Past Sessions

Spring 2021

RBWG & CDH Spring Workshop Series: Cataloguing Roundtable

     Guests: Jennifer Baxmeyer, Assistant University Librarian for Metadata Services

                  Jeff Barton, Cataloger, Cotsen Children’s Library

This bonus round of spring workshopping invites PUL cataloguers and scholars in the humanities to consider ways in which cataloguing practices inform print historical research. Variations in cataloguing standards across institutions and over time, as well as changing assumptions about the scope and applications of cataloguing data, raise questions for archival researchers. Their evolving tools for and approaches to the study of materials in library collections pose new directions for cataloguers, in kind. This workshop aims to open avenues for feedback between scholars and producers of bibliographic data through a collaborative look at sample cataloguing outcomes.

Cutting and Pasting Digital Book History

     Guest: Whitney Trettien, Assistant Professor (English, University of Pennsylvania)

     Co-Sponsor: Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton

This talk walks through several experiments in digital book history, drawn from Professor Trettien’s forthcoming book on radical publishing with scissors and paste in early modern England. The first is a digital edition of a seventeenth-century woman’s commonplace book, made using Digital Mappa. The second is an Omeka-based digital network tracking the source prints and texts pasted into the biblical harmonies made at Little Gidding. The third is a social network visualizing Humphrey Moseley’s publishing circle. As this presentation argues, digital tools bring into relief the creative interventions of long-neglected early modern publishing projects at the fringes of the London book trade.

RBWG & CDH Spring Workshop Series: Part II

Special Collections as Data: From Book Historical Data to Research Projects

     Guest: Sierra Eckert, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Perkins Fellow (CDH)

Book historians and print culture scholars have long been aware of the importance of metadata: information such as provenance, authorship, and copy-specific data about book objects, for scholars of the book, are key to understanding larger questions about the production, reception, and circulation of texts. This workshop is designed to offer a new set of methods for thinking about the data of book history.

In part 2 of this workshop, we will explore the kinds of research questions we can ask of bibliographic data from special collections and learn techniques for exploratory data analysis and visualization. We’ll open the conversation up to think about methods of book history (and how building and conceiving a dataset for experimental research complicates, extends, and offers new directions for those methods). Participants are encouraged to bring their own book historical research data to the workshop––but not required.

RBWG & CDH Spring Workshop Series: Part I 

Special Collections as Data: Studying Print Culture Using Digital Tools                                                                                        

     Guest: Sierra Eckert, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Perkins Fellow (CDH)

Book historians and print culture scholars have long been aware of the importance of metadata: information such as provenance, authorship, and copy-specific data about book objects, for scholars of the book, are key to understanding larger questions about the production, reception, and circulation of texts. This workshop is designed to offer a new set of methods for thinking about the data of book history.

This workshop (part 1 of 2) will provide an introduction for graduate students, faculty, and staff in book history interested in using existing digital repositories (library catalogs, digital projects), to collect, interpret, and visualize bibliographic data for a wide range of book historical materials, including rare books, periodicals, and printed ephemera. We will explore some of the existing methods and tools available for studying material texts in digital repositories and as facsimiles. We will learn the basics of building a book historical dataset, including best practices in understanding special collections source material as data. Finally, we will gain practical experience with the technical and critical steps through a hands-on workshop in generating data from digitized book facsimiles and catalog records. Some of topics we’ll discuss include extracting data from catalog records (like MARC), tools for to clean humanities data (like OpenRefine), and best practices in humanities data management and analysis.

The first of two introductory workshops on digital research methods and practicums in book history during COVID-19. No prior computational experience required.

Why Black Bibliography Matters                                                                                         

     Guests: Kinohi Nishikawa, Associate Professor (English and African American Studies, Princeton)

                   Tim Thompson, Librarian for Applied Metadata Research (Yale)

     Co-Sponsor: Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton

The Yale-Rutgers Black Bibliography Project (BBP) leverages linked open data technologies to encode the intersection of African American studies, descriptive bibliography, rare book cataloging, and emerging standards for modeling bibliographic metadata. Through a collaborative process, it was designed to provide a new framework for exploring and documenting Black print culture, in a way that would be both multidimensional and extensible.

This two-part presentation explores the work of outlining a rationale for Black textual criticism in the twenty-first century within the context of the Black Bibliography Project. The discussion will examine BBP’s methodological grounding in descriptive bibliography and digital humanities and advance an argument for a seemingly paradoxical pursuit: the systematic study of the wide diversity of Black textual production.

Fall 2019

The Lawful Piracy of James Joyce’s Poems

     Guest: Robert Spoo (University of Tulsa College of Law)

     Co-Sponsors: Princeton University Library Special Collections; Bain-Swiggett Fund, Department of English; and the Center for Digital Humanities

     Description: James Joyce was probably the most famously pirated English-language author of the twentieth century. The piracies of Ulysses are notorious, but the first piracy of Joyce in America is virtually unknown. It all began when his early volume of poems, Chamber Music (1907), fell victim to protectionist US copyright laws that stripped many modernists of US copyright.                                                                                                                               Then, in 1917, a Boston publisher calling itself the Cornhill Company announced plans to reprint Chamber Music, without permission. This was a case of lawful piracy: Joyce had no legal remedy. Mostly a vanity press, Cornhill is known today only for publishing certain African-American writers who later became significant voices of the Harlem Renaissance.                                                                                                                                                                          Joyce’s authorized American publisher, B.W. Huebsch, protested Cornhill’s piracy, but to no avail. In contrast to Cornhill, Huebsch had unfailingly treated Joyce’s uncopyrighted writings as if they were protected, and even agreed to pay royalties on sales. Huebsch’s gallantry was an instance of trade courtesy, an old, informal practice employed by American publishers to safeguard their reprint markets and to treat foreign authors fairly.                                  Here, then, is a tale of two American publishers and two publishing traditions: lawful piracy and trade courtesy. Joyce’s poems were caught between the two.

“Gutenberg & After,” Part II, examining fifteenth-century books and fragments excluded from the Fall 2019 Milberg Gallery exhibition and continuing discussion of current curatorial practice.

     Guests: Eric White, Curator of Rare Books, and Paul Needham, Scheide Librarian

Curatorial Tour: “Gutenberg & After,” reflecting on the process of preparing the Fall 2019 Milberg Gallery exhibition while surveying the early history of printing in Europe.

     Guest: Eric White, Curator of Rare Books

The Machines That Made Them: Identifying Twentieth-Century Duplicating Technologies

     Guest: Brian Cassidy, Bookseller

     Co-Sponsors: Princeton University Library and the Department of English

     Description: Despite more than a century of near-ubiquity, duplicated materials remain poorly studied and understood — even among collectors, curators, booksellers, and scholars who frequently handle them. But to misunderstand, for example, what separates a xerox from a mimeograph, or to be unable to distinguish a ditto from a hectograph can have profound implications in our interpretations of books and texts.  This workshop will introduce the various duplicating technologies (from spirit duplication and xerography to electrofax and verifax) and explain their particular characteristics, with examples from typical publications and documents produced by these means. We will also will also differentiate duplication from printing, and begin to discuss some of the bibliographic implications of these technologies.

Spring 2019

Indigenous Studies and Book History, exploring connections between the history of the book and indigenous and settler histories in the Americas as a precursor to the Indigenous/Settler Conference at Princeton.

     Guest: Julia Grummitt (Ph.D. Candidate, History)

     Reading for discussion: Phillip H. Round, “Indigenous Illustration: Native American Artists and Nineteenth-Century US Print Culture,” in American Literary History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 267-89

Fall 2018

Her Book: Recovering Lost or Hidden Aspects of Book History, introducing historical evidence of women’s engagement in book production, reading culture, and book ownership from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century.

Why Pay More?, examining material evidence of various popular genres, marketing strategies, and publishing innovations through which publishers and booksellers hoped to reach (and cultivate) diverse and changing audiences over the centuries.

     Guest: Seth Perry (Assistant Professor, Religion)

Spring 2018

Introduction to Investigations of Print, surveying early book production methods and current approaches to book history, with representative examples of Europe’s earliest printing.

     Reading for discussion: James Mosley, “The Technologies of Print,” in The Book: A Global History (Oxford, 2013), pp. 130-53

Introduction to Bookbindings, overviewing history, identification, and research value of bookbindings.

     Reading for discussion: David Pearson, “Historic Bookbindings: Key Points” and Chapter 1: “The Meaning and Interpretation of Bookbindings,” in English Bookbinding Styles: 1450–1800 (The British Library & Oak Knoll Press, 2005), pp. x-xii, 1-12

RBWG Road Trip to the 58th Annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, featuring book showings and informal discussions with some of the fair’s leading antiquarian booksellers, including Nina Musinsky (New York) and Amanda Hall (England).

Fragmentarium, or, Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Early Bookbindings

     Reading for discussion: Paul Needham, “Fragments in Books: Dutch Prototypography in the Van Ess Library,” in “So Precious a Foundation”: The Library of Leander van Ess, ed. by Milton McC. Gatch (New York: Union Theological Seminary and the Grolier Club, 1996), pp. 85-110