Assistant Professor of English
Whitney Trettien researches the history of the book and other text technologies from print to digital. Her work is invested in exploring the past to better understand our present media environment.
Her first book, Cut/Copy/Paste (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), journeys to the fringes of the London print trade to uncover makerspaces and collaboratories where paper media were cut up and reassembled into radical, bespoke publications. Bringing these long-forgotten objects back to life through hand-curated digital resources, Trettien shows how early experimental book hacks speak to the contemporary conditions of digital scholarship and publishing. The project is also itself an experiment in digital publishing, existing as both a print book and an open access edition staged on Manifold Scholarship, where the text has been enriched with images, datasets, and other digital assets. Cut/Copy/Paste was written with the support of an NEH-Mellon Fellowship for Digital Publishing, an NEH Open Book fellowship, and the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at Penn.
Trettien is currently working on a second book that traces early histories of computing, with a special focus on how printing technologies crucially contributed to the development of digital textuality. Other work has been published in PMLA, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and postmedieval, as well as numerous book chapters in edited collections. Forthcoming work will appear in PBSA, Scholarly Editing, Shakespeare Quarterly, and Textual Cultures.
Much of Trettien's work involves collaboratively designing and building digital editions, publications, and tools for studying the history of the book. With student research assistants, she has built a digital network of the Little Gidding harmonies, as well as the commonplace book of a seventeenth-century woman, Susanna Collet. She has also built a dataset and social network to examine the important early modern printer Humphrey Moseley. With Liza Daly and Dot Porter, she has worked on Manicule, an open source platform for building digital exhibits with books. And she is the co-editor and co-designer of thresholds, an occasional digital zine for creative/critical interventions. The digital project Provoke!, a web-based collection of sonic scholarship, resulted in Digital Sound Studies (Duke University Press, 2018), co-edited with Mary Caton Lingold and Darren Mueller.
Trettien is affiliated faculty in Cinema & Media Studies, the Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies program, and Comparative Literature & Literary Theory. In her spare time, she volunteers on the board of the local printshop and zine library, The Soapbox.