Past Sessions

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