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  • Monday, October 1, 2018 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us Monday, October 1, for this semester’s next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene at our usual time and place: 5:15pm in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming Whitney Trettien for a talk entitled: “Edward Benlowes’ Queer Books: Experiments in Digital Book History.” Whitney writes:

This talk addresses the vibrant, transmedia bookwork of Edward Benlowes (1603-1676). A wealthy gentleman educated at Cambridge, Benlowes lived and worked at Brent Hall in Finchingfield, a small village in Essex, England. For most of his life, he was joined there by his close companion and domestic secretary Jan Schoren, a Dutch printer whom he had met while traveling abroad. Together, they set up a library of lavishly illustrated books and an atelier of printing technologies, including tools to stamp bookbindings and a rolling press for making intaglio plates. From this domestic printshop, they collaborated on a series of boutique publications and, in the process, cultivated a homosocial network of poets, printers, engravers, and composers. They left florid Latin inscriptions on flyleaves for friends, set books to music, pressed elaborate symbols of patronage onto blank pages of Phineas Fletcher’s work, produced the seventeenth-century’s most popular book of emblems with Francis Quarles, and, as their world crashed into civil war, tucked fragments of old prints into the gathered folds of Benlowes’ poetic masterpiece Theophila (1652).

In this talk, I will share what I have learned about what we might call Benlowes’ poetics of the codex while also demonstrating some of the digital tools and methods I have used to better understand his queer collaborations. These include social networks analysis and a new platform, designed with web engineer Liza Daly, for building web-based “tours” of an unusual book like Theophila. Motivating this work are big-picture questions, among them: How can multimedia publishing and digital editing make visible the creative labors of seemingly idiosyncratic or marginalized figures like Benlowes? And how can data help us place their work within broader cultures of reading and writing?

Whitney Trettien is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches on digital humanities and book history. Her current book project, Cut/Copy/Paste, unpacks the history of three fringe communities that assembled books from fragments in seventeenth century England. It is a hybrid print/digital project being staged on the Manifold Scholarship platform of University of Minnesota Press, where the monograph is enriched with digital editions, videos, sounds, maps, and datasets related to each community. She recently co-edited Provoke!, a web-based collection of sonic scholarship. A print companion, Digital Sound Studies, is out this month from Duke University Press. She is also the co-editor of thresholds, an occasional digital zine for poetry, art, and creative/critical scholarship.

All are welcome! Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.


Sep. 17: Nicholas Herman (Penn): “The Book-Shaped Object in Renaissance Europe”

Sep. 24, 25, 27 - Rosenbach Lectures: Carlo Ginzburg (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa): Fossils, Apes, Humans: A Chapter in the History of Science, Revisited

- Sep. 24: “Paleontology and Connoisseurship”

- Sep. 25: “Gods, Humans, Apes: Art History and Evolution”

- Sep. 27: “Medals and Shells: On Morphology and History, Once Again”

Oct. 1: Whitney Trettien (Penn): “Digital Book History”

Oct. 8: Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (Yale): “Unread: A History of the Book in Colonial South Asia”

Oct. 15: J.M. Duffin (Penn): “Draining the Swamp of Arcane Legal Text: Reclaiming the Geography of Eighteenth Century Philadelphia”

Oct. 22: Katie Chenoweth (Princeton): “Printers’ Devices, or, How French Got Its Accents”

Oct. 29: Sarah Guérin (Penn): “On Ivory, Wax, and Paint: New Insights on Devotional Booklets”

Nov. 5: Margo Natalie Crawford (Penn): “The Textual Production of a Shared Black Edge

Nov. 12: David Norbrook (Oxford): “‘But a copie’: Lucy Hutchinson’s Life in her Texts”

Nov. 19: Samantha Sommers (Ohio State): “Reading in Books”

Nov. 26: TBA

Dec. 3: Mitch Fraas (Penn): “Boilerplate: Documentation, Paperwork, and the Persistence of Form across the Early Modern and Modern Worlds”

Dec. 10: Arthur Kiron (Penn): “Hidden in Plain Sight: Christian Readers of Rabbinic Literature in the Colonial Americas”