Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Exhibit: Bibliothecaphilia MASS MoCA (9/29/15 – 1/1/16)

September 28, 2015

Readers in New England may be interested in this announcement about MASS MoCA’s exhibit “Bibliothecaphilia” reposted from Book History at Harvard.  Anyone who has seen this exhibit and wishes to report back is invited to do so.  “Bibliothecaphilia’s” exhibit page can be found hereThe Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA, is always worth a visit.

For centuries, libraries have exerted a quiet sort of gravity, pulling us in with the promise that for a while, in the hushed, book-filled corridors, we can exceed ourselves. But, in this age of eBooks and library apps, does the physical and philosophical space of the library remain relevant? And what qualities define a library? Can libraries exist digitally, or be constituted of things other than books? The six artists in Bibliothecaphilia, explore the medium and ethos of libraries: institutions straddling the public and private spheres, the escapism that libraries offer, libraries’ status as storehouses for physical books — and thus for experiences and knowledge — and the way that these objects circulate and are re-used. Participating artists include Clayton Cubitt, Jonathan Gitelson, Susan Hefuna, Meg Hitchcock, Dan Peterman, and Jena Priebe.

The exhibition coincides with a year-long initiative at Williams College (including the Williams College Museum of Art and Clark Art Institute) dedicated to books, libraries, and information. It focuses on exploring the diverse ways in which people preserve and convey ideas, creative works, data, and other forms of information. The project features a wide array of public presentations, performances, courses, and exhibitions (including at the Williams College Museum of Art and Clark Art Institute) that imagine the theme from many perspectives.

This exhibition is made possible by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA and the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Bibliothecaphilia is curated by Allie Foradas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 – 09:00 to Friday, January 1, 2016 – 17:00


1040 MASS MoCA Way

01247 North Adams, MA

United States

Harvard edX MOOC: Robert Darnton’s The History of the Book

September 22, 2015

I have never been in favor of pushing online teaching in the humanities, but the Harvard edX series makes the most of blending digital technology and humanities teaching.

Readers may be particularly interested in Robert Darnton’s course, which begins this week, “The History of the Book in 17th- and 18th-Century Europe.”

Gregory Nagy’s “The Greek Hero in 24 Hours” is superb, despite the requirement that epics be read in specific translations available only electronically. (A cumbersome 900-page print-out option only inspires desire for separate printed texts).  That said, Nagy’s course is fantastic, and Robert Darnton’s course looks equally valuable.

The Harvard/MIT Edx platform for free online courses rolled out in 2012, not without controversy. as this and other articles suggest.  The courses are making me think–both about their subject matter and about online teaching.

Students, Reading, and Ebooks

September 20, 2015

E-book: an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a personal computer or dedicated handheld device.

–Oxford English Reference Dictionary

A 2012 study at the University of Ulster by Sarah Smyth and Andrew P. Carlin provides mixed messages regarding students’ attitudes toward ebooks and their actual use of them. Students claimed to prefer printed texts, objecting to ebooks because of difficulties in navigation and the distractions of the internet.  Yet they also used ebooks “heavily during peak study times prior to exams and assessment deadlines” (Smyth and Carlin, 195).

A “sizeable chunk of respondents,” however, did not engage with electronic texts at all, suggesting that reading competencies or digital competencies (or both) may be splitting into those who can use etexts comfortably and those who won’t or can’t.

Most students in this study accessed ebooks through “a laptop or PC (68%), followed by smartphone (21%), ebook reader (9%), and tablet computer (1%)” (188).  Reading a novel or an epic on a smartphone seems dispiriting–and bad for one’s eyes.

Students found ebooks helpful for making copies, and they appreciated their remote access, searchability, and cost, but they overwhelmingly preferred print (71.4% and 61.6%) for “pleasure of reading and ease of reading” (189).  They tended to use ebooks for research (66%), with only 18% reading ebooks for pleasure and 12% for lecture preparation (186).

The table below lists the most popular kinds of ebooks:

Texbooks                               56%

Fiction                                    19%

Research monographs           18%

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries  7%

This study unearths a utilitarian approach to reading–unsurprising, given that most reading by students will be homework.  But it also hints tantalizingly at students’ desire for the pleasure of printed texts.   At what  point do we begin to consider whether we are encouraging students to enjoy reading? Are the digital texts we make available conducive to the pleasure of reading?  Is it time to acknowledge that printed texts offer a more functional, concentrated, and pleasurable reading experience than ebooks, something we want to share with students?  Do we need to consider the cult of the printed book and the pleasure of reading as parts of a successful teaching formula that ought not be erased by the prevalence and fashion of ebooks?

Works Cited

Sarah Smyth and Andrew P. Carlin, “Use and Perception of Ebooks in the University of Ulster: A Case Study,” New Review of    Academic Librarianship, 18:176-205, 2012.

Digital Projects at SHARP 2015 — Part 2 ArchBook

August 23, 2015

In a previous post we presented an overview of the SHARP 2015 Digital Showcase, with a focus on two projects and a promise to follow up with a discussion of two additional ones. This post partially fulfills that promise with a look at Richard Cunningham’s presentation of ArchBook: “Architectures of the Book Knowledge Base” at SHARP 2015. (A post on Jordan Michael Howell’s “Digital Bibliography Quick Start” will be available shortly).

Attractively designed, ArchBook is a resource focused on “specific design features in the history of the book.”

It seeks, however, to be more than a digital version of a work such as Glaister’s Encyclopedia of the Book. Thus, rather than aim for full coverage of book architecture or design terminology from A to Z, the site offers in-depth articles devoted to selected elements in the history of the book. Each essay or entry charts a given feature’s initial appearance in the history of the book through its historical transformations and, in some cases, eventual vanishing. Likening their approach to Raymond William’s Keywords, the editors note that the articles are crafted to spur responses, further thought, and additional investigation. The idea for the resource emerged from work by the Textual Studies team of the Implementing New Knowledge Environment (INKE) project in 2009; grants from SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) secured by Inke and Alan Galey (University of Toronto) funded the project through 2013. Thus, while ArchBook had not been previously demonstrated at a SHARP conference, it is a resource that has been around for a while. (Indeed I have used it in my courses since 2013.)

To date, eleven “entries” or essays have been begun, and nine completed. Alan Galey’s Openings bears the earliest publishing date, 3 January 2012, and Laura Estell’s Commonplace Markers and Quotation Marks is the most recent entry, having been published in January 2014. Other topics covered include Decorated Letters, Flaps, Girdle Books (in progress), Grangerizing, Manicules, Pages (in progress), Table of Contents, Varorium Commentary, and Volvelles. As seen in this view from the Manicules page, each entry consists of five sections navigable by tabs: Definition, Historical Overview, Spotlight, Notes, and Works Cited. (Note: the sixth tab shown, Post-Publication, does not appear for all entries; moreover, this link is broken. However, the project blog does feature a post about manicules).

This entry’s historical scope extends from the classical era through iAnnotate’s stylized manicule designed for digital reading needs; such extended temporal coverage typifies the essays. Multimodal, the essays are also accompanied by images, and additional images appear in the 116-item image database.

The entries have evidently shaped the far more extensive glossary. Many terms from the essays are briefly defined in this section, including some of the entry topics. For instance, the glossary features an explanation for a “volvelle” (or wheel chart; it “consists of one or more layers of parchment or paper discs or other Over 125 items are defined, and they span a surprisingly broad range of topics. Alongside entries for watermarks, signatures, fascicle, gutter, gathering, one will also find definitions for PDF, commonplace book, presentation copy, plate, and multiple words related to typography and printing.

ArchBook shows much promise, but it also displays some of the issues we have discussed on EMOB over the years. The thought-provoking, well-researched entries benefit greatly from the long view each takes of its given topic, the accompanying images, and the references provided for further reading. The essays clearly took time to craft, and the time factor perhaps explains why only nine have been completed since the project’s inception in 2009. While there are detailed instructions for authors about entries, few have evidently answered the call to contribute. Similarly, the post-publication tab mentioned above seems to have failed to take off. ArchBook’s home page explains that “each ArchBook entry contains a post-publication discussion section with links to the project blog and related wikis, where readers are invited to continue the discussion,” yet no such exchange has been forthcoming. We have discussed the difficulties of generating exchange in digital resources devoted to that purpose many times on EMOB. We have highlighted the challenges most clearly perhaps in our multiple posts on EEBO Interactions, whose ultimate demise we noted in a post dated March 2013. We have also discussed the problems of sustaining such archives and resources, be it a matter of funding or the economics of time. Perhaps the decision to showcase ArchBook at SHARP 2015 was an effort to both publicize and to gain more users, responders, and entry authors for what is already a highly useful resource. Perhaps this post will also assist in attracting more notice to ArchBook.

Happy Digital Bloomsday!

June 16, 2015

It’s June 16, the celebrated day of James Joyce’s Ulysses, during which Leopold Bloom wanders through Dublin.  June 16 is also the day on which Bloom met his wandering wife Molly.

Traditional Joyce fans attempt to read the entire Ulysses (or parts of it) in a 24-hour period on this day.  Digital celebrations also exist, including representations of Joyce’s text in both bar codes and tweets.   The tweets divide the novel into 96 15-minute sections.  For more, see this NPR story.  Book historians may prefer to celebrate this day by looking at the history of Ulysses‘s book covers here.

My heavily annotated 1946 Modern Library hardback, lovingly rebound by a marvelous librarian at UNC (the always-to-be-admired Rachel Frew), is still my favorite way of reading Joyce’s novel.

After Print: Manuscripts in the Eighteenth Century

April 13, 2015

Readers may be interested in the upcoming “After Print: Manuscripts in the Eighteenth Century” conference at UC Santa Barbara on April 24.  Margaret Ezell will be a keynote speaker.

The schedule is printed below.


All events will be held in the McCune Conference Room in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, 6020 HSSB.

8:00-8:45 a.m.: Breakfast

8:45-9:00: Welcome remarks

9:00-10:30: Panel 1: Accessing Authorship

Emily C. Friedman, Auburn University: “Amateur Manuscript Fiction in the Archive: An Introduction”

Andrew O. Winckles, Adrian College: “Pray for the Unworthy Scribbler: Oral, Manuscript, and Print Culture Among Early Methodist Women”

Betty A. Schellenberg, Simon Fraser University: “‘Through Virtue’s Sacred Gate to Honor’s Fane’: Manuscript-Print Equilibrium and the Yorke-Grey Coterie, 1740-1766″

10:30-10:45: Coffee

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Panel 2: Politics in Manuscript

Dee E. Andrews, California State University, East Bay: “Thomas Clarkson’s Hand: The Uses of Manuscripts in Abolitionist Authorship”

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, University of Southern California: “Revolutionary Manuscripts: Reading Political Epistolarity in the Revolutionary Atlantic, ca. 1765-1800″

Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University: “Mediating the Glorious Revolution”

12:15-1:15 p.m.: Lunch

1:15-2:45: Panel 3: Scientists and Cosmopolitans

Chiara Cillerai, St. John’s University: ““Forms of Belonging: Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s Manuscript Books”

Tilottama Rajan, University of Western Ontario: “Arranging the Sibylline Leaves of Science: The 1835 and 1861 Editions of the Work of John Hunter (1728-93)”

Colin Ramsey, Appalachian State University: “Becoming Dr. Franklin: Benjamin Franklin’s Construction of a Scientific Reputation in Manuscript and Print”

2:45-3:00: Coffee

3:00-4:30: Panel 4: New Methods

Marissa Nicosia, Scripps College: “Cooking in the Archives: Bringing Eighteenth-Century Manuscript Recipes into a Twenty-First-Century Southern California Kitchen”

Sandra Friesen, University of Victoria: “Beyond Best-Text Editions: Interpreting the Many MS Contexts of ‘Seigneur/Seignior/Signior Dildo(e)’”

Claude Willan, Stanford University: “Poetry Clusters”

4:30-5:00: Break

5:00-6:30: Keynote address: Margaret Ezell, Texas A&M University

“‘Burn when read’:  Some Thoughts on Manuscript Cultures after the Expiration of the Licensing Act (1695)”

Call for Abstracts: Scholarship, Print, and Polemics in Seventeenth-Century Germany

January 25, 2015

Readers may be interested in the following Call for Abstracts from Christian Callisen–AB

Scholarship, Print, and Polemics in Seventeenth-Century Germany

Call for Abstracts

This is a call for abstracts or extracts of book chapters that explore scholarly practice in the Holy Roman German Empire of the seventeenth century. The proposed volume is specifically interested in exploring the interactions between scholarly practice, print technology, and the polemics associated with confessionalisation and the rise of the early modern nation state. Potential contributors are encouraged to consider these interactions in the context of early modern interdisciplinarity and the correspondence networks that underpinned the Gelehrtenrepublik.

A rising interest in the early modern republic of letters is apparent in historical scholarship of the last three decades, and the last ten years in particular have seen a surge in this field. Initiatives such as the Cultures of Knowledge project at Oxford, and new journals such as Republics of Letters, sponsored by Stanford University, focus specifically on this unique world and the correspondence networks and scholarly rituals that were so crucial to its success. Nevertheless, scholarly interest in the German context, at least among Anglophone scholars, has been somewhat sporadic. English-language scholarship (particularly monographs) on the early modern republic of letters has tended towards the English and French contexts, with a gap in our understanding of how these experiences translated to and from the German lands. Alternately, one often finds the literature examining the topic with intellectual icons from the Low Countries at the centre and scholars from Germany and elsewhere cast almost at the periphery.

This volume will add to a growing body of work in the German context with contributions that explore scholarship, print, and polemics in the seventeenth-century German lands with a specific focus on the interdisciplinary practices and correspondence networks that supported them. In so doing, it is anticipated that this volume will not only add to our existing understanding of early modern scholarly practice, but will also offer different perspectives on interactions between German scholars and their international counterparts. In this light, contributions that compare and contrast the German experience with the broader seventeenth-century republic of letters, and/or which contextualise their analyses in this context, are strongly encouraged.

Abstracts may be up to one page in length, and final chapters should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words, including notes.

Please submit abstracts, extracts, or drafts to the editor, Christian Thorsten Callisen, via email ( by 31 March 2015. Successful submissions will inform a book proposal for consideration in Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History. It is anticipated that completed drafts of chapters will be required by the end of February 2016, with revisions to be completed thereafter, though final deadlines will be confirmed.

Christian Thorsten Callisen is based in Brisbane, Australia. His research focuses on interdisciplinary scholarship and the dissemination of ideas in early modern Europe. His work has appeared in the Journal of the History of Ideas and he is editor of Reading and Writing History from Bruni to Windschuttle: Essays in Honour of Gary Ianziti (Ashgate, 2014).

Digital Diversity 2015: Writing|Feminism|Culture

August 25, 2014

This conference may be of interest to many on this list:

Digital Diversity 2015: Writing | Feminism | Culture
Edmonton, Canada, May 7-9 2015
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Project Orlando

How have new technologies transformed literary and cultural histories? How do they enable critical practices of scholars working in and outside of digital humanities? Have decades of digital studies enhanced, altered, or muted the project to recover and represent more diverse histories of writers, thinkers, and artists positioned differently by gender, race, ethnicity, sexualities, social class and/or global location?  This conference examines the trajectory of feminist digital studies, observing the ways in which varied projects have opened up the objects and methods of literary history and cultural studies. It marks the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Orlando Project, an ongoing experiment in digital methods that produces Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles, from the Beginnings to the Present ( Alongside pioneering projects such as the Women Writers Project, the Corvey Project, the Dickinson Electronic Archives, the Perdita Project, and the Victorian Women Writers Project, Orlando blazed a new path in the field, bringing together feminist literary studies with emerging methods of digital inquiry.  These twenty years have witnessed a revolution in how we research, produce, and circulate knowledge. It is time to reflect upon the impact of the digital turn on engagement with the literary and cultural past.

We welcome presentations that will together reflect on the past, present, and future of digital literary and cultural studies; examine synergies across digital humanities projects; and stimulate exchanges across such fields as literary history, history, art history, cultural studies, and media studies.

Potential topics include:

    • Transformations and evaluations of feminist, gender, queer and other recuperative literary studies
    • Digital manifestations of critical race studies, transatlantic/transnationalist or local/community-based approaches
    • Collaborations between digital humanities specialists and scholars in other fields
    • Born-digital critical and creative initiatives in cultural history (journals, blogs, electronic “branch” projects, crowdsourcing, multi-media, and interactive projects)
    • Editorial initiatives, digitization and curation of primary texts, representation of manuscripts and the writing process
    • Inquiry into texts, networks, and historical processes via visualization and other “distant reading” strategies
    • Authorship and collaboration: the work of women and other historically marginalized writers, traditional models of scholarship, and new conditions of digital research and new media
    • Sound and sight: sound and visual arts studies in digital environments
    • Identities and diversity in new media: born-digital arts in word, sound, and image, in genres including documentaries, blogs, graphic novels, memoirs, hypertexts and e-literature
    • Conditions of production: diversity in academia, publishing, library, information science, or programming, past and present
    • Cultural and political implications of particular tools or digital modes of presentation
    • Pedagogical objectives, practices, environments
    • Dissemination, accessibility, and sustainability challenges faced by digital projects
The conference will include paper/panel presentations as well as non-traditional presentation formats. Please submit abstracts (500 words for single paper, poster, or demonstration, and 1500 words for panels of 3 papers or workshops) along with a short CV for each presenter. We are applying for funding to support the participation of students and emerging scholars.

We welcome proposals for other non-traditional formats. Half- to full-day workshops will be held on the first day of the conference; demonstrations and poster presentations will be embedded in the conference program. Proposals for workshops should provide a description, outline, and proposed schedule indicating the length of time and type of space desired.

The deadline for all proposals is 15 September 2014. Submit proposals by email, to Follow us on Twitter @digdiv2015.

Folger Digital Texts Now Online (and Other March Announcements)

March 15, 2014

This month has already seen a number of news items of potential interest to EMOB readers including Gale-Cengage’s announcement that will it offer STEM e-books from Springer and Elsevier (a potentially potent nexus of publishing forces in the subscription database world) as part of its Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) and that it is launching a Proprietary Monograph Publishing Program; free access in March to Orlando: Women’s Writing Online that Anna announced here a few days ago; and a note from Dr. Ian Christie-Miller about digital imaging resources he has been developing and the interest it has received in the UK.

Just this week the Folger announced that all 38 of its digital texts of Shakespeare’s plays are now available, free of charge, online. As the homepage’s title Timeless Texts, Cutting-Edge Code suggests, a key feature of these texts is the robust coding that one can freely download. Besides the meticulously executed TEI-compliant XML structure of these plays, the texts are also attractively designed for reading as this opening of All’s Well That Ends Well illustrates. This page also displays the useful digital paratexts accompanying each work. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine offer a brief Textual Introduction to the site.

We would like to hear from others about how they are using this new resource–both in terms of its texts and the source code.

Women Writers Resources Free Access During March

March 1, 2014

Readers will be interested in Julia Flanders’ announcement that Women Writer’s Online will be free and open to the public during March.  WWO can be accessed by clicking here or by going to

Orlando will also be free and open to the public during March.  Orlando can be accessed by clicking here or by going to,


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