Futures of Book History

Friday, April 4, 2014–Saturday, April 5, 2014
9:30 am PDT

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Christopher Hunter, California Institute of Technology; and Gerald Cloud, rare bookseller.

futures13What will the future of Book History look like? What should it look like? With the exaggerated claims of the “death of the book,” on the one hand, and publication of major multivolume histories of the book in America, Britain, Canada, and France on the other, it is an opportune moment to reflect on such questions. Early modern print often eludes or exceeds the linguistic or national categories that organize its investigation. Digital tools like image archives, text-searchable databases, and GIS mapping have already changed the way book history is practiced. This conference asks prominent practitioners in the field to reflect on the methodological and theoretical stakes of their own work, and to identify questions in the field that remain unanswered, or even unasked.

Session 1: Textual Geographies
Chair: Christopher Hunter, California Institute of Technology

Fiona A. Black, Dalhousie University
“Investigating Book History through Geographic Lenses: Successes, Challenges, and Unanswered Questions”

David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School
“The Geographies of Book History”

Session 2: Histories Books Make
Chair: Derrick R. Spires, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Lorna Clymer, California State University, Bakersfield
“Interpretive Questions in Book and Literary Histories”

Richard S. Newman, Rochester Institute of Technology/Library Company of Philadelphia
“The Black Book: Making and Remaking African American Textual Histories”

Session 3: Objects’ Objects
Chair: Stephen Tabor, Huntington Library

Leslie Howsam, University of Windsor
“The Ambition of Book History”

Michael F. Suarez, S.J., Rare Book School at the University of Virginia
“Critical Bibliography and the Futures of Book History”

Session 4: Old Texts, New Media
Chair: Johanna Drucker, University of California, Los Angeles

Benjamin Pauley, Eastern Connecticut State University
“Remediating Book History”

Peter Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania
“Reading Letters Digitally”

Session 5: Pedagogy, Collaboration, and the Futures of Research
Chair: Susan M. Allen, California Rare Book School/University of California, Los Angeles

Matt Cohen, University of Texas at Austin
“The Social Future of the History of the Book”

Johanna Drucker, University of California, Los Angeles