Workshop in the History of Material Texts

About the Workshop

The workshop in the History of Material Texts will celebrate its 21st year in 2013-14. Participants (including faculty, librarians, graduate students, booksellers and anyone else interested) come from a very wide range of disciplines; all are welcome to attend. The usual format of the seminar is a presentation of approximately thirty minutes, followed by discussion, based if possible on handouts or other visual materials. Unless noted otherwise, meetings will be held on Mondays at 5:15 in the Class of '78 Pavilion, in the Kislak Center for Special Collections on the 6th floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. If you would like to receive announcements about upcoming meetings, please sign up for our listserv using this link. For more information, please contact Jessica Rosenberg, 2013-14 Brizdle-Schoenberg Fellow in the History of Material Texts, at jessicar at sas dot upenn dot edu.


Spring 2014


January 27: Peter Stallybrass (Penn), “Epistolary Love: The Material and Formal Features of a Letter”

February 3: Margaret Holben Ellis(Institute of Fine Arts, NYU/Morgan Library and Museum), “The Bionic Drawings Connoisseur or How Scientific Tools Can Enhance Looking.”

February 10: John Bidwell (Morgan Library and Museum), “Matisse and Ulysses.”

February 17: Alex Devine (Penn), "'Biblia integra'/ 'Biblia preciosa': Mapping the post-medieval provenance and transmission of thirteenth-century bibles.”

February 24: Goran Proot (Folger Shakespeare Library), "The Importance of Jobbing: A Framework Agreement Between the Ghent Jesuits and the Printer Baudewijn Manilius for the Production of Theatre Programmes (1664)."

March 3: Jeffrey Todd Knight (University of Washington), "Venus in Vellum: Christopher Marlowe’s Premodernity.”


March 17, 18, 19: Ann Blair (Harvard University) delivers the 2014 A. S. W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography.

March 24: Theresa Fairbanks Harris (Yale University), “Paul Revere's Boston Massacre (1770). Historical and Technical Analysis.”

March 31: Jay Grossman (Northwestern), “F.O. Matthiessen (1902-1950), Anthropometry, and the Long Nineteenth Century.”

April 7: Theodor Dunkelgrun (Cambridge University/Katz Center), "The Amazing Adventures of a Twelfth-Century Hebrew Manuscript and its Readers Across Ten Centuries"

April 14: Blair Hedges (Penn State), "Wormholes and the science of prints and books.”

April 21: Michael F. Suarez, S.J. (Rare Book School, University of Virginia), "What Color Is Your Fish?": The Problems and Possibilities of Color in Some Eighteenth-Century Natural History Books"

April 28: Joseph Hacker (Hebrew University), "Sephardi Culture : Book Collections and Jewish Book Owners in the Late Medieval Kingdom of Aragon"

Fall 2013

Chase Richards (Penn), "Liberalism's Gaze of Progress? Wood Engraving and Nineteenth-Century German Publishing"

Sept. 23: Dee Andrews (CSU-East Bay), “Tracing the Steps of Thomas Clarkson: The Abolitionist as Author in the Age of Wonder”

Sept. 30: Daniel Raff (Penn), “What Became of Borders?”

Oct. 7: Carlos Spoerhase (Humboldt-University, Berlin), “Printed as manuscript: The material history of a strange genre, 1760–1830”

Oct. 14: Dan Traister (Penn) and Sam Streit (Brown), "Circulating a Copy of Thomas Gray’sPoems (1775) in 1775-1776"

Oct. 21: Joel Fry (Bartram’s Garden), “The Bartram Library of Books”

Oct. 28: Kyle Roberts (Loyola University Chicago), “Shelf-Marks as a Means for Reconstructing a Lost Library”

Nov. 4: Julie Davis (Penn), “Printing the Pleasure District in Full Color: Collaboration and Context inThe Mirror of Yoshiwara Beauties, Compared”

Nov. 11: William Noel and Dot Porter (Penn), “How to Disbind Every Book in the World”

Nov. 18: Randall McLeod (University of Toronto), “The Birth of Italics”

Nov. 25: Piet Van Boxel (Oxford/CAJS), “The Unicorn; Symbol of Power and Peace. A discussion of Ms. Can Or. 62 in the Bodleian Library (Oxford)”

Dec. 2: Sarah C. Schuetze (Kentucky), “Noxious Letters: Smallpox and Correspondence in the American Revolution”

Spring 2013

January 14: Michael Gamer (Penn English)
"Re-collection's Intranquility"

January 21: MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY, no seminar

January 28: Peter Stallybrass (Penn English / Director, History of Material Texts) and Robbie Glen (independent scholar; Penn English Ph.D., 2007)
"What is a Letter?"

February 5 (TUESDAY): Luis Girón Negrón (Harvard University) and Andrés Enrique-Arias (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
"Bible Translation and Exegesis in Late Medieval Spain: the 15th Century Arragel Codex"

February 11: Dan Cheely (Penn History)
"Catholic Bible Reading? Penn's Tridentine Vulgate (1605) and the Marginalia of Thomas Marwood"

February 18: John Pollack (Penn Libraries)
"A Canoa in Salamanca: Orality and the Representation of Native American Languages in Early American Texts"

February 25: Roger Chartier (Collège de France / Penn History)
"Materiality and Mobility of a Text: Bartolomé de Las Casas’ "Brevíssima Relación de la Destruycion de las Indias" between Sevilla, Antwerp and London"

March 4: SPRING BREAK, no seminar

March 11: Mitch Fraas (Penn Libraries)
"Printing for Emphasis: The Legal Brief in the Anglo-American World 1600-present"

March 18, 19, 21 (MONDAY, TUESDAY, THURSDAY): Rosenbach Lectures
Paul Needham (Princeton University Libraries)
"The First Quarter Century of European Printing"
see for more information and to register
(Dr. Needham will also convene a special seminar on WEDNESDAY March 20)

March 25: Jim Kearney (University of California - Santa Barbara)
"Smelling the Gospel"

April 1: Michael Leja (Penn History of Art)
"Picture Books for the Masses: the Fairy Book and the Pictorial Bible by J. A. Adams, J. G. Chapman, and Harper Brothers, 1836-1846"

April 8: Hannah Farber (University of California - Berkeley / McNeil Center for Early American Studies)
"Ships and Good Order: Illuminated Capitals in Early American Bills of Lading"

April 15: David Scott Kastan (Yale University)
"The Body of the Text"

April 22: Michael F. Suarez (Rare Book School / University of Virginia)
"Is this Bibliography? Tracking the History of the Slave Ship Image in Print"
(Dr. Suarez will also convene a special seminar on TUESDAY April 23)

Fall 2012

September 10: James N. Green (Library Company of Philadelphia)
"Benjamin Franklin’s Book Shop"

September 17: Heather Wolfe (Folger Shakespeare Library) and Jana Dambrogio (National Archives and Records Administration)
"Early Modern Letter Locking Techniques in Theory and Practice: Silk Floss, Seals and Folds"

September 24: Bernard Cooperman (University of Maryland)
"The Zohar — and a Bit of Hebrew Grammar On the Side: The Business of Hebrew Printing in the Italian Renaissance"

October 1: Mary E. Fissell (Johns Hopkins University)
"When a Masterpiece Becomes a Chameleon: Re-Making a Popular Medical Book in the 1830s and 40s"

October 8: Consuela (Chela) Metzger (Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library/University of Delaware)
"Conservation and the Material Text"

October 15: Joseph Rezek (Boston University)
"Furious Booksellers: the Transatlantic Publication of the Waverley Novels and the Language of the Book Trade"

October 22: Fall Break

October 29: meeting rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy

November 5: Dan Hobbins (Notre Dame)
"Toward a History of the Authorial Colophon"

November 12: Andrew Piper (McGill University)
"Deleafing: The History of Losing Print"

November 19: William Noel (University of Pennsylvania)
"Picking up the Pieces: What happened to a Manuscript Illuminated by W. De Brailes"

November 26: Peter Decherney (University of Pennsylvania)
"The Creativity Crisis: Innovation and the Shrinking Public Domain"

December 3: Jessica Rosenberg (University of Pennsylvania)
"Garden, Bower, Nosegay, Posy: On Some Early Modern Collections"

December 10: Rebecca Laroche (University of Colorado - Colorado Springs)
"Roses in Winter: Materials Texts and the Living Environment"