthetic assessment. Reprizing, on our account, captures a network of interlocking practices in service of alleviating value tension in the library field, preserving a special role for the librarian as cultural intermediary, and regulating relationships and patterns of consumption in the larger literary marketplace.
A Proposal for Critical Resistance to Literary Awards in the Library
Reprizing is an institutional phenomenon wherein librarians engage in a suite of practices that reply upon and reproduce the aesthetic judgements communicated via literary prizes. In Part I of this two-part project, we provided an account of reprizing and its purpose in the library. Here, in Part II, we discuss prizing’s distinctive harms through two views: one that takes prizing to be contingently unjust, and another that takes prizing to be inherently unjust. The contingent injustice view understands any harms of prizing to be a matter primarily of inequities in the distribution of awards and so underpins a recommendation to alter the selection of prizewinners such that they more accurately reflect aesthetic merit. The inherent injustice view, on the other hand, takes prizing’s main harms to be centered in the structural power dynamics and oppressive capitalist regime that it sustains; this latter view therefore counts in favor of dismantling the entire prizing enterprise rather than endeavoring to rehabilitate it. The two paths to remediation prescribed by these competing views are thus incompatible. Given this, we argue in favor of a non-ideal or transitional approach to moral theorizing around literary prizing, one focused on the ways in which prizing operates in particular institutional settings with their own aims and effects. Here, we ask not what would make these operations fully or purely just (perhaps an impossibility when relevant institutions remain embedded in larger unjust systems), but what would make them more just under real-world constraints. In this way, we are able to chart a course on which library reprizing may be reoriented. We conclude with a proposal for library deprizing, which we believe is a critically resistant strategy for acknowledging and subverting reprizing’s harms.
The world of rare books, archives, and special collections has long been practicing the work of material migration to digital formats. From massive digital repositories such as HathiTrust, DPLA, and the Internet Archive to more home-grown solutions and IRs, librarians and archivists have been tackling this work for decades, opening the door to new possibilities of research. The global pandemic, however, has forced many institutions to limit or completely close off all in-person access to material, making these digital repositories more valuable than ever. It has highlighted the need for important conversations about the future of the field and how access to physical objects/material can affect researchers and their work. Access to print materials, in particular, has long been a necessity for book historians. This roundtable discussion will focus on how libraries, archives, and special collections departments have adjusted to the pandemic and refocused their work on serving a research community that does not have access to physical materials.
The librarians and archivists on this panel will discuss how, during the pandemic, they have found new and creative solutions to provide access to physical materials. This includes expanding avenues of access beyond the traditional digital repositories, teaching with rare materials in a remote/virtual setting, navigating legal issues of copyright and fair use, and integrating both old and new technologies into their everyday practices in order to provide useful access to materials in a pandemic world.
Panelists will provide insights and ideas regarding the work being done to support researchers, research projects, and scholars during this time of great change and upheaval. The traditional practices of the archives have been completely turned upside down during the pandemic. This roundtable will address how those practices have changed and been adapted as a result—and how those changes will have a long and lasting impact on future research in the fields of book history, the history of reading and publishing, and print culture studies.
This roundtable will interrogate the queer book and build a queer book history. While sexuality is not often centralized as an axis of consideration when it comes to the study of book history, LGBTQ2IA+ people throughout history and across geographical locations have utilized the book arts towards building community, visibility, and social change. Through this, and often working in the shadows and at the margins, LGBTQ2IA+ have also queered the book itself. In a roundtable format, we will discuss queer book history projects underway, including the ways in which book history itself must be queered to make space for queer histories. Looking at our efforts across universities to implement queer book history into our teaching and research, we will discuss possible methods, theories, and pedagogies for queering book history and building queer book histories. Collectively we argue for the importance of intersectional, decolonial, antiracist, and feminist queer book history, which strives to locate the material book arts alongside questions of power, embodiment, and justice. Towards these goals, our panel will include Dr. Vance Byrd and Dr. Javier Samper Vendrell, who together are co-editing a book on Queer Print Cultures, forthcoming with the University of Toronto Press. Drs. Byrd and Samper Vendrell will be joined by Kadin Henningsen, and Dr. Ela Przybylo, who both work in the areas of queer publishing studies and book history. Dr. Cait Coker will mediate the conversation. Together, we will examine bibliography and book studies as queer entities whose history is notable through its gaps and omissions and whose silences are loud and clear. We want to recover LGBTQ2IA+ authors, librarians, and publishers, as well as their extended communities of textual production and consumption.
Research Lab Abstract
No work succeeds alone. Intermedia synergy is an intrinsic critical success factor for both individual creative works and emergent publishing industry formats such as magazine serializations, critical and consumer reviews, launch events and tie-in promotion. Indeed, the transmediality of creative works is a key factor in the authoring and distribution of contents, the cross-fertilisation of ideas and communities, and in innovation.
In the first half-century of the information age, the fluid interactions afforded by new communication technologies both accelerated and deprecated elements of intermedia practice. While mainstream media communications circuits have been variously disrupted and disintermediated, collective practices and voices marginalised by the industrialisation of authorship and publishing have re-emerged. In addition to acting as a platform for ubiquitous forms of social reading, web technologies have allowed reader participation in every phase of content production: from reader reviews to translations, direct funding of authors to remixing of content.
Authorship as a transmedia project best reflects the relationship between authoring, publication and distribution of contents, the cross-fertilisation of ideas and communities, and the realities of innovation - though these fluid, dilating possibilities have proven hard to define.
This panel will focus on a case-study based analysis of specific web-based new genres. The panel aims to identify shared transmedia interactions characterising digital-native formats, outlining a common platform for comparative works.
Moving between media: authors and readers in Stjepan and Linda Sejic’s print and webcomics
Dr Francesca Benatti
Webcomics are comics that are published and read on the web in an entirely digital fashion (Priego 2011). Having been in existence for over twenty years, during the last ten they have defined an alternative communications circuit, in opposition to conventional print comics and books circuits (Benatti 2019).
After discussing the differences between print and digital comics communications circuits, this presentation will show how webcomics authors and readers function in a transmedia space that manifests across different platforms (Antonini, Brooker and Benatti 2020). These include websites, reading apps, forums, social media, crowdfunding platforms and face-to-face conventions (Tamagawa 2012). Combined with new publishing formats, these transmedia interactions enable new opportunities for reader participation, leading them to take on intermediary roles traditionally reserved for publishers, such as translator (Sell 2011), funder and promoter.
As a case study, this presentation will discuss the work and career of Croatian comic authors Stjepan and Linda Sejic. It will highlight its transmedia span through a focus on Stjepan’s bestelling Sunstone series (2011-ongoing), which was first released as a webcomic and then became an extremely successful print comic, with spinoff series by Linda (Blood Stain, Swing) and further work presented on free-to-read digital first platforms (Punderworld, The Queen and the Woodborn). The role of transmedia reader agency in the Sejics’ career will be examined as manifested through social media, dedicated forums and crowdfunding platforms.
Antonini, A., Brooker, S. and Benatti, F. (2020) ‘Circuits, Cycles, Configurations: An Interaction Model of Web Comics’, in Bosser, A.-G., Millard, D. E., and Hargood, C. (eds) Interactive Storytelling. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Lecture Notes in Computer Science), pp. 287–299. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-62516-0_26.
Benatti, F. (2019) ‘Superhero comics and the digital communications circuit: a case study of Strong Female Protagonist’, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 10(3), pp. 306–319. doi: 10.1080/21504857.2018.1485720.
Priego, E. (2011) The Comic Book in the Age of Digital Reproduction. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London.
Sell, C. (2011) ‘Manga Translation and Interculture’, in Mechademia 6 : User Enhanced. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 93–108.
Tamagawa, H. (2012) ‘Comic Market as Space for Self-Expression in Otaku Culture’, in Ito, M., Okabe, D., and Tsuji, I. (eds) Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 107–132.
Banking Branches: Creating a sustainable value chain for interactive fiction
Dr Sam Brooker
When it was launched in 2009, Twine was celebrated for centring marginalised voices. Rather than any intrinsic quality of the medium, however, subsequent interviews with Twine creators revealed one common motivator: cost. When it comes to publishing, you can’t beat free.
One cannot live on scholarly attention alone, however. Economic and social marginalisation are often connected, making a robust economic culture vital for the long-term sustainability of these creators; archiving and indexing online works may ensure their preservation, but not necessarily the preservation of the creators themselves. Any discussion regarding the relative lack of new works of interactive fiction also needs to acknowledge the absence of a strong economic imperative. Scholars may bemoan the comparative absence of new writing, but the lack of a commercial culture makes continuous (hence mature) work in this space untenable.
In the disintermediated, disrupted space afforded by online publishing there is a renewed urgency to be entrepreneurial, as traditional sources of revenue withdraw. New systems of online patronage and the perennial Faustian bargain of advertising provide some forms of storytelling potential new avenues for funding. While other media have managed this transition, however, interactive fiction has historically struggled to find an audience outside scholarly or special interest communities. This essay seeks to identify how interactive fiction could find greater prominence and economic sustainability through centralisation, serialisation, and participation.
Practices in Transmedia: a focus on enabling patterns
Dr Alessio Antonini
Transmedia can be looked as a collection of genres based on more than one media. In this view, practices specific to transmedia involve exploiting the unique combinations of media of the specific genre. For instance, the practice of online collective reading is possible due to the interconnection of a publishing medium with a group discussion medium. These interconnections are not strictly technological, i.e. a technical combination of medium giving birth to a new integrative transmedia, but emerging from needs of authors and readers, loosely supported by light-weighted technological solutions. In this framing, the field of content media underlies a wider field of transmedia as the spectrum of all possible combinations of two or more media. The consequence of this perspective is looking to transmedia not as a genre but as one conceptual infrastructure of all potential interrelations between media. The benefit of this novel perspective on transmedia is two-fold. Firstly, if transmedia is ubiquitous then it should be used as a lense of analysis of media and genres, a focus on how the flow of experience and content is realised across media. Secondly, among the potential interrelations, a limited number are actually exploited and, therefore, can be found at the core of transmedia practices. Thus, this second angle opens the question of which interrelation is detrimental or beneficial or, more specifically, which media combinations are synergic for a given genre, theme and context. This paper explores the rationale behind this vision of transmedia, from both the perspective of content creators and the general public. Furthermore, this new perspective is used to discuss a set of transmedia patterns emerging from digital media, such as webcomics, interactive novels, games and social media, attempting an analysis of the rationale for their success.
In 19th-century India and Indonesia, British and Dutch imperialism brought with it a desire to ingratiate colonial missions into the existing print and oral culture by grafting (mapping) the explosion of the European Industrial Revolution’s printing economy onto local cultures. In this panel, both speakers explore the intentions of colonial print culture with a respondent’s perspective about the creation of print culture in South Asia through periodicals.
Modes of Resistance: The Bengal Annual as a Source of Transaction, Consumption & Revision in 1830 Calcutta
Katherine D. Harris
In an effort to spread the authority of England, London publishers often fostered the distribution of illustrated literary annuals and other serial forms to all of Britain’s colonial holdings, including India where Macauley claimed that British reading materials were culturally and socially superior over the colonial (and colonized) subjects. Editor and poet, David Lester Richardson, banked on this popularity by publishing the first literary annual in India, The Bengal Annual for 1830, which included 49 literary texts and 7 woodcut engravings. Far from the gilt-edged and lavishly bound London annuals, Richardson pronounced that “an Editor has to exercise his taste and skill in the arrangement of the various materials” (Preface iv) and opens the volume with a 6-stanza poem immediately followed by “The Literati of British India: A Sketch” by an anonymous author who declares that “we have in India few such personages as men of letters” (4) and that the demand for English literature as a hindrance to the growth of “an indigenous literature” (5). Even with all of this nationalist rhetoric, Richardson closes the 352-page volume with Harachandra Ghose’s translation of “Anacreon, An Ode” from Greek into Bengali. Does The Bengal Annual, despite Richardson’s protests, break free of British colonialism’s stranglehold on material forms of the serial? Or is The Bengal Annual simply another representation of Western capitalism co-opting cultural and artistic excellence for its own glorification? And, at that, promulgating the excellence of a literary form that had been disdainfully accused in 1829 of being merely women’s books? This talk is part of a larger project about the extremely popular literary form, the literary annual, as it was exported and then produced in colonial India but becomes a representation of Western Orientalism. This work, following on my previous monograph, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual 1823-1835, addresses this beautiful form as a contentious, transactional space that allows for more than two subject positions of colonized and colonizer in light of the rich print culture history in Calcutta.
How to put an oral culture into a book? The process of making printing types for Indonesian languages in the nineteenth century
In my paper I would like to dive into the discovery and delivery of printed matter in Indonesia in the colonial period. In the nineteenth century, printing presses and printing types were imported from Europe, especially the Netherlands, to be able to produce printed material for the local population as well as for the colonists.
However, hundreds of languages were spoken, written and read in the archipelago, languages for which typesetting was difficult since the types were not available yet. After all, Indonesia had a mostly oral culture. In order to make printing types, for languages such as Sundanese, Batak, and Madurese, these languages first had to be deciphered by intermediaries. These were linguistic scholars who studied indigenous languages, and who were almost always of European (mostly Dutch) descent. Here an interesting mix of language and culture occurred, mapping the local heritage with a business purpose - designing printing types -. In my paper I want to find out how these scholars got their knowledge, and how they behaved towards local traditions and customs. We know from one Indonesian, the artist Raden Saleh, that he contributed to the design of the Javanese letter. How did Indonesians in turn deal with the linguists?
Our panel will investigate the publication, circulation, and translation of a distinct genre of seventeenth-century printed matter: Japanese martyr books. Following the mission efforts of European Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans, Japanese state authorities began to issue restrictions against preaching and baptisms, sometimes with violent means. Sensational accounts of the violence were printed in the Spanish Philippines at presses operated by the Dominicans and the Jesuits; the first paper in our panel will focus on the development of this genre and the role of the Manila press in its production. Soon afterwards, these "moving texts" made their way west through the means of travel, translation, and printing. And once in Europe, the Japanese martyr books were recruited for various purposes, including educational ones. The second paper on our panel will focus on this aspect of the Japan martyr books' history, attending to the English Jesuit college at Saint-Omer (in the Spanish Netherlands) and the ways its teacher-priests used the school's printing press to disseminate Japanese martyr chronicles. As will be clear, the English Jesuits recruited the Japan martyrs as exemplary figures for exiled English Catholics to imitate. Overall, our panel will shed light on this under-examined genre of printed material, situating it in its context of developing religious and colonial politics as well.
Blood and Propaganda: Martyrs in Japan and the Manila Press
Early book production in the Spanish Philippines was strongly linked to the proselytizing efforts of the friars: doctrines, grammars and vocabularies of indigenous languages, rules of the religious orders, devotionaries and hagiographies constituted the typical production of the printing presses, which were owned by the Dominicans from 1604 and by the Jesuits from 1636. Within these early books, all of them exceedingly rare, the accounts of martyrdoms in Japan, published between 1618 and 1641, stand out. This talk will deal exclusively with the development of this literary genre in the first half of 17th Century and the key role of the Manila press in the production and dissemination of narrative accounts that were widely read and translated in New Spain and Europe.
Japanese Martyr Chronicles on the 17th-Century English Jesuit Press
Although the Society of Jesus' presence in early modern Japan was predominantly Iberian, the English Jesuits nonetheless took great interest in written and printed accounts of martyrdom moving from East Asia into Europe. My paper examines three books translated by English Jesuits at St Omers College (in the Spanish Netherlands) and issued from the school’s successful printing press between 1619 and 1630. I will show how these "moving texts" recruited the Japan chronicles as a mirror for English Catholics, with particular attention to how their prefatory materials figure the Japanese as resolute, admirable models for exiled English Catholics to imitate. Overlooked in most analyses of early modern English dealings with Japan, these rare publications attest to a transcontinental interest in religious politics among Catholics enmeshed with emerging systems of colonialism. They also inform theatrical spectacles at the English College, some of which concerned Japanese martyrdom.
The practice of moving texts in their entirety or as fragments from one medium to the next has to do with the purposes that readers (humans and machines) put them to. Building on recent work for the reference book "Information: A Historical Companion" (Princeton UP, 2021), this roundtable asks how texts are put to work for different goals. We argue that medium-based practices are imbedded in social cultures and individual habits, and therefore help shape categories and traditions, what UNESCO calls “intangible cultural heritage”.
The discussants have studied the many ways of moving documents to storage places and of translating passages into other languages. They are familiar with changing technologies and developing professionalisms and office practices. They know and care about a variety of methods of indexing, bibliographing and excerpting, and about the way texts were used to forge and plagiarize, to encrypt and to digitize. They have analyzed the physical movement of print and manuscript books, and networks of readers and reader-writers.
The round table will discuss the following questions:
In Data Feminism, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein identify “Big Dick Data” as that which uses fantasies of domination to “ignore context, fetishize size, and inflate their technical and scientific capabilities.” Datasets can look and feel impenetrable, and working slowly through large datasets means the researcher has an incomplete body of knowledge that is always in progress. In this roundtable, we present on work with feminist book history projects that resist the totalizing impulse of “Big Dick Data” by, literally, creating penetrable pathways. The projects we highlight encourage a plurality of uses, touchpoints, and interpretations of what is significant about their data structures and the histories they explore.
The speakers are early career scholars who work in quantitative literary studies and manage large datasets—thousands of bibliographic records in relational databases—to find the stories that create narrative pathways for readers/users and ourselves. Kandice Sharren draws on her work as lead editor for the Women’s Print History Project to addresses strategies for leveraging the wide-ranging but fragmentary knowledge base that results from constructing a large corpus to craft public-facing narratives, including podcasts and blog posts, that make datasets hospitable for users. Kirstyn Leuner’s paper explores how collaborative editing and researching errors in Francis Stainforth’s nineteenth-century library catalog led to discovering how a printer’s reader changed Anne Poyntz’s authorial identity in library catalogs from the Victorian era to Worldcat. Kate Ozment’s paper details researching a women’s book collector club with 100+ members and thousands of items and weighs entry points—their lives, their books, or impact of their collections—based on competing ideologies about what makes women’s book collecting of interest for book historians. Together, the speakers demonstrate the power of data intimacy when working with large projects and how what Martha Nell Smith calls “human-touch software” can transform impenetrable walls into permeable pathways.
The notion of cultural translation is one way of understanding textual movability. Following recent trends in Translation Studies (e.g., Buden et al., 2009; Conway, 2013; Pratt et al., 2010), the two authors of this proposed panel expand on the notion of translation — commonly understood as the rewriting (or conversion) of a text from one language into another — by including the idea of transposition, i.e., the ways in which a text may be transferred from one place to another, and possibly re-shaped, through the use of copying, editing, and distribution technologies (analog or digital). This semantic adjustment allows the two presenters to articulate not only new forms of textuality, for cultural texts in particular, but also new understandings of place and space (physical reality and virtual reality) in terms of platforms or media for textual (re)transmission. The two papers propose to examine this revised notion of cultural translation in two contexts. The first context is the recent emergence of new media technologies in First Nations’ art practice: many aboriginal digital artists have repurposed and even designed digital technical tools to operate creative interventions in the Native heritage arena. The second context is the recent emergence of virtual reality (VR) technologies in cultural heritage institutions as a tool for copying, combining, and arranging cultural texts in virtual space, which will be explored through several case studies of recent and ongoing projects in libraries and archives.
Cultural Translation and Digital Indigenous Heritage
According to a widespread public narrative that circulates in the Western societies, Indigenous heritage occupies a vulnerable position within the Western cultural space, in spite of the efforts of on-going Native and non-Native activists, practitioners, and scholars to protect and promote it. Recently, as a result of the creative efforts of certain Indigenous artists and curators, many cultural objects involved in or potentially interesting for heritage practices have become for the first time visible in the emergent digital environments (e.g., as embedded in virtual exhibitions, video games, or machinima productions). This important development has opened up exciting possibilities for the renewal and creation of indigenous cultural texts, and ultimately for the rethinking of the nature of Native heritage. My project aims to contribute to a better understanding of this new context by articulating the cultural translation work that aboriginal artists perform in the digital environment with the heritage objects of their communities. To that purpose, the project examines digital works and direct statements (expressed in opinion pieces and scholarly publications) by the Native artists and scholars involved in the Montreal-based OBX Laboratory for Experimental Media (one of the most daring and complex Indigenous projects in the virtual domain). Using thematic analysis, the project discusses ways in which these artists and scholars not only translate/rewrite Native cultural texts for the mainstream audiences, but also transpose and, thus, reshape those cultural texts in a new environment; as such, they stake a claim for Native heritage in the new emerging digital domain and, more importantly, in the collective imaginaries of what a desirable and techno-scientific future for Native peoples could look like.
Virtual Reality as Space for Textual Transposition
Virtual reality (VR) technologies are constituted by interactive and immersive displays that surround a user’s visual field with three-dimensional digital media. VR engages multiple senses, enabling translations of cultural texts along spatial-temporal dimensions, foregrounding the role of the body in practices of translation. Scholars and cultural heritage institutions are currently experimenting with VR for a range of interpretive applications: From the restoration of cultural heritage sites destroyed by war or natural disaster, to the reconstruction of historical architecture based on surviving documents, images, and blueprints, to the analysis of the surfaces of medieval manuscripts through 3D imaging. In each of these cases, VR is shown to offer a space for transposing texts into new spatial configurations and relationships with each other, offering new contexts, or restoring past contexts of interpretation. VR has the capacity to recontextualize texts, by presenting them within spaces that immerse the reader in a text’s current or past contexts, be it an archive’s reading room, a medieval scriptorium, a church, or other sites of textual production, consumption, and preservation. Cultural knowledge, in a range of forms, including written texts, representations of places, performances, songs, rituals, and gestures, can be brought together and interpreted in a virtual space. VR thus enables the transposition of different textual formats and supports aural, visual, and haptic engagement. This paper analyzes a set of recent VR projects being carried out at academic libraries, digital humanities centers, and archives, as a first step in developing a taxonomy of textual transpositions being imagined for VR technologies, with a discussion of implications for theories of textuality.
This panel of two linked 20-minute papers will explore readers’ fears regarding the changes wrought by movement in texts. In many contexts, the influence of intermediaries is not just acceptable, but desirable: readers frequently welcome encounters with booksellers, reviewers, fellow readers, and other actors in the ‘fluid networks between authors and readers’, even when they may change reading experiences in ways not anticipated. But when the source of those changes is elusive, manipulative, or deceptive, movement of texts can be frightening and dangerous. These two papers, addressing perceptions and experiences of algorithms, digital platforms, and non-human authors, examine anxieties regarding change that is beyond our control, and what it means to readers when unique and valued aspects of reading - relationships with books, and literature's power to transport - are mediated in non-transparent ways.
Writing AI: Public (Mis)Perceptions of Algorithmic Authorship
In early 2019, artificial intelligence research company OpenAI made headlines with their decision not to release GPT-2. ‘New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators’, the title of one news article read; ‘New AI Development So Advanced It's Too Dangerous To Release, Says Scientists’, another title read. OpenAI had developed a text generator capable of producing syntactically, semantically, and stylistically impressive texts: texts so impressive that they could potentially lead to the proliferation of convincing computer-generated ‘fake news’. Eventually, though, GPT-2 was released, and 2020 even saw the release of the more-powerful GPT-3.
OpenAI’s choice not to release GPT-2 was likely motivated by the desire for publicity, but the discussions spurred highlight questions that are nevertheless worthy of consideration. Why was GPT-2 dangerous? What power does this system have? Whose power might this system by embodying? Could this system be deemed to have power of its own?
This paper applies a book history lens to a technology of the present and future: natural language generation (NLG). NLG refers to the process wherein computers generate texts in readable human languages. The paper begins with a brief introduction to NLG. It then uses OpenAI’s GPT systems to examine the social perceptions of the power of NLG, evaluating whether these perceptions align with actual computational capacity. The perceptions analysed are those expressed in news items, comments sections, and online fora. They are also analysed through consideration of OpenAI’s own public documentation, including that released alongside GPT releases. The paper concludes with a series of questions to drive future research in the area of algorithmic authorship.
The Power of Payment by the Page: reader and author perceptions of Amazon’s influence on what writers write and readers buy
This paper will examine Amazon as the most significant - and to authors and readers, sometimes fearsome - intermediary shaping e-books and e-reading. At the time of the Kindle launch in 2007, Amazon’s overwhelming dominance in the e-book market came from below-list-price sales of electronic editions of print bestsellers, and the star authors nurtured by traditional commercial publishers. While the $9.99 pledge that offered readers the latest John Grisham or Janet Evanovich at less than half of hardcover price did not survive industry opposition, Amazon no longer relies exclusively on traditional publishing for star author content. As it has developed its own stable of edited imprints such as 47North (science fiction) and Thomas & Mercer (crime), and more significantly its Kindle Direct Publishing self-publishing platform, Amazon has become the exclusive distributor for a vast body of digital-original novels, the most popular of which find wide readership and sit on ‘Kindle Top 10’ tables alongside traditional industry blockbusters. This paper will examine reader and author perceptions of how Amazon policies - for placement and publicity, but also for royalties and compensation, particularly though its intricate Kindle Unlimited model - incentivise authors to write and distribute their work in different ways, giving rise not only to new genres and styles but new creative collaborations and a new infrastructure of author services professionals that itself reshapes the publishing industry. Further, it will consider how authors with traditional publishers can - or can feel forced to - adapt to tastes and expectations of the fiction-reading public accustomed to Amazon innovations. It would harmonise with the conference strand on texts in other formats, specifically e-books, as well as the strand on readers and their access to texts.
Drawing on the 5-1-5 session format as inspiration, this panel brings together a group of five scholars who work on questions of Franco-American literary exchange in the interwar and postwar periods. Our aim is to foster a productive exchange among mid-career and senior scholars, with an eye to an eventual collective volume on the topic of women as cultural mediators who facilitated the publication and circulation of texts between France and the United States in the interwar and postwar years. The French-American literary conversation unfolded across the Atlantic thanks to publishers, translators, librarians, literary agents, some of them endorsing several roles, many of them women. In brief, 5-minute presentations, each panelist will draw on unknown, or lesser known, archival materials and present a specific node of this question. The second half of the panel will enable a productive dialogue across papers.
“Sylvia Beach's Rejections” (Joshua Kotin)
Sylvia Beach was a major mediator of culture in interwar Paris. She published Ulysses (1922) and kept the book in print through eleven printings. She connected English and French writers through Shakespeare and Company and her relationship with Adrienne Monnier. She supported countless writers and artists, emotionally and financially, from Ernest Hemingway to George Antheil to Eugene and Maria Jolas. But Beach also refused to be a mediator of culture, rejecting manuscripts, including D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. This paper discusses Beach's rejections, and the role of selection and rejection in the mediation of culture. A special focus will be Alan Campbell's still unpublished queer novel, Closing Doors, which Beach rejected in 1930.
“Brentano’s Books and Wartime Publishing” (Sara Kippur)
Founded in the mid-19th century mainly as a bookstore, Brentano’s Books distinguished itself during World War II as one of three New York-based publishing firms that published original books in French. Unlike its counterparts the Éditions de la Maison Française and Didier, though, Brentano’s published a remarkable number of works by unknown women writers, many of whom were American-born, had never before been published, and wrote in French as a second language. By attending to these largely unread writers (such as Florence Conrad, Tryphosa Bates-Batcheller, Margaret Hughes, and Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry), this paper considers how Brentano’s supported new voices in French, and how these women writers actively presented themselves as cultural mediators who were well-poised to bridge the political divides between France and the US.
“They paved the Atlantic with books”: The Bradleys and the Circulation of Texts (Laurence Cossu-Beaumont)
William and Jenny Bradley, founders of the first literary agency in France in 1923, acted as literary agents for André Gide, Jules Romains, André Malraux, Colette, Henry Miller, Theodore Dreiser, Claude McKay, Gertrude Stein and William Faulkner, among others. The agency’s papers located at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin offer a privileged access to an array of transatlantic negotiations and translations in the interwar years and after the Second World War. Jenny Bradley, now a widow, took over the agency at the Libération and continued to support the circulation of books by Sartre, Camus and Beauvoir and by Margaret Mitchell, Richard Wright and James Baldwin. This paper will shed light on two cultural mediators who have remained hidden behind the scenes.
“Trans-Atlantic Adjustments: The Circulation of Texts and the Agenting Profession (USA→ France, 1950s-1970s)” (Cécile Cottenet)
This talk will reflect on the difficulties of regulating the transatlantic negotiation of US texts in France between the 1950s and 1970s. Reports in the trade journal Publishers’ Weekly, and US agents’ attempts to standardize business practices with French publishers, as evidenced in the archives of the New York Society of Authors’ Representatives, attest to repeated misunderstandings about French publishers, as well as the necessity to rely on French (co)agents. Although French agents specializing in the handling of foreign rights had emerged on the scene as early as the 1920s, they remained largely unrecognized in their own country, and were sometimes regarded with wariness by their counterparts in the United States. I contend that the collaboration of US and French agents as transatlantic intermediaries in formalizing the circulation of rights between the 1950s and 1970s ultimately helped to shape the profession in France, as a new generation arose in the 1960s.
“More than a publisher: Blanche Knopf and Albert Camus” (Anne Quinney)
Anne Quinney will present a paper drawing from her current research project involving the correspondence between Franco-Algerian writer, Albert Camus, and his American editor and publisher, Blanche W. Knopf which began in the spring of 1945 and continued until his untimely death in 1960. Their correspondence reveals the evolution of a professional relationship into an exceptionally close friendship and provides convincing evidence that Blanche Knopf played a significantly larger role in shaping his career and promoting Camus’ reputation than has previously been recognized.
Some of the most exciting research in any field comes from its emerging scholars. In this plenary, we will hear from three PhD students, as well as the distinguished scholars who supervise them. The topics up for discussion are as diverse as the publishing of genre fiction by authors of colour, the categorisation of books on digital platforms like Instagram and Goodreads, and the development of new digital tools for libraries to host ‘online exhibitions’. All of the panellists are based in Australia, but their research has implications for book historians around the globe.
The Genre Worlds of Twenty-First Century Australian Popular Fiction
The Genre Worlds research project (led by Kim Wilkins, David Carter, Beth Driscoll and Lisa Fletcher) examined twenty-first century Australian crime, romance and fantasy fiction, analysing texts, collecting data and interviewing over 100 writers and industry professionals. A primary interest of the project is new forms of digital publishing and creative practice, an area addressed by Claire Parnell’s doctoral research.
Claire’s research investigates how authors of colour writing romance fiction use digital publishing platforms and how the platforms they use fit within broader systems of production, distribution and reception. It specifically focuses on self-publishing on Amazon and social storytelling on Wattpad, two of the largest publishing platforms as of 2021. Drawing on a similar ecology model to the Genre Worlds project, this research proposes that these platforms exist within an ‘Entertainment Ecosystem’, comprising the broader social media sphere as well as the book publishing and entertainment media industries and therefore analyses their ‘surrounding’ platforms, companies and spaces. It uses a mixed methods digital ethnographic approach, including interviews with authors, website analysis of interfaces and architecture, content analysis of reviews and comments, and a review of grey literature, to map the platforms’ socio-political, techno-cultural and economic aspects. Amazon and Wattpad operate as powerful intermediaries in publishing through their editorial, governance and organisational structures.
Beth, Claire’s supervisor, is a co-author of the forthcoming Genre Worlds monograph (University of Massachusetts Press, 2022). The book’s novel conceptual model proposes a ‘genre world’ as a collection of people and practices that operates according to patterns of collaborative activity, in order to produce the texts that make popular genres recognisable. Examination of the three connected dimensions of genre worlds—the social, the industrial and the textual—illuminates contemporary genre fiction’s relationship to digital technologies, its progressive and conservative tendencies, and its involvement in local and global fan cultures and communities.
New Tastemakers and Australia’s Post-Digital Literary Culture
The ‘New Tastemakers and Australia’s Post-Digital Literary Culture’ project (led by Mark Davis, Beth Driscoll, Sybil Nolan and Emmett Stinson) considers the impact of digital technologies on patterns of tastemaking and cultural mediation.
Kenna MacTavish’s doctoral research revolves around the question of how books are organised in the twenty-first century and examines post-digital bookworlds—worlds that are driven by networked readers across a platformised culture of books and reading. Kenna’s PhD thesis intersects with the ‘New Tastemakers and Australia’s Post-Digital Literary Culture’ project through its identification of interconnected systems of (digital and physical) book categorisation: word-based, image-based, and recommendation-based systems. Examining these three systems reveals the roles of emerging networked tastemakers in processes of categorisation on digital platforms like Instagram and Goodreads, as well as how these platforms creatively intertwine with non-digital architectures such as libraries and bookstores. Kenna’s theoretical framework argues that networked processes of book categorisation are attributed to a sociality of books and reading coded by technology.
Beth (Kenna’s primary PhD supervisor) shares Kenna’s research interests in social reading practices, tastemaking and genre, as well as in the application of creative, post-digital research methodologies. Like Kenna, Mark (Kenna’s co-supervisor) researches networked processes in book culture. His current research focuses on the impact of digital media on public and democratic processes, with a focus on the global book publishing industry and its transition from ‘print capitalism’ to ‘platform capitalism’. In their work on ‘New Tastemakers’, Beth, Mark and their colleagues examine how engagements with digital media and platforms such as ebooks, online forums, blogs and social media have changed the ways in which Australian literature is produced, distributed and consumed, and address the question of what this means for the future of Australian literature and Australia’s book industry in a globalised market for literature.
The Form of the Book in Digital Space: Liminality, Materiality and Meaning
The idea of visiting a physical exhibition is so familiar to us that it’s easy to forget there was a time this experience did not exist, just as there was a time the form of the book did not exist. The physical public exhibition as we know it today is the child of the nineteenth-century international exhibitions, though we can look back to at least the medieval period to find the roots of this desire to display and view beautiful and special books in a public setting, a desire that is at heart an affirmation of physical books’ affective power.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced cultural institutions around Australia and the world to close their doors to the public, often for the first time in their history. The year has seen an influx of ‘online exhibitions’ from galleries, museums and libraries, a term for which there remains some hostility within the cultural sector, as it is both under-theorised and broadly applied.
Also in 2020, a team of historians, curators and digital humanities specialists commenced a three-year collaborative project funded by the Australian Research Council entitled Transforming the Early Modern Archive: The John Emmerson Collection at State Library Victoria. Working remotely, the team is developing new digital tools designed to unlock the value of this unique collection for local and international audiences, including through an innovative born-digital exhibition to be launched at State Library Victoria (SLV) in 2023, the methodology for which is the focus of Julia Rodwell’s doctoral research, supervised by A/Prof. Mitchell Whitelaw (ANU), Prof. Rosalind Smith (ANU), and Dr Anna Welch (SLV).
The coincidence of the pandemic and the project’s digital focus has created the perfect opportunity to reflect on the hermeneutics of book exhibitions. To what extent does the artificial environment of the physical exhibitions reappear in virtual exhibitions? What happens to book materiality—and its affective emotional and cognitive impacts—in the digital space? What does this mean for our reading (literal and figurative) of books? Can digital liminality meaningfully accommodate material physicality?
The digitalisation of the book market has significantly transformed modes and conditions of reading. New technologies pave the way for mobile reading, and new forms of distribution, e.g. via streaming services, mean that readers may easily get access to texts in different media formats, no matter where they are situated. Thus, as discussed by e.g. Kuzmicova, Shilhab and Burke (2018) and Lutz Koepnick (2013), literary reading itself can be characterized as being “on the move.”
The proposed panel will investigate the influence of mobile technologies on modes of reading and textual production, focusing especially on the case of digital audiobooks. While the audiobook is an old medium, digitalization has recently led to an increase in the medium’s popularity. This development may, partly, be explained by the mobility of the digital audiobook. Through a smartphone and a couple of headphones, it becomes possible to consume literature while commuting, cleaning or exercising (Have & Stougaard Pedersen, 2016). The audiobook is often met with scepticism, as audiobook consumption is associated with distracted reading (Birkets 1994). However, as discussed by Have and Stougaard Pedersen (2016) and Lutz Koepnick (2019), the mobility of the digital audiobook also paves the way for new reading experiences, making it possible for the reader to read the text through the surroundings and vice versa.
The proposed panel discusses how mobile audiobook consumption consequently impacts the content and uses of literature. Panel presentation 1 discusses how the audio format affects the literary content of audiobooks, since producers such as the subscription services Storytel and Audible have begun to produce text that are specifically fit for mobile consumption: texts that literally move readers. Panel presentation 2 turns toward the empirical readers and presents an investigation of how the digital audiobook promotes new modes of reading and uses of literature.
(Im)mobile reading and moving texts: The case of Born-Audio Fiction
Sara Tanderup Linkis
Following recent years’ “audiobook boom”, so-called born-audio narratives have emerged: texts produced specifically for the audiobook format and, accordingly, intended for mobile audio consumption. Focusing on this category of works, the paper will examine how the audiobook draws attention to places and situations in which we read and how these places, accordingly, may influence the content and experience of literary works.
Drawing on theories by Michael Bull (2007), Lutz Koepnick (2013, 2019), Agnieszka Kozmicova and Michael Burke (2018) and Iben Have and Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen (2015), the paper investigates the concept of mobile reading. Mobile reading is usually associated with a distracted form of reading, since mobility allows for multi-tasking. However, recent theories on modern listening culture and literary resonance (Koepnick) allows me to question this concept and emphasize, instead, how mobility draws attention to reading’s spatial aspects. I investigate the case of Storytel Originals, born-audio texts produced by the Swedish subscription service Storytel. Focusing on selected examples of these texts, I first examine how the audiobook may promote a situated reading experience for a mobile listener. Thus, I analyze the connection between the series’ textual content and the presumed listening places. Hereafter, I move on to investigate what happens to the audiobook experience when the listener is not mobile: Cecilia Garme’s Storytel Original series Dagbok Från Corona Bubblan (2020) describes everyday life during the corona crisis in spring 2020, when Garme, and most listeners, would have to stay at home. Analyzing the diary’s reflections on the isolation at home, as well as the listeners’ response to this text, I examine how the audiobook produces an intimate listening space.
Thus, I examine how mobile technologies and formats, such as the audiobook, not only affect uses of literature, but also produce moving texts and texts that literally move readers.
Mobile reading equals mobile listeners? A study on Swedish audiobook-readers and their perceptions of the reading activity
The audiobook consumer is framed in the public debate as a “mobile” reader who consumes audiobooks while doing other everyday activities such as commuting, exercising and/or cleaning. (c.f. Pennlert, 2019, Have & Stougaard Pedersen 2016). Recent quantitative studies of audiobook consumption have stressed the idea of audiobook consumption as a mobile everyday activity, comparing audiobooks to other media formats, focusing on the aspect of time: when consumption takes place (c.f. Tattersall Wallin, Nolin, 2019). These recent quantitative studies reflect how new digital formats, i.e. subscription services for audiobooks, generate a new kind of quantitative material which make it possible to trace and examine patterns among a large number of readers.
The proposed paper will supplement these quantitative studies with a qualitative approach to mobile reading and readers. Thus, I will be tracing patterns in how empirical audiobook readers situate themselves and their audiobook consumption. The research questions that I want to explore can be formulated as follows: To what extent can audiobook reading be associated with reading “on the move”? What patterns, especially regarding the place of reading can be found in how the audiobook as a literary format is used by its reader?
In the panel discussion I will focus on the result of a conducted digital survey-study published in the Swedish Facebook-group “Snacka om ljudböcker” (“Talk about Audiobooks.”) The group consists of around 19.000 members, and hosted by the subscription service, Storytel. By turning towards empirical readers and how the audiobook format, in their own experiences, affect how and when they read, it is possible for me to investigate and further analyze the extent to which audiobook consumption can be seen as a mobile reading practice.
‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ is a collaborative research and digitization project between the British Library in the UK, and the School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University (Kolkata) and Srishti Institute of Art, Technology and Design (Bangalore) in India. The project is a rich and vast repository of 1800 rare printed books in Bengali, Assamese and Sylheti, which are readily available online for users across the world to refer to and to download for free. In the past 5 years of this ongoing project, its key strands of research, cataloguing and digital humanities have been successful in underlining how and why colonial archives need to be decolonized, and can follow routes of repatriating texts to their South Asian roots. In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing restrictions to archival access, this project has been vital in expanding the access of this collection, especially to the users in the Global South for whom economic factors and strict visa regimes hinder travel and access to the archives in the West e.g., the British Library.
In this panel, the curators of the project, Priyanka Basu (research) and Tom Derrick (Digital Humanities) will speak about the practice/politics of colonial legal deposits and the movement of physical texts to digital modes using new technologies such as, Optical Character Recognition (OCR). In keeping with the theme of ‘Moving Texts: From Discovery to Delivery’, this panel will discuss the roles that archival research and digitization play as an intermediary between the physical book and a digital readership. It will show how as sustainability, access, funding and conservation continue to affect the libraries and archives of South Asia, collaborative digitization projects help foster the exchange of ideas and building of research networks, thus bringing ‘hidden’ texts in colonial archives to visibility and dialogue.
Decolonizing the Archive: ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ and the Colonial Legal Deposits
This paper focuses on the research and digitization project called ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ (1714-1914) at the British Library. Around 1800 Bengali (including some Assamese and Sylheti) early printed texts are now digitized and published online under this project. The collection includes a vast number of tracts on religion, pedagogy, missionary ideas, women’s writings, performance texts and translations. A closer look at this collection allows one to understand the history of the birth of print in the eastern Indian region (mainly Calcutta) and to what directions it proliferated, thus underlining the issues of production, movement, reception, readership and even proscription. Moreover, the collection exists as a trace of what remained from the practice of legal deposits to the India Office during the colonial period. In light of the recent discussions and developments around the need to decolonize archives, curricula and institutional practices, the research and digitization of the collection, under ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ certainly underlines how digitization, research and access can follow routes of repatriating texts to their South Asian roots. In what ways do a research-digitization process open up new ways of receiving and researching such a collection? What role does a research curator play in handling such a collection? This paper will take into account such questions in discussing the journey of the project for the past 5 years. It will discuss how the project contributes to the larger disciplines of digital humanities, book history and the politics of archives in general. In doing so, it will correspond to several areas of inquiry in the SHARP 2021 conference including, ‘readers and their access to texts’, ‘open access and its challenges and opportunities’, ‘global textual politics, such as colonialism and post-colonialism’ among others.
Digital Pathways: Improving Access to South Asian Books through Digitization and Digital Research
As gatekeepers of books, libraries and archives are increasingly focusing on digitization as a means to not only preserve but also widen access to a wealth of knowledge.
This transformation from physical to digital enables use of the latest technologies to create new modes of readership and interaction with texts.
Two Centuries of Indian Print, led by the British Library, is one such project, which digitized rare and unique early Indian printed books held within the Library’s collections between 2016 and 2019. Through this initiative, digital editions of more than 1,800 books have been made freely available online. Creative applications of the books in the digital space include a data visualization mapping the activity and location of book printers in 19th century Kolkata, serving as a pathway into the digital editions, and providing a digital narrative of the books, from place of production through to the online rendition.
A key area of focus for the project has been the development of optical character recognition (OCR) to generate machine-readable text for Bangla. OCR of South Asian languages has been historically underserved, yet collaborations between the project team and external experts have been improving access to and scholarship of these books through enhanced keyword search and provision of textual datasets that can be analyzed at scale.
Throughout, this paper will seek to expand on the role digitization plays as an intermediary between the physical book and a digital readership, discussing the application of the digital methods employed by the project and the impact they have had on access and use of the books.
As of December 2020, Gale retired the original interface to Eighteenth Century Collections Online. In commemoration of this moment, this panel will be an opportunity to reflect upon and explore the history and future of ECCO. It will seek to address such questions as what can a fuller history of this collection add to our understanding of metadata and old books in ECCO? How do its platforms represent the bibliographical record of the eighteenth century?
ECCO is a complex and mobile network of relations between bibliographical metadata, digital files, and interface applications – all of which that shape how the reader understands books and print culture. However, this network is also determined by the history of ECCO’s creation: far from a static artefact, this panel will focus on particular aspects of its history, tracing its shifting priorities, technical processes, and our apprehension of eighteenth-century print.
‘A data-driven comparison between ESTC and ECCO’
Mikko Tolonen and Leo Lahti
This paper compares Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) and English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). It reveals that there are more gaps in ECCO than has assumed. The presentation focuses on publication types, location information and the question of new editions and reprints in ECCO. The paper will show that there is a temporal drop in the data after the 1770s that coincides with a decline in pamphlet coverage. One of the main findings is that especially the US based publications are underrepresented in ECCO. Also, the number of duplicates in ECCO is higher than has previously been anticipated. There are also biases in ECCO coverage between the most popular authors with respect to gender, country of origin, editions, works, books and pamphlets. The comparison has been conducted at Helsinki Computational History Group and authored by Mikko Tolonen, Eetu Mäkelä and Leo Lahti.
‘Dirt in the type: bookish materiality in ECCO’
Stephen H. Gregg (Bath Spa University)
This study analyses the remediation life of the source copy for ECCO’s digitisation of Daniel Defoe’s An Essay on the Regulation of the Press. Drawing on bibliographical and digital media methodologies, it reveals the entangled processes to which this book-copy has been subject as codex, metadata, microfilm, online text, encoded edition, and images on a screen. A focus on processes necessarily reveals some obscure aspects of ECCO’s history and its place in a network of various partnerships and licensing deals. This essay goes beyond standard narratives of loss and inauthenticity in order to trace the stubborn persistence of a ‘bookish’ materiality in its life-cycles.
“One must be an inventor to read well . . . There is then creative reading as well as creative writing” (Emerson, "The American Scholar").
The past decade has witnessed a surge of scholarly interest in the porous boundaries between reading, editing, and writing. As a number of recent histories have demonstrated—including Ellen Gruber Garvey’s Writing With Scissors (2012), Tom Mole’s What the Victorians Made of Romanticism (2017), and Whitney Trettien’s forthcoming Cut/Copy/Paste: Fragments of History—editorial activities are dynamic, taking shape through interactions between people, books, and institutions. Texts are propelled across time and space through reframing, repackaging, and reusing, acts that rely as much on reading (and on anticipating or imagining reading experience) as they do on writing. Publishers, printers, editors or proto-editors all participate, with their readerly labour seemingly growing more specialized as the publishing industry expands. Wider readerships, furthermore, continue to be involved in the making of books and the framing of texts.
This roundtable will examine such forms of “creative reading” against a variety of historical and professional backdrops. Drawing on speakers with expertise in multiple periods and disciplines—from the 16th to the 20th centuries, across literary criticism, book history, library science, and editorial studies—we will bring different eras and practices of creative reading into conversation with each other. Studies of what we are calling creative reading, including our own work, tend to focus solely on discrete archives and isolated periods in the history of print production. Together we will trace how these modes of reading have changed over time alongside other transformations in the histories of authorship, reception, and publishing. How do creative readers set texts in motion, generating spaces both for their consumption and their circulation?
Studies of literacy and reading in the digital age have focused almost exclusively so far on wealthy European or North American readers. They also frequently perpetuate binary oppositions between the digital and print based on crude comparisons. Notable exceptions are the work of Wendy Griswold on reading cultures in West Africa (2006) and Sarah Brouilette’s (2020) recent study of emerging forms of reading in which she argues for the need to include greater discussion of demotic reading (and writing) cultures as evidenced in the sharing of digital content often outside of legitimate channels.
This panel will consider two recent projects that brought together African scholars and stakeholders with academics from the UK and North America to examine the social impacts of reading in African nations (Nigeria and Kenya) and the roles of intermediaries (educators and librarians) in helping to deliver and implement literacy and reading programmes, particularly using digital resources.
The panel will reflect on the challenges of working cross-culturally especially in the context of a global pandemic. Both of the projects developed from a commitment to work with readers from underserved communities, involving them through a combination of participatory methods and co-design. Both projects also start from the premise that discussion of reading cultures must centre on the experiences of readers from developing nations and recognise that there is much to be learned from the innovative initiatives already changing and improving lives in these contexts. We argue that just as it is important to ensure we maximise accessibility and inclusivity by working with local languages and cultural practices, so too we must avoid the assumption that simply importing existing programmes or technological solutions will bring workable and sustainable benefits.
Panel format: two co-presented papers with a moderated Q&A following, encouraging comment and discussion from the audience.
Brouillette, S. (2020) Underdevelopment and African Literature: Emerging Forms of Reading. Cambridge University Press.
Griswold, W., E.M McDonnell and T.E. McDonell. (2006) Glamour and Honor: Going Online and Reading in West African Culture. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Information Technologies and International Development. Vol. 3. No. 4. 37-52.
Digital reading and inclusivity: the role of libraries in Kenya
Joseph M Kavulya and Bronwen Thomas
The library system in Kenya is complex, ranging from the recently opened flagship Maktaba Kuu in Nairobi, to pop up libraries in shipping containers serving disabled youngsters in rural communities. In many of these contexts, libraries play a vital role not just in providing access to books and information, but in supporting local communities and supplying daily necessities including food and sanitary protection. Libraries and librarians also play a key role in promoting information literacy, providing basic training in using tablets and readers, but also engaging users in co-design projects combining traditional oral storytelling skills with the latest technologies.
The DRIVE network, a collaboration between UK and Kenyan universities funded by the UK government under its Global Challenges scheme, examines how far digital reading is able to facilitate accessibility and inclusivity for developing nations, especially with regards to women readers and people living with disabilities. The network includes a number of librarians working across different sectors, as well as stakeholders and end users from a wide cross section of Kenyan society including rural settings and informal settlements.
Our paper will report on the work of the network so far, including examining the impact of COVID on library services and the extent to which current services are able to meet the needs of women readers and people with disabilities. We will also outline how the network uses storytelling methods to engage and work with readers to better understand how far digital technologies can meet their specific needs and help develop reading practices and cultures that are sustainable and equitable.
Supporting Literacy in Northeast Nigeria
Marianne Martens, Ph.D. [presenter], Grace Malgwi, Ph.D. [presenter], Gretchen Caldwell Rinnert, MGD, Kathleen Campana, Ph.D., Joanne Caniglia, Ph.D., Davison Mupinga, Ph.D.
Nigeria is internationally-known for its cultural exports, from musicians like Fela Kuti and Burna Boy, to writers like Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. As the most populous and fastest-growing country in Africa, Nigeria is both oil rich and notorious for corruption. According to (2018) World Bank Data, across Nigeria, 71% of men over 15 are literate, and 53% of women, and these rates are significantly lower in the rural Northeast. Since its founding in 1914, Nigerians have suffered colonialism, dictators, internal wars, and conflicts. Since 2010, the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast has damaged or destroyed many schools. Families are reluctant to send children, especially girls, to school because: it is dangerous; children are needed at home; many girls enter arranged marriages at a young age; or families simply do not want girls to be educated. This paper covers a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant between the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, and Kent State University, tasked with improving literacy in the Northeast. The combined team collaborated with local and state partners on the ground, including AUN colleagues, community and religious leaders, and educators, to co-develop literacy learning materials. Interrupted by the pandemic, the team created preliminary textbooks, an activity book for teachers to engage pupils using found objects (stones, bottle caps, etc.), and teacher training videos that can be viewed via smartphone, and shared via WhatsApp. Most interesting perhaps was the opportunity to create “resource centers,” which could serve as basic community libraries, helping to foster an interest in reading. This paper will reflect on challenges and opportunities in increasing literacy in a challenging area, as encountered by the team.
The World Bank. (2018). Literacy rate. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.MA.ZS?locations=NG&view=map
It’s a fundamental tenet of textual studies that when a text moves, it changes. Randall MacLeod’s term for it is transformission — how a text is transformed as it is transmitted. We might think of typography as being especially prone to transformission: copy and paste this text into Word and it’s likely you’ll see it in a different typeface. The text’s appearance is, usually, considered merely cosmetic — dressing added to the substance of the text itself. Occasionally, however, a typographer will resist such transformission. The native media of a text’s source can be evoked through the attentive use of typography: a manuscript text represented in print with a calligraphic typeface, for instance, or a typewritten document reproduced with a monospaced font. By resisting typographic transformission, these examples bring the reader to the text, rather than bringing the text to the reader. Our panel investigates this practice, and the consequences that the visual citation of another medium can have for the reading of a text. In its broad span of time period and location, it identifies common practices between sixteenth-, nineteenth-, and 21st-century texts, finding a common thread in the manifestation of authority through typography.
‘The subtile deuise of the Workmen of those dayes’: The typographic depiction of stone inscriptions in sixteenth-century English print
English books of the sixteenth century have sometimes been denied any sophistication by modern scholars, Britain being invariably described as a ‘backwater’ or ‘the outer ring of a two speed Europe’ when it comes to typography. Britain’s ubiquitous blackletter idiom, lagging behind the roman type of the continent, perhaps justifies these epithets, but within this flat landscape moments of typographic ingenuity may be found. One such practice is the evocation of inscriptional lettering with upper case roman. This presentation will show how printers and authors collaborated to evoke alternate materials through typography, inviting their readers to suspend their disbelief in the medium held in their hands. Applying the modern concept of skeuomorphism to early modern books, it will theorize how absent materials may be evoked through careful design. Following Gerard Genette’s model of the paratext to its logical next step, these texts will be thought of as ‘endotexts’ — texts within texts. With the mechanics of the endotext explored, this presentation will address the consequences that the practice had for meaning: these ‘stone’ endotexts carried with them the attendant connotations of that material, among them durability and expense, and therefore authority and prestige. These connotations augmented both fictional and non-fictional works, including examples from the poetry of John Skelton and the Arthurian histories of the antiquarian John Leland. The technique allows both writers to recuperate an otherwise lost past, but also to provide immediacy and intimacy with absent texts by their typographic illustration.
Documenting the Documents of Migration and Detention in U.S. Latinx Literature
“Good typography is part of good lawyering,” Matthew Butterick argues in his book, Typography for Lawyers. To those who raise an uncertain eyebrow, he insists, “Typography matters. The only question is whether you—as a writer and as a lawyer— are going to neglect it.” Of course he’s right. Think of legal documents and the mind suddenly shifts into Courier New or Times New Roman, the formality and the gravity of such a typeface etched into our minds. Typography serves the story, in this case a story of certitude, of justice, of seriousness. Contemporary literary texts that concern themselves with the documents of the U.S. immigration system often register this formality and gravity as well, acknowledging what readers have long expected from not only the content but also the shape, the size, the weight of the print that so often governs bodies and their movements. Deeds to land threatened by 19th-century westward expansion. U.S. Naturalization forms. Witness testimony. Asylum forms. Approvals of H-1B visas. Court pleadings, heavily redacted. Contemporary U.S. Latinx literature in particular often embeds these and other documents in their narratives, asking that readers recognize both the symbolic and material impacts of the double-voiced narratives generated by the presence of documents that govern access to (or detention in) the land of the free. Drawing on the work of a range of Latinx writers, this presentation offers readings of these attempts to represent legal documents within contemporary literary narratives, arguing that such embedded texts highlight a material preoccupation with legal, institutional narratives of migration and citizenship as they intersect with the personal, individual narratives of credibility and belonging. These intersecting narratives are registered in the material practices of legal documentation, underscoring the extent to which every Latinx history – personal or communal – is necessarily a counter-history.
Research Lab Abstract
This SHARP research lab on copyright history (one of two being proposed on this broader subject) brings together scholars from the disciplines of history, literature, and law at different stages of career to discuss their works-in-progress. This lab focuses on the United States and the German lands during the nineteenth century, with papers exploring such topics as the relationship between authorship, citizenship, and race; the practices of editors and publishers in relation to evolving norms of “plagiarism” and “piracy”; and the struggle to protect photographs as works of authorship. In keeping with the SHARP research lab format, authors will not deliver their papers orally. Instead, the papers will be available to registered conference participants in advance of the meeting, and the co-chairs will moderate a detailed discussion of each of the papers. Audience members who have read the papers will also be invited to provide feedback for the authors and/or discuss the broader themes and methodological questions they raise.
‘The right whereof he claims as Author’: Peter Williams, Black Citizenship, and Claiming the Right to Copy
On the one year anniversary of the end of the international slave trade in the United States, Peter Williams gave a powerful speech to the “fathers, breathern, and fellow citizens” at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in New York City. Williams, the son of a Black revolutionary war veteran, and a highly educated minister, was convinced by colleagues in the anti-slavery movement that a “usefulness will arise from its publication” and so prepared An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade for the press. However, before Williams submitted his pamphlet to printer Samuel Wood in the winter of 1808, he took two significant steps. In the first, he deposited the cover with Edward Dunscomb, the district court clerk for the state, and fulfilled the steps to receive a copyright. In the second, anticipating an attack on that very right, Williams “thought proper to authenticate the fact” that An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade was indeed his own literary labor. “HAVING understood, that some persons doubt my being the author of this Oration,” Williams wrote in an addendum, he included a series of “certificates” confirming his authorship.
This essay looks at Williams’ multilayered use of copyright in three ways. First, this essay will look at William’s use of copyright as a means of reinforcing both his self-autonomy and claiming one of several clustered rights of citizenship. Second, this essay will consider how Williams’ views on knowledge and “encouragement of learning” as an anti-slavery platform did (and did not) intersect with discourses surrounding copyright consciousness, law, and practice. Third, this essay will put William’s use of literary authority in conversation with other Black copyright experiences, from the efforts of Phillis Wheatley in the 1770s to that of Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and Benjamin Banneker in the 1790s.
From Plagiarism to Pirated Editions: How a Newcomer Finds His Place in the German Publishing Landscape of the 1820s and 1830s
Book historians know about the rise of reprint series, so called libraries, with various literary texts or excerpts in the 19th century. These miniature collected editions containing hundred or even more volumes were a sign of a technological and economical revolution and of significant changes regarding distribution and reading practices. The increasing literacy opened up new markets that were predominantly served by colporteurs. Considering these shifting practices in production and distribution, this paper focusses on the German publisher Joseph Meyer, who founded the “Bibliographisches Institut” (bibliographical institution) based on British publishing models. Much to the annoyance of the established publishers, the success of this company is based on cheap pirated editions in weekly instalments such as the “Miniatur-Bibliothek der Deutschen Klassiker” (miniature library of German classics 1827-1834, 187 volumes). Meyer’s speculative book trade took advantage of the lack of national or even super-territorial copyright laws in early 19th century: This was a situation characterized by fragmented and dynamically changing legal provisions, as German territories implemented copyright laws only over a period of some decades and only within individual state borders.
Lesser known, however, is the fact, that Meyer’s first publishing project was the “British Chronicle” (1827-1831), the first anglophone periodical in Germany. This periodical was completely based on scissors and paste journalism (copyright laws, if they existed at all, didn’t cover foreign works), and, what is more, on plagiarism. The aim of the paper is to show, that although his publishing practices brought him constantly in trouble with established publishers, authors, and courts, Meyer can be called the one, who established trandsetting ways of moving texts between different media formats in terms of reprints and piracy, and who established new ways of moving books in terms of serialisation, subscription, and colportage.
Presidential Portraits for a New Dawn: Capturing Copyright in 19th Century America
The subject matter of works protected by US copyright law was contingent on expansive understandings of authorship instilled during the long nineteenth century through a constitutional rhetoric of property rights in writings. The author of texts was recast as the author of the paintings, sculptures, and photographs. Through a critical historiography, this paper draws attention to the discursive practices that enabled the liberal construction of authorship from text to the technologically captured image, focusing on the signature of the renowned American Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady.
Abraham Lincoln attributed his 1860 presidential election victory to both his famous Cooper Union address, and Mathew Brady’s portrait of Lincoln publicizing the speech. Though a succession of US presidents were personally photographed by Brady, he is now known chiefly for his photojournalism documenting the Civil War. Brady rarely, if ever, took these war photographs himself, yet all were prominently inscribed with his signature, claiming copyright before photographs were legally protected. This paper explores how the authorial signature functioned as a legitimizing textual sign, denoting at once civil identity, provenance, and authenticity, whilst existing as an inauthentic representation of the author, a written object signifying authorship over a purely pictorial entity. The constitutionally secured exclusive rights over writings for authors was extended by Lincoln to the ‘photographic author’ in March 1865, transfiguring Brady’s photographs from technical images to private textual property.
Research Lab Abstract
This panel - presented in the Research Lab format - explores the methods used, and offers case study findings from, two bibliometric digital projects, both of which are focused on the enlightenment period: the MEDIATE project, based at Radboud University; and ‘Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic’, based at the University of Liverpool.
Book collections and, in the case of shared and community libraries, borrowing patterns reflect the tastes and identities of book collectors and readers. Focusing respectively on the borrowing records of subscription libraries within the eighteenth-century Atlantic and on private library book auction catalogues from the Dutch Republic (MEDIATE), these sources allow us to study the circulation of books (and hence, ideas) in the eighteenth-century on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Forming three case studies generating from research undertaken on the above-mentioned projects, this session will explore potential uses of library records for better understanding readership and for interrogating existing understandings of enlightenment-era book culture.
The ERC-funded digital humanities MEDIATE project (Measuring Enlightenment: Disseminating Ideas, Authors, and Texts in Europe, 1665-1830) seeks to study the circulation of books and ideas in eighteenth-century Europe by drawing on a unique database of 2000 eighteenth-century private library auction catalogues.
The AHRC-funded project, ‘Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic’, investigates the contribution made by books to social, cultural and political change in the eighteenth century. Its primary aim is to collect and make available in a single open access database the largest collection of contextualised bibliometric data on eighteenth-century library holdings, membership and usage in the British Isles and North America ever assembled.
Book sales catalogues in the late eighteenth Dutch Republic: a bibliometric approach to book ownership in Zeeland
Dutch eighteenth century private book inventories, collected in the ERC-funded MEDIATE project database, are an important and rich source to study book ownership and readership. By creating typologies of readers based on their libraries, we can provide insight which patterns occur in the ownership based on different groups, classes, and regions. The taste of readers reflects their identity. By using a bibliometric approach, which draws from a large corpus of sales catalogues of private libraries published between 1665 and 1830, we can study libraries and readership in the long eighteenth century Dutch Republic on a large scale.
This paper aims to provide a typology of readers in the Dutch province Zeeland based on printed book sales catalogues in the late eighteenth century. Focusing on the book collections of magistrates in Zeeland in the 1780s questions can be answered such as: which titles are mentioned more often than others, what are the differences and similarities in the collections of different library owners, and how do these collections differ from subscription libraries in Zeeland? Although research been conducted in this field of readership and book purchases (Kloek and Mijnhardt 1986; 1987; Neele 2011), the MEDIATE database allows for a large-scale comparative study. The metadata provide information about the catalogues, collectors and auctions, which can give insight in book collecting and readership in Zeeland.
“In Defense of their Privileges”: Social Libraries and the Formation of Political Loyalties during the American Revolution
Sophie H. Jones
Social (or, subscription) libraries have long been cited by scholars including Peter Borsay (1977) as an indicator of urban development in English – and, more recently, European (2018) – towns. However, the subscription library of the eighteenth-century Atlantic was an American, rather than an English, innovation. It originated with the Library Company of Philadelphia, co-founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731. While the founders of early American social libraries stressed their shared hopes that such institutions would be “useful”, libraries were not solely concerned with education and the acquisition of knowledge: they became venues of polite sociability, but also influenced the development of civic society within the communities that they served. In New York, for instance, the founding members of the exclusive ‘Society Library’ would later establish key social, political and civic institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce, Manumission Society, and the Society for Promotion of Arts, Agriculture and Economy.
This paper explores the role that social libraries played in the formation of political loyalties during the American Revolution. Through a close reading and sustained analysis of library membership records, catalogues, and committee-minutes, it reveals that both loyalists and revolutionaries can be found amongst the members of social libraries in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. In doing so, it questions the validity of Franklin’s later assertion that social libraries “made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries”, ultimately contributing “in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges”. More broadly, this paper highlights the ways in which bibliographic sources (in particular those captured by the AHRC-funded project Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic) can directly support broader research questions concerning power, identity-construction and community building within the eighteenth-century Atlantic.
Reading Politics in Eighteenth-Century Subscription Libraries
This paper will investigate the relationship between the ‘public sphere’ and politics in the late eighteenth century by considering subscription libraries. Subscription libraries are often viewed as part of civil society as separate from the political world. Yet, eighteenth-century subscription libraries usually had a large proportion of political office holders, both at the local and national level, among their prominent members. They could frequently be found in leading positions on the committees. This paper will explore the political dimension of English eighteenth-century libraries in particular, including the Bristol Library Society, the Norwich Public Library and the Manchester Circulating Library. Using the ‘Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic’ database, which I have co-created as part of the Liverpool project, this paper will focus on the political holdings at these libraries. Since politics was rarely a distinct category in eighteenth-century subject designations, this means identifying books in categories such as history, jurisprudence, philosophy, along with pamphlets. This paper will offer a comparable perspective by analysing the catalogues of over ten English libraries. Finally, looking at the extensive surviving borrowing records from Bristol and smaller libraries such as Lewes, this paper will investigate the frequency of political borrowings and the identity and background of the borrowers.
This roundtable draws from case studies cross-examining how ordinary as well as expert readers engage in written material. It discusses the application of digital humanities such as annotation, text mining, citation analysis to the understanding of readers access and response to texts across time and space.
After a short introduction to their case-studies and the research issues raised, the 5 scholars including a moderator, all involved in both collaborative as well as individual research on historical and multilingual sources about reading, will discuss the DH methods used to explore such data as multimodal sources ranging from 19th C. manuscript letters of French readers of philosophy, 20th C. scholarly citation data in print, and 21st C. online Goodreads reading of popular fiction.
The roundtable will focus on comparing a traditional “hand and eye” and a computer-assisted approach of hardly decipherable manuscripts; using information from a citation database to analyze expert readers response ; resorting to up-to-date computational methods to examine how reading experiences are voiced in online reviews.
Practical topics might include: When using citation analysis to gauge reader reception of nonfiction, how is it useful to begin with visualizations generated in Google's n-gram viewer and in Web of Science? What advantages are there, if any, to a method that combines the use of automatically generated visualizations with the researcher's manual checking of citations for verification and context? At what scale does it become necessary to abandon manual methods of analysis and to instead use text mining or other algorithm-driven methods? What is the balance when combining advanced text mining and close-reading activities?
While advantages and setbacks of automated methods remain issues for debate, it showcases recent work in various aspects of the History of the reading before a global forum of fellow book historians. It will also underline how digitally-assisted ways of reading texts have brought the relationship between book and reader under new scrutiny.
This panel includes two papers that focus on twentieth-century poet Gwendolyn Brooks’s publishing activities, ultimately leading to a reconsideration of how the materiality of her books framed her text and targeted her audiences. Brooks is celebrated as the first Black author to win a Pulitzer Prize. This panel examines Brooks’s authorial agency as she broke from national and regional houses to become a self-publisher invested in the design and production of her books. Kinohi Nishikawa’s paper views Brooks’s oeuvre not through its literary history but through its publication history, finding that Brooks’s publishing decisions reflected her dedication to Black Chicagoan readers. Amanda Lastoria extends Nishikawa’s engagement with the publishing industry. Lastoria’s paper sets Brooks’s books against the backdrop of commercial norms of the day and artistic precedents in order to understand the extent to which the design of Brooks’s books were innovative and/or derivative. Together Nishikawa and Lastoria unpack why Brooks’s books were successful in their own right as well as the long-lasting impacts her books had within and beyond her community in South Side Chicago.
From Poet to Publisher: Reading Gwendolyn Brooks by Design
This paper examines the publication history of Gwendolyn Brooks’s poetry, spanning her oeuvre from A Street in Bronzeville (1945) to Children Coming Home (1991). Literary historians have split Brooks’s career into two halves: the first defined by a civil rights integrationist aesthetic; the second, after 1967, by a more radical nationalist aesthetic. Yet a closer look at Brooks’s involvement in the production and design of her books reveals not so much an abrupt break in her art as a longstanding commitment to black readers, especially those in her South Side Chicago community. By revisiting this body of work through the lens of design, the paper offers a model of rethinking literary history through textual transmission.
Rejecting Commercial Publishing and Radicalizing Generic Design: How Poet Gwendolyn Brooks Spoke to Black Readers
This paper builds on Kinohi Nishikawa’s groundbreaking work on the career of poet-turned-publisher Gwendolyn Brooks. Nishikawa discusses how, from the mid- to late twentieth century, Brooks deliberately transitioned from publishing her books with a national house to publishing with a regional house before becoming a self-publisher. Such career progression is atypical; it would commonly be regarded by the industry as career regression. Brooks started big and finished small – in relative terms of scale – yet she actively chose this path. What did self-publishing offer Brooks that publishing with a large commercial house did not?
What Brooks lost in market reach, she gained in authenticity. Self-publishing afforded Brooks a more direct connection with her target audience. Brooks was a Black woman raised in Chicago and, as Nishikawa argues, her choice to self-publish demonstrated her commitment to her roots – to fellow Black Chicagoan readers. As a self-publisher Brooks was able to more fully participate in the making of her books. She spoke to her audience not only with her texts but with her books. When the materiality of Brooks’s publications was no longer mediated by a large commercial house, she was able to collaborate with artists, designers and printers that she wanted in order to speak to the audience that she wanted.
The unusual arc of Brooks’s career – from publishing with Harper to self-publishing – is materially represented by her books. To what extent did Brooks’s books conform to and/or deviate from generic designs that were established and maintained by dominant houses of the day? That is, did Brooks’s poetry books look and feel like contemporary (Black) poetry books ‘should’, or did they look and feel how Brooks wanted? Poetry books have a long publishing history as a materially innovative genre. How did the design of Brooks’s poetry books leverage that history, balancing industry norms with artistic expression and civil rights activism?
Dr. Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, SHARP's Director of Awards, will moderate this panel.
This roundtable brings together book historians, art historians, and legal scholars for an interdisciplinary conversation on the field of copyright history. Much work in this field has focused on printed texts, but recently the history of copyright for works of visual art has received more attention from art historians and legal scholars. Drawing on their own research and familiarity with the wider scholarship, speakers will discuss different approaches to the study of copyright law in relation to the practices of authors, printers, publishers, visual artists, art collectors, and others. With expertise on the early modern period (particularly France and England) as well as the nineteenth century (especially the United States and the United Kingdom), the speakers will reflect on the different ways scholars working in law, book history, and art history have approached this field, and the extent to which they can learn from each other.
This panel brings together two sets of texts which are distinctly different in terms of publication date and place, language, format, and genre. The first set includes two early seventeenth century broadsides in Italian and French, published in Europe. The other set consists of hundreds of Hebrew pulp Westerns serialized in Israel of the 1950s and 1960s. Seemingly having little in common except for portraying certain aspects of an imagined America, both these corpora —presented as authentic translations from Spanish and American English, respectively—have no known source texts.
The panelists will discuss different functions that these pseudotranslations may have fulfilled in popular imagination at the time of their publication and the reading culture for which they were intended for. They will also explore the ways in which the overseas setting allowed for an easier suspension of disbelief, a key element in the creation of narratives likely to engage the reader’s experiences and expectations. In addition, they will explore the artifices that the pseudotranslators used to frame their works as authentic.
One of the great legacies of 19th-century women writers are the thousand of texts created for the amusement and instruction of young readers. There is little question that important ideas about science reached both male and female children through the pens of writers such as Maria Edgeworth, Mary Pilkington, Mary Roberts, Jane Loudon, and Arabella Buckley. Among the most renowned of these women are Maria Hack, who popularized William Paley, and Jane Marcet, whose “Conversation” books could be found on the shelves of every “refined” home library and school. The influence of these women is beyond doubt, but their legacy remains a mystery given the absence of journals, correspondence, and manuscripts. Our objective is to explore the meaning of these lacunae in the work of Hack and Marcet in particular. While we can track a good deal of the bibliographic history of their publications, very little metatextual material can be found. To be sure, the issue here may be the result of the marginalization of women in the very gendered worlds of publishing and science, but it is also possible that these (and other) authors were seen as over-reachers whose voices, beyond their published works, needed to be suppressed or merely forgotten. Added to this concern, is the fact that when materials are present, they are often hidden in local archives and thus not neither easily accessible nor widely publicized.As a consequence, the remarkable impact of these writers continues to be diminished given both the dearth and the obscurity of foundational documents of their work.This pre-recorded panel will address the discrepancies and similarities between these two women writers and their literary afterlives as a means to extrapolate about the literary lives of scientific women writers during the nineteenth century.
Writing the literary lives of historical women authors is a daunting task. Personal records are often scant due to sexism in legal records and society at-large as well as the destruction of personal records of female authors by family and friends. Faced with these obstacles, researchers chase after every detail and reference no matter how cursory or small. Often formerly famous women writers are mentioned alongside a male counterpart be it fan, brother, father, husband, or son. In the case of Jane Marcet, it is in regard to her importance to a young Michael Faraday, a renowned British scientist from the nineteenth century despite a varied oeuvre that includes over 17 titles related to science, political economy, and philosophy. As one of the most important knowledge brokers and authors in nineteenth century Europe, you would think that manuscripts relating to her works and correspondence with both scientific and literary communities would be robustly held in libraries and archives, but instead documents relating to Marcet are fragmentary or lost, with each reference and article referring to the same biographical details. While her books had an enormous cultural impact on both the United States, Great Britain, and to a lesser degree Europe, what we know about Marcet is only in connection to what contemporaries wrote about her.
This paper will address issues of bibliographic recovery work and research in tracing the networks of scientific and literary communication through a case study of Marcet. By understanding the obstacles she faced as a women writer, and more importantly, the obstacles of her literary afterlife, we uncover and gain knowledge of the lives of women authors of science and their scientific contributions to society.
In 1845, the 5th edition of Maria Hack’s Harry Beaufoy; or the Pupil of Nature was published in London, shortly after the death of the author. The book, a translation (as it were) for children of William Paley’s Natural Theology, was a well-established success both in the UK and in an American edition (1825) published by the Quaker Minister, Thomas Kite. Hack’s retelling of Paley helped introduced the idea of “natural theology,” a blend of strong scientific reasoning with Christian causality, to a generation of young readers who would, in a few decades, find themselves in the age of evolution. And yet Maria Hack, who was also responsible for young adult works on geology, zoology, as well a British and ancient history has received almost no attention as an agent of 19th century science and epistemology. The bibliographic records of her published works are certainly robust enough, but her legacy is marred by the absence of journals, correspondence, or manuscripts. As with every optimistic scholar, there is the hope that outlying materials are hidden away or mislaid only to be restored to public notice by serendipity. But in the world of print scholarship, serendipity is merely a euphemism for scholarly persistence which one hopes will lead to community engagement and a collective of knowledge. Attention to the work of Maria Hack and her peers is merely part of our task as cultural historians given that we have her published works available. The true challenge is the attempt to tease out the social, cultural, and economic contexts of a remarkable period in book history when women were central to the mediation of scientific knowledge. In this paper, I will explore the nature of the challenges facing scholars of what have been designated as marginalized texts, not with an eye toward retrospective remedies (clearly an impossible goal), but contemporary strategies to foreground and to provide context for Maria Hack and her contemporaries.
This roundtable will reconsider the production, consumption, and reception of comics and sequential art. Comics have historically been a popular but low-brow art form, with scholarship generally focusing on close readings of specific texts or on theoretical media discourse. We would like to read comics more broadly using book history as a tool to explicate publishing practices, authorial roles, reception histories, and challenges in bibliography and in collecting. Roundtable participants will discuss the changing roles of publishing and reading comics as a medium (especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic), material accessibility, and reconsider genre and collection practices for these materials.
Publishing contracts are tools for negotiation underpinned by the law of copyright – the law, historically, shifting from author to publisher (Alexander 2011, 4) as a result of changes in economics, policy, and publishing practice. Consequently, the value of cultural production in book publishing has proven a tricky landscape for negotiation, and the value of books as cultural products not as clearly articulated as the value of products in other businesses. Cultural and economic shifts and developments, globally, have created the dualities of ‘market versus community, individualism versus altruism, self versus other, form versus substance.’ (Paterson et al. 2009, 18) Publishing contracts, therefore, are enmeshed with the ‘industrial’ considerations of the publisher (Carter 2016, 10) and the ‘aspirational’ ideals of the author, (Fried, 20) as well as being potentially embedded with conflicting social and moral expectations. Publishing ‘practice’, on the other hand, is a business conducive to long-term relationships, collaboration and negotiation. In such a space, it could be expected that the publishing contract is used ‘as a starting point for renegotiation and adjustment when circumstances change or difficulties arise’. (Kimel 2007 in Mouzas et al. 2008, 6)
But is this what actually transpires? In the contemporary landscape, how is the contract enforced or negotiated? And what might these negotiations say about the industry on the whole? This panel presents independent research from Australia, the U.S. and the U.K., on the role of the editor in a post negotiation space and the emergence of the morality clause in author contracts, to illustrate how contemporary publishing contract negotiations shift and bend within a dynamic landscape, and what transpires in practice. (268)
The Post Negotiation Space: a study of contracts, authors and editors who make a difference
Publishing agreements do not stop being negotiated at the point of the contract being signed. Rather, an ongoing conversation that bends to the book’s successes and failures, and the title’s life in the publishing realm ensues. The parties to the contract often cannot predict the industry or global changes that might affect the contract’s terms, or account for all eventualities. And when the ongoing business relationship between author and publisher is more important than the fine print, renegotiation is possible. McHugh JA said: ‘[I]n an ongoing relationship, it is not always easy to point to the precise moment when the legal criteria of the contract have been fulfilled … new terms will be added or will supersede older terms.’
The editor’s involvement in the book-making process after contract signing is a powerful one – balancing the industry with aspiration, culture with commerce. In this sense they are mediators in a ‘post negotiation space’ (Day 2019) – a space of immense development, relationship building and, sometimes, transformation. Conversely, editors can also influence an author’s expression, adopting their publisher’s specific aims for the work. This paper explores the ‘post negotiation space’, where editors’ roles extend beyond finessing text to provide a crucial link for the author to the ‘site’ of in-house processes and to navigate the balance of power between authors and publishers. (219)
From Hollywood to Hardbacks: negotiating the morality clause in 21st-century book publishing
The morality clause has increasingly appeared in author contracts across the book publishing industry since 2017 (Deahl 2018). Originating in 1920s Hollywood film contracts, these clauses ‘control the antics of entertainers’ (Abril and Greene 2017) and have found their way into U.K. author contracts in the 21st century. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and other progressive social movements, book publishers are eager to demonstrate their moral upstanding by making their authors accountable for behaviours that are deemed problematic. The morality clause inserted in contracts gives them the power to do so.
However, the morality clause has disrupted the relationship between publishers and authors across the U.K. due to its ambiguous nature. The Society of Authors trade union has stated its disapproval of the clause and urges authors to negotiate them out of contracts. In 2018, the Royal Society of Literature released a statement addressing the increasing pressure on authors’ behaviour due to these clauses, arguing that ‘being good’ should not be conflated with ‘good writing.’ It is often unclear to an author what behaviours could trigger the morality clause. Yet, it is in publishers’ best interests to implement a wide-reaching, 'vague' morality clause for maximum protection (Pinguelo and Cedrone 2009).
This paper will explore the morality clause’s impact on the U.K. and U.S. publishing industry through a socio-legal lens, demonstrating the disparity between how the publishing industry receives the morality clause and how it is received in a court of law. It will explore the findings from semi-structured interviews to demonstrate what awareness of this clause exists in the publishing industry, and discuss how literary agents and authors deal with the morality clause during the negotiation stage of publishing agreements. (284)
In recent years, subscription-based digital streaming services have been a strong trend in the world of books. Solid statistics is scarce, but it is beyond doubt that streaming services are growing in most markets globally, and in some markets rapidly. For publishing studies and contemporary book history, the entry of subscriptions-based streaming services for audiobooks and e-books call several rather fundamental things into question. First, book sales can no longer be seen as the sole measurement of book consumption. Although there are differences between models, they all affect the core of bookselling. Rather than books, it is access to books that is being sold. In this respect, they have more in common with streaming services for other media (e.g. Netflix, Spotify) than with traditional book retailing and distribution.
Second, consumer behaviour is not the same when you pay for a copy before reading or if you pay for a monthly subscription. The threshold for starting to read is substantially lower in a subscription model than if the book has to be bought in advance and paid for individually. Streaming services thus affect book consumption.
Third, the shift into streaming creates new ways for studying reading. Access to large-scale data points enable scholars to answer questions that could only be speculated about earlier: Which books and genres are readers most (and least) likely to finish? Where do readers drop out in narratives?
Finally, the changes in consumption and distribution of books have deeply affected publishing and new ways of producing books. Audio has become a driving format in publishing which in turn has created new patterns, for example a stronger interest in backlist but also a production of original audio titles.
This panel discuss the rise of streaming services from a critical perspective on consumption, distribution and production.
“Introducing the Beststreamer. Mapping Nuances in Digital Book Consumption at Scale”
Streaming services for audiobooks and e-books have grown rapidly in recent years. This ongoing shift in how books are consumed are transforming reading and publishing, but also the possibilities for studying reading and publishing. Access to large-scale data points on real-time book consumption behaviour enable scholars to answer questions that could only be speculated about earlier.
The purpose of this paper is to analyse how different media foster different consumption behaviour in the bestselling segment of the book trade. The point of departure is a comparison of streaming patterns between bestsellers in print and the most streamed titles in a subscription-based streaming platform, Storytel. Two key concepts for digital publishing studies are introduced. First, the beststreamer, i.e. the most streamed titles in a specific time and region. This concept, however, also has a second dimension as it measures actual consumption of books – started streams and finished streams as well as, potentially, any stage of completion. The beststreamer thus unites publishing and readership studies, and provides a measurement of impact based on consumption and not, as earlier book history metrics, based on book sales or library lending.
To make use of the more nuanced information available in the streaming data, I introduce the concept of the average finishing degree (AFD), which equals the number of finished streams (for a particular title, genre etc.) divided by the number of started streams. This measurement is powerful in its simplicity, and enables a fresh approach to the study of book popularity.
The empirical foundation is consumer behaviour data from Storytel, one of the key players globally in subscription-based digital bookselling. The dataset covers consumption patterns for the 170 titles that in 2015–2019 in Sweden were either bestsellers in print, beststreamers at the Storytel platform, or both. In total, 9.94 million streams are analysed.
"Producing for Streaming Services. Backlist Hype, Audiobook Originals, and Changing Patterns in Book Publishing"
The audiobook is the fastest growing format in contemporary publishing and has had significant impact on the actors involved in producing and distributing literature. Several observations can be made on the immediate effects and one is that particular categories of books have become important in audiobook streaming services: frontlist bestsellers, backlist titles in long series, and original audiobook production. All three are driven both by consumption patterns and by publishers’ striving to capitalize on the rapid change.
The paper will discuss streaming patterns to understand how these have affected audiobook publishing in Sweden in the last few years. Frontlist bestsellers, backlist production and audio originals will be analysed in their individual contexts. For example, audio versions of frontlist titles have become an important part of marketing of a new title rather than a format published later on. Also, the strong reader interest in backlist audio has pushed a strong production, the largest and most successful segment even. All the more interesting perhaps, at least from a book historical perspective, are the original audio titles. The audio originals have been a way for the subscription services to create unique content but also for traditional publishers to create content. The original audio format is associated with new modes of producing literature which in turn change the relations between producers and distributors, authors and publishers.
All in all, the rapidly changing consumption patterns for books has in turn deeply affected publishing structures and the contemporary book market in ways that need to be critically addressed.
While Robert Darnton (1982) and others have modelled the flow of texts through the bibliosphere, the panellists in this session contend that feminist and social-movement publishing remains poorly reflected in these frameworks. We each have many years’ experience – personal, professional and academic – with creating, publishing, disseminating, and using texts from women’s and activist movements, so we propose to interrogate the stages in Darnton’s communications circuit from our various positions as activist scholars.
Darnton’s circuit downplays the text of a publication, whereas feminist and movement presses frequently emphasise the value of the text as the reason for their existence. This strong relationship with the text, like the deep personal relationships of authors and small-press publishers, does not primarily respond to the commercial imperatives driving Darnton’s model.
Women’s Liberation Movement periodicals complicate the author/reader relationship as proposed by Darnton’s circuit. His model fails to adequately capture the role of a subaltern counterpublic (Fraser, 1990). Discursive forums, most clearly manifested in the ‘letters’ sections of feminist periodicals, offer insights into the ambiguous relationships between readers and writers.
Zines are a good example of how the feminist movement continues to drive a publishing counterculture, where, contrary to Darnton, works are published independent of industry constraints (Eichhorn, 2016). They also create what Piepmeier (2009) calls ‘embodied communities’ – producing alternative networks, including feminist bookshops and zine fairs, which help circumvent mainstream publishing.
Moreover, linguistic translation does not appear in Darnton’s model, yet arguably each stage represents a kind of translation, as the publication passes through a series of agents who each convert the ‘book’ from one state to the next. Furthermore, a translator – especially a feminist translator – constitutes a reader who impacts the synergies of the global feminist movements by broadening readerships and markets.
Darnton, Robert. (1982). "What is the history of books?" Daedalus. pp. 65-83.
Eichhorn, K. (2016). Adjusted margin: Xerography, art, and activism in the late twentieth century. MIT Press Ltd.
Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Social Text, 25/26, 56-80.
Piepmeier, A. (2009). Girl zines: Making media, doing feminism. New York University Press.
As research libraries become increasingly digital, their role in making texts accessible and available to readers has changed significantly. On the one hand, user expectations have grown as the availability of digital resources has increased – researchers expect to be able to search and access materials online – from journal articles, to e-books to digital surrogates of unique collections. On the other, the audience has expanded and evolved. For example, while students and staff at the University of Oxford remain our key focus at the Bodleian Libraries, we also serve a national and international community of scholars, and we are increasingly interested in reaching a wider non-academic audience and enabling ‘public engagement’ with our collections.
Improving accessibility and availability of our collections in this context requires significant investment in a range of areas – cataloguing and retroconversion of catalogues, creation of high-quality metadata, development of search and discovery platforms and digitization of unique collections. At the Bodleian Libraries, we are highly aware of the importance of this work. However, funding is limited, and the scale of our collections vast which means delivery is challenging and prioritization is essential.
This panel will provide practical insight into two current projects which aim to improve the discoverability and accessibility of our collections. First, we will look at the implementation of a persistent identifier scheme as part of the FAMOUS project. We will examine the importance of accurate and consistent identification of resources within Oxford and the approach that the Bodleian is taking to design infrastructure which will enable innovative new research. Second, we will reflect on the experience of managing a project to digitize 600 medieval manuscripts. This will provide opportunity for deeper discussion on how to maximise the impact of digitisation, the challenges of delivering effective engagement activities and how the success of such projects should be measured.
Identifying Special Collection objects in federated collections
Globally unique and persistent identifiers (PIDs) have become increasingly important for libraries to support users, whether they be readers wanting to access materials, or external computer systems conducting research that draws from collection data. The application of stable and reliable identifiers can improve the accessibility and discoverability of collections, provide the necessary infrastructure to enable new types of research and connections, and ultimately reveal more texts to more readers.
Despite their importance, for many institutions the implementation of PIDs is still in its infancy. Many PID schemes require a level of technical and metadata coordination that can be disruptive. Unlike many PID schemes, ARKs (Archival Research Keys) allow PIDs to be integrated into existing systems by decoupling identification (the association of a string and a thing) from resolution (the expectation that the identifier, when put into a URL, will lead a user to a web page). Separating identification from resolution allows the accurate identification of physical manuscript and archival materials alongside digital objects and catalogue records in multiple and decentralised existing systems, thus enabling the data flow between systems which will allow the development of new discovery services without wholesale restructuring of the underlying technical architecture.
By examining the application of PIDs to materials in the Bodleian Libraries Special Collections, this paper aims to highlight how the separation of persistent identification from persistent resolution means that ARKs can act as anchors with which Digital Humanities projects, digital objects, catalogue records and legacy systems can be brought together, substantially improving discoverability. In doing so, it also aims to facilitate wider discussions about the challenges and opportunities for applying PIDs to physical and born-digital Special Collections material, the design of sustainable and interoperable digital humanities projects, and explore how existing infrastructure and metadata can be progressively enhanced to improve discoverability and accessibility.
Using digitization projects to open up library collections.
Digitization is a key tool in the Bodleian’s aim to ‘open up’ our collections. Digitization helps to democratise research – removing practical barriers (time, distance and cost) to accessing the physical materials. Done properly, in conjunction with effective discovery platforms, it will increase engagement with the sources leading to new insights and advances in research. High quality digital surrogates can also contribute to quicker and more efficient practises in scholarship – and they provide a lifeline when access to library buildings is restricted.
Digitization also provides an opportunity for the wider public to explore our collection items in far more detail and at a greater scale than is possible through our exhibitions. A key part of our digitization projects is making the digitized sources available within our Digital Library (Digital Bodleian) and/or on a bespoke project website. This means that a close study of these items is available to anyone at the click of a button.
It is clear that digitization has the potential to open up collections and widen access. But how do we ensure that our activities achieve these objectives and, in a climate of finite resources, how should we decide what to digitize? The creation of digital surrogates does not, of itself, widen access. So projects must also consider how to raise awareness of new sources to facilitate new research - and find a way to measure their success in doing so. As well as benefitting the academic community, funders increasingly expect some element of public engagement on projects but we are lacking a clear model of best practise or even a strong understanding of the type and scale of resources required to deliver this effectively.
This paper will reflect on my recent experience of managing a digitization project, covering some the challenges encountered and the lessons learned. I will also suggest a number of outstanding issues that need to be addressed if libraries and other institutions are to deliver the greatest impact with their digitization activities.
Colonial India’s encounter with the printed book -- one of the earliest available commodities of the burgeoning consumer economy in the Nineteenth Century -- created new networks of production and distribution, and facilitated new modes of engagement with the written word. It brought together diverse communities, from European Missionaries to Indian gold-workers, wood-workers, and scribes, and made the written word accessible to sections of the society hitherto deprived of the same. The ubiquity of the seemingly innocuous printed book presented immense potential, even as it gave rise to uncertainty and anxieties in different sections of the society. Despite the rich and growing body of work on book history and the history of readership in colonial India, there remains expansive scope for exploration into the various facets of the diverse print and reading cultures in Nineteenth Century India.
The papers in this panel will examine this diversity through case studies, exploring the contested meanings of the printed word and the book. The panel hopes to shed light on some exciting aspects of print and readership in colonial India, ranging from the book-reading bhadramahila of colonial Bengal to the new Urdu novel after 1857.
The Pleasure of the Book: Advice for Women in 19th Century Bengal
In an advice manual titled, Kumari Shiksha (The Education of Young Women; 1883), the author - one Nabinkali Dasi - tells her readers, “...the pleasure of your studies will remain with you your whole life. There will be no stage in your life when that pleasure will be inappropriate. There is no one with whom it must be shared.” The ‘you’, here, is the writer’s intended audience -- young Bengali women (bhadramahila) of Hindu, upper caste origins, learning to read and write at a time when women’s education had increasingly become part and parcel of ‘reformist’ agenda.
The printed book, one of the earliest commodities of circulation and consumption in the burgeoning consumer economy of colonial India, presented a conundrum for native proponents of women’s education in 19th century Bengal: at once desired and dangerous. The book, by its sheer ubiquity, could make its way to the confines of the antahpur (inner sphere) and into the hands of the female reader. In a sea of advice manuals obsessing over the evils of passive consumption and feminine idleness, the author of Kumari Shiksha appears to propose an altogether different potential of the book for the female reader -- one that is essentially defined by pleasure. This paper seeks to explore the contested meanings of the book through a reading of Kumari Shiksha vis-a-vis a host of contemporary advice manuals written for women in 19th century Bengal.
From Idle Pleasures to Utilitarian Pursuits: The Transformation of the Book in 19th Century Urdu Literary Sphere
With the failure of the revolt of 1857, the East India Company and its administrative powers in India escalated to new heights. This had a momentous impact on the way literature and more significantly, books came to be perceived. The British interest in matters of Indian literatures and languages dates back to the 17th century, culminating in eventual official declarations that confirmed financial assistance towards the cause including the 1813 clause of East India Company Act as well as the 1854 Education Despatch. The failure of the revolt furthermore affirmed the policies brought forth by the Company and were continued by the Crown. This resulted in direct interference of British officials with the material production of books in the vernaculars, particularly with the Gazette Notification No. 791 A of 1868 that called for outstanding books in the vernacular languages that were both ‘useful and amusing’. Simultaneously with the boom in the printing press, the Urdu literary sphere saw a visible shift from poetry to prose and the evolution of the first Urdu novels. These novels reflected the relationship of readers and writers to the emerging materiality of the book and how the book as a transforming signifier could alter their status in society. Reading two such early Urdu novels on the book, namely Taubat-un-Nasooh (The Repentance of Nasooh, 1874) by Nazir Ahmed and Umrao Jaan Ada (1899) by Mirza Hadi Ruswa, in this shifting context, this paper aims to explore the transformation of the book from an object of delight, pleasure and leisure to one of industry, usefulness and instruction.
For textual materials to move as they should into, through, and out of libraries—ultimately, into the hands of readers and researchers—they need to be made accessible. And accessibility, which is always a complex interaction, becomes especially fraught when the materials in question do not conform to library conventions.
Accessibility requires, first of all, that particular materials have been acquired because they are seen as culturally valuable and worthy of library labor. Secondly, it requires that these materials are described, that is, catalogued, in ways that fully capture their interest. Thirdly, those descriptions need to be discoverable by those who need the materials, facilitating the final stage of connection: when text and reader are brought together.
The two presentations in this session examine different library accessibility processes, especially cataloging and collecting, in relation to two kinds of “outlier” materials, artists’ books and ephemera. Artists’ books are notoriously hard to describe in ways that fully reveal their visual, conceptual, and formal identities. Ephemera is often not collected by libraries, partly because it has been historically under-valued, even though it is often the only documentary recourse of marginalized communities.
We analyze the obstacles to accessibility in each case and review alternative approaches, proposing that, when “outlier” materials are more present and visible in the cultural record, and more legible as artifacts to readers, they offer the potential for transformative interactions between readers and textual objects.
Paper 1: The Challenge in Making Artists' books Accessible
Artists' books pose a profound challenge to librarians and catalogers, as they critically reflect and subvert institutional assumptions about the library catalog schema.
Questions such as: how to create access to the knowledge provided by the artist's book within the limitations of the bibliographic record; how to create access to the various aspects of the artist's book; and how to shape this access-to-knowledge, accompany the path to the work’s discovery.
The way in which this knowledge is postulated and represented is crucial for success in retrieving the information, and structure the way in which we encounter and engage with the artist's book. There is no substitute to the actual encounter with the artist's book, but no less important is the path configuration leading to this encounter. In addition, it can be said that the path to the artist's book is no less coded than the nature of the artist's book itself.
The library record leans on traditional assumptions regarding habits of thoughts, patron’s needs, and research methodologies. The challenges in cataloging artists' books raise awareness to these aspects, and call attention to what remains implicit in the library’s mundane practices and interpretive acts. Furthermore, such complexity concerns the ability to convey new forms of critical reflection that transcend disciplinary and cultural constraints (understood through the metadata fields).
In my paper I seek to outline the role of the cataloger as a mediator who has a tremendous impact on making artists’ books accessible to readers, despite their complexity. I wish to discuss the challenges in designing and structuring a record that makes accessible the various features of artists’ books. In addition, I will delineate the attempt to transmit what seems incapable of being structured within the constraints of the metadata fields of the bibliographic record.
Paper 2: Archival Justice: Reparative Collecting with Ephemera
Archival materials provide the primary sources for history. But many individuals and communities have not traditionally been well represented in archival collections: women, immigrants, poor people, people of color, and sexual and gender minorities, for example, have often been left out, or are present only through representations created by, and serving the interests of, more powerful entities. More complete histories that embrace the full range of human experience need to overcome these archival absences and distortions.
Collections of ephemera—materials created to serve a time-limited purpose, which are often, therefore, cheap and disposable—offer one, partial route to a more just archive. Fliers, brochures, pamphlets, and postcards, for example, help make visible the experiences and interests of those whose lives went unrecorded or were twisted in more permanent accounts. New collecting philosophies, technologies, and research methods can maximize the potential of ephemera collections to serve the purposes of archival justice.
In this presentation, I will showcase several approaches to ephemera and ephemera collections that illuminate not only what has been left out of history, but also, what we can never fully recover.
Dr. Louisa Preston will moderate the q&a session for this pre-recorded panel.
Literary translators have long played many different roles in the publishing process. Just as the work of translation is a complex act of negotiation and creation, the extent of translators’ influence on what gets translated has often been underestimated or misunderstood. The panel will consider the translators Gwendolyn Moore (French-to-English), Norbert Guterman (Polish/French/German/Russian-to-English), and Michael Glenny (Russian-to-English), examining important translation projects that they initiated or in which they played key roles. Its focus is on the mid-twentieth century; panelists will discuss examples of literary translation from the 1940s through the 1970s. The panel will also address how these three translators worked in concert with innovative publishers, such as Maynard Gertler, founder of Harvest House, a Montreal-based company dedicated to publishing the first English translations of the works of Québécois writers in inexpensive, accessible editions. The panelists will draw on traditional sources such as correspondence and manuscripts and will also argue that greater attention should be paid to underutilized sources like readers’ reports, reflecting new scholarship (exemplified by the work of Cordingley and others) on the ‘translation archive.’
The Translator as Cultural Mediator: Québec’s Gwendolyn Moore
The rise of French-to-English translation in Québec can be traced to an intrepid few who saw value and importance in the cross-cultural work of literary exchange. Two such figures were the translator Gwendolyn Moore and her publisher Maynard Gertler of Harvest House, a Montreal-based English-language firm that issued the first English translations of Québécois literature in inexpensive, accessible editions. Moore was one of the first translators to appear in The French Writers of Canada, a premier series of twenty-two titles of fiction and poetry published by Harvest House between 1965 and 1983.
Moore succeeded in bringing novelist Yves Thériault to the attention of English readers. She regarded Thériault as “one of the outstanding Canadian authors of our time” and went on to translate and publish Ashini in 1971 and N’Tsuk in 1972. Moore also produced the first-ever English translation of Anne Hébert’s prose. The Torrent, a collection of stories, appeared in 1973 and brought Hébert to the attention of readers outside of Québec.
For Moore, the act of translation was personal and political. As the wife of a non-status Indian from the Kipawa Reserve at Témiscamingue, Québec, she felt called to translate Thériault’s story of the last Innu chief in Ashini and the life story of a 100-year-old Inuit woman in N’Tsuk. Similarly, as a transplanted anglophone from British Columbia and former high school teacher of French, Moore was compelled to translate the vivid violence of Hébert’s Québec.
In studying Moore’s role as a trailblazing translator of Thériault and Hébert and her alliance with the foreword thinking Gertler, this paper will argue that she became a key intermediary figure of cultural exchange during the formative period of French-to-English translation in Québec, which emerged early in the 1970s following the establishment of a federally funded program of translation grants.
Reading the Reader’s Report
Readers’ reports are an illuminating and underexamined part of publishers’ and translators’ archives. This talk will use two collections that contain readers’ reports – the papers of the translator Norbert Guterman at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, and the archives of Farrar, Straus & Giroux at the New York Public Library, specifically the materials that document the publication of Michael Glenny’s translation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel August 1914 – to demonstrate what can be learned from reports about the forces that shaped the publication of literary translations in mid-twentieth-century American publishing. Guterman and Glenny’s careers saw them playing many roles in the publishing process, roles often uniquely documented in reports that were not intended for public circulation but that had significant effects on what was translated, who translated it, and how it was presented to American audiences.
We remember theatres of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain as places of performance rather than print. Dominated by sound, movement, and spectacle, these are the years where pantomime, melodrama, and burletta thrived, where audiences each night were entertained by the ephemeral feats of acrobats and animals. But it was also a cultural venue dominated by print. We see this in the playbills that used creative typographic strategies to announce each night’s attractions, in the print editions of plays and the toy theatre sheets available for purchase at performances, and in the reviews in daily papers and periodicals. Print pervaded the Romantic theatre, and yet the relationship moved in both directions via adaptations of published works or reenactments of recent and historical events. The relationship between print and performance was at once mutually constitutive and mutually mediating, creating a feedback loop in which each shaped the other.
Building on recent work by Jonathan Mulrooney, Michael Gamer, and Gillian Russell that has sought to recover the inextricable relationship between print and the theatre, this panel investigates the role that the theatre played in the movement, circulation, and mediation of Romantic texts. Our papers ask how the theatre shaped the life cycles of given texts, the careers of authors writing for both venues, and the literary market writ large. How, for example, were popular print texts adapted and transformed for performances and then reconfigured again for home use? How did authors writing for both the print market and the theatre position themselves at the intersection of two disparate yet entwined markets? Most fundamentally, how did the theatre transform the material conditions of literary production, and how was it reciprocally transformed in the process?
The afterlife of novels on the Romantic stage
The playbill for The Exile, Frederick Reynold’s 1808 adaptation of Sophie Cottin’s French novel, Elisabeth (1806), entices potential theatregoers with a long description of its most sensational staged event, the “Grand Public Entry of the Empress Elizabeth Through a Triumphal Arch decorated for the occasion.” As The Exile is staged and re-staged, these spectacle descriptions come to dominate the playbill page, while acknowledgement to the adaptation’s source falls off it. In the movement of non-dramatic texts to the stage, this foregrounding of spectacle and the uneven acknowledgment of source material raise questions about novelty, originality, and ownership on the Romantic stage.
The Romantic period saw a flourishing of adaptations to and from the stage (adaptations that I am currently amassing in a Mellon-funded database project). In order to analyze these cross-media movements, I look to printed playbills to question when, why, and how plays’ statuses as adaptations were sold to the public. In the afterlife of texts on stage, at what point is the original left behind? I turn to the reverse case of plays being adapted into novels for the second half of my talk, using William Kemmish’s The Beauty and the Beast (1806) and Sarah Wilkinson’s Castle Spectre (1820) as case study. Both prose adaptations borrow from plays which themselves have been sourced, either directly or indirectly, from non-dramatic texts. Rather than conceal these relations, Cross and Wilkinson sell their works on their multifaceted relationship with the stage. Analyzing these novels’ paratexts alongside the playbills elucidates the fact that these adaptations are not isolated acts of borrowing. Rather, they act as flashpoints in a network of multi-directional exchange between the novel and the stage—a network that can tell us a lot about Romantic views on proprietorship and originality.
Authorship and the Problem of Copyright in the Romantic Theatre
Recent years have seen a proliferation of criticism on the effects of copyright legislation on the book trade and the theatre in Romantic Britain. Michael Gamer’s Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry (2017), for example, demonstrates how the outcome of Donaldson v. Beckett (1774), which ended perpetual copyright, resulted in Romantic writers fashioning themselves as canonical figures; similarly, Derrick Miller’s Copyright and the Value of Performance (2018) explores how the expansion of copyright to plays and musical works in the nineteenth century marked a break with eighteenth-century notions of public performance. These studies demonstrate how print and performance were subject to stark differences in copyright even though they were deeply intertwined.
How, then, did Romantic authors writing for both theatrical and reading audiences—among them Keats, Coleridge, Byron, and others—position themselves at the confluence of these two markets while also navigating their divergent copyright restrictions, particularly when seeking to both print and perform the same works? My paper explores the different models of authorship produced by these overlapping yet disparate markets, turning to the legal controversy around Byron’s 1821 Marino Faliero as a case study for understanding how the theatre disrupts notions of Romantic authorship. Byron sought to obtain an injunction against the Drury Lane Theatre when its manager, Robert Elliston, obtained a copy of Byron’s newly published Marino Faliero and prepared to stage it. I read legal documents from the case as well as print ephemera that circulated at the theatre’s staging of the play to argue that Byron paradoxically sought to present himself as at odds with the theatre in order to profit from the staging of his work. More broadly, I show how the case brings into high relief the gap between print and theatrical authorship that writers such as Byron sought to reconcile.
These two linked panels focus on contemporary online reading practices in order to explore the various roles that readers play in “moving texts” in the twenty-first century. What are the relationships among platforms, publishers, readers and authors? How does power circulate among these agents and how might we conceptualise it? How do different examples of social reading online help us to understand recommendation culture? Taken together, the two panels trace the new ruling relations of power that structure the digital environment, while also mapping the informal and formal ways that readers exercise their agency as influencers, evaluators and content creators. The presenters’ case studies illustrate different examples of networks among readers and other agents. Using a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, they examine how algorithms, social and economic capital, and platform affordances - from Instagram to LovelyBooks - variously inform contemporary reading and book cultures. The panels are designed to showcase the research of early career scholars from Europe, North America and Australia working in and across languages, namely English, German, French, Dutch and Italian. In doing so, the presenters attend to both national and transnational formations of reading habits and communities, the multi-territorial reach of major technology companies, and the resulting complexities of promotion, discovery, delivery and reception of texts in an age of social media.
The proposed format is for 2 panels, each of which consists of 3 or 4 pre-recorded presentations of 15-20 mins each with 2 “live” 1-hour discussion sessions. For “live” sessions, the panel’s presenters will participate in responding briefly to some pre-prepared questions before the moderator invites comments and queries from the audience. In this way we hope to encourage attendees to join in the conversations even if they have not been able to listen to all of the pre-recorded material.
#wherethecrawdadssing: Discovering and distributing bestsellers in an era of transmedia engagement
Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo
No reader ever identifies bestsellers as their favourite genre but readers are undeniably crucial to a book’s commercial success. “Bestseller” is an unreliable category for readers in their search and discovery of the next book to read according to our online questionnaire about reading bestselling fiction (conducted in February-March 2020). For the agents who publicise and deliver books (authors, publishers and booksellers), however, “bestseller” is a stock label and paratext in the marketing and selling of fiction. What happens apart from the publisher’s packaging of a book that persuades readers to buy or borrow it? In this presentation we begin to examine readers’ roles in the production of bestselling fiction (in English). We consider, in particular, the ways that readers engage online with recommendation culture (van Dijck and Poell 2013), alongside “traditional” offline practices of social reading.
For this presentation, we will focus our analysis through a case study of Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens, a novel that spent two years on the New York Times’ bestseller list, which was described by a UK bookseller as a “true word-of-mouth hit” (Gaisford-Waller 2020), and which, most importantly for our investigation, was the most mentioned title by readers responding to our questionnaire. Our methods include the analysis of more than 1580 Instagram posts, data from our reader questionnaire, and interviews with key influencers whose appearances on Bookstagram and Booktube are frequently sponsored by publishers. Although they can be considered intermediaries between industry agents and readers, as well as conceptualised as “prosumers”, if not as “produsers” (Bruns 2009), influencers are also very reader-identified. Their multimodal interactions with readers across platforms foreground the importance of networked communication in the production of bestselling fiction. By analysing influencer-reader relationships, we can also begin to understand more about the qualities of the reading experience in a transmedia environment within which many twenty-first-century readers participate.
Cultural capital and digital reading on Wattpad: The case of Italian readers
In the 21st century increasingly more readers read literature on digital platforms and on mobile phones (Murray 2018; Thomas 2020), a reading habit often overlooked by national and international surveys. In this paper I present the results of a mixed-methods research about Italian Wattpad readers. I first conducted a survey about digital and print reading habits among Wattpad readers, followed by a focus group with selected readers. Then, I did a second focus group with graduate students (Literature major) who never used the platform before having been requested to do it for a course assignment. Additionally, I used computational methods to analyze thousands of comments written in the margins of one of the most successful romances (teen fiction) on Wattpad. The combination of different techniques allows me to offer insight about what are the aspects of digital reading that influence the reading experience the most and how they are perceived differently according to the reader’s cultural capital. Namely, I will talk about serial publication of chapters, author-reader interaction, reader-reader interaction, plot stereotypes, and narrative strategies. In conclusion, I will synthesize my findings about digital reading practices of young readers in the 21st century.
Murray, Simone. The Digital Literary Sphere. Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.
Thomas, Bronwen. Literature and Social Media. Routledge, 2020.
Reese’s Book Club, social media, and women’s contemporary popular reading practices
Women’s seemingly trivial pursuits of following Reese Witherspoon’s popular new books recommendations and documenting their reading in glossy social media posts, is actually an important practice of women’s empowerment. Every Reese’s Book Club selection is written by a woman and tells a story about a strong female character, setting RBC apart from most mainstream institutions. RBC is different from in-person book clubs and in-person recommendations (Jenny Hartley, Elizabeth Long, Elizabeth McHenry, Janice Radway), from the primarily televised Oprah’s Book Club (Cecilia Konchar Farr, Jamie Harker) and from other large-scale, least partly online, collective reading projects (Danielle Fuller, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Simone Murray), because RBC primarily lives in interactive social media: Instagram’s #bookstagram community and Goodreads.
This paper will argue that Witherspoon’s book club generates a new reading practice, and simultaneously a new practice of bookish discussion, that changes the contemporary canon of writing by women about the experience of being women. Following Janice Radway’s landmark Reading the Romance (1982), I assume that even even when the stories of the female characters might support patriarchy’s status quo, the ‘combative act’ of reading them implies the possibility of empowerment. Moreover, going beyond Radway, RBC followers discuss the books on social media, conversing with each other in meaningful ways, meeting new people and learning about new perspectives in the process. RBC creates a canon, limited as it is to around 40 books now, of highly-read women writing about the experience of being women and a shadow canon — extending beyond the primary RBC selections — of women’s discussions of books, enabled by social media.
 For the full list, see: https://hello-sunshine.com/post/reeses-book-club-all-picks
Authorship online: building reader communities through social media
Social media has tightened the relationship between author and reader. Where Darnton's communication circuit (1982) placed authors and readers at opposite ends of a text’s journey, with only a fragmented one-way link connecting them, authorship in the age of social media requires greater intimacy between the two. An author can no longer be the distant and "dead" god-like figure separated from both text and reader. Whereas good marketing from publishers and distributors may once have been key to attracting readers and getting books into their hands, an author's online presence now plays an integral part. This changes the dynamic between author and reader, as Collange and Puhl suggest (2019) that readers seek a genuine emotional connection with the authors they invest in, while also expecting the illusion of a story magician. An author brand, however, requires stability and consistency, and this may conflict with the reader's need for authenticity. By examining tweets posted by a sample group of traditionally and self-published authors around the release of their latest books alongside the ongoing autoethnographic insight gained through the self-publication of my own fiction, this paper explores how authors navigate these conflicts and many facets of the author identity online. It will look at what the sampled authors post, the subjects they engage in, and how they interact with the online community. In doing so, this combination of practice-based research and content analysis examines the contemporary author/reader relationship and how authors build their online communities.
Collange, V. and Pulh, M., 2019. On The Boundary of the Sacred and the Profane: The Author Name. Journal of Marketing Management, 7(2), pp.45-59.
Darnton, R., 1982. What is the History of Books?. Daedalus, pp.65-83.
Teaching book history through digital methods is hardly unique to our current COVID era, but distanced learning has challenged us to think more creatively about how to teach materiality virtually and to engage students in meaningful, iterative work. This roundtable will share strategies and assignments for working with book history in the virtual classroom as well as offer some lessons learned from teaching online. Participants will discuss how they employ digital methods to engage students in social knowledge production, from turning novels into RPGs, to building epistolary narratives over Discord, and making augmented reality books. Following lightning presentations, the roundtable will consider the following questions: what are the benefits and challenges of producing and working with digitized or born-digital material texts? What strategies can we employ to bring materiality and physicality to our digital pedagogy? How do the affordances of new technologies bring up exciting new avenues for reading and producing texts? Conversely, when is it productive to step back from the screen in order to engage with the physical world?
The literary marketplace in the United States does not operate evenly, nor does it grant equal access to representation and reading material to all readers. Instead, the large book distributors who create and supply markets often leave readers of color underserved and underrepresented. In this panel, Dr. Lee Francis IV and Cetonia Weston-Roy, both independent booksellers and advocates for historically underserved populations, will discuss their work creating, producing, and distributing books and comics through their respective businesses, Albuquerque’s Red Planet Books and Comics, and Milwaukee’s Niche Book Bar. In addition, the conversation will focus on the opportunities they saw to create Native and Black characters and stories to fill the gaps left by mainstream youth and YA publishing.
Final remarks and official end of conference