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October 2015

The Fourth Annual J. R. de J. Jackson Lecture: Johanna Drucker (UCLA), “Analogue and Digital Histories of the Alphabet”

Thursday, October 8, 2015 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Faculty of Information (Room 728),
140 St. George Street
Toronto, M5S 3G6
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In association with the Faculty of Information. Who knew what when about the origin and development of the alphabet? Answers to this question take us into a history of bibliographical antiquities, paleographical investigation, and graphical modes of knowledge transmission. The various “histories” that emerge from this record have distinct chronological foundations that embody belief systems about the age of the earth and the human record that have changed over time. Examining the analogue evidence of textual and visual information, as…

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February 2016

Jennifer Graber (UT Austin), “‘Zotom Is Busy Drawing a Book’: Reading Religion in Plains Indian Ledger Notebooks”

Thursday, February 4, 2016 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Jackman Humanities Building (Room 100a),
170 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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In Association with the Master of Museum Studies Program (Faculty of Information) and the Department for the Study of Religion Historians of American Indian history have long struggled with the question of sources. Throughout the nineteenth century, many native societies on the Great Plains had neither scripted forms of their own languages nor many members literate in English. As a result, scholars dependent on traditional documentary sources have had few options for eliciting native perspectives on dramatic changes in their…

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March 2016

Will Slauter (Univ. Paris Diderot – Institut universitaire de France), “Who Owns the News? Journalism and Intellectual Property in Historical Perspective”

Thursday, March 3, 2016 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Victoria College: Alumni Hall (VC112),
91 Charles Street W.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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In Association with the Centre for Innovation Law and Policy (Faculty of Law) and the Friends of the Victoria University Library Concerns about the piracy of news go back at least to the seventeenth century, when complaints involved counterfeit ballads hawked on the streets rather than articles reposted on the Internet. But with respect to copyright law, news publications—whatever their material form—have followed an unusual trajectory. This lecture will draw on a range of news publications (including broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers,…

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Alan Galey (UofT), “Bibliography for a Used Future — Finding the Human Presence in E-Books and Other Digital Artifacts”

Thursday, March 24, 2016 @ 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Faculty of Information (Room 728),
140 St. George Street
Toronto, M5S 3G6
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This presentation argues the case for bibliography and book history as disciplines uniquely equipped to recover the signs of human presence in digital artifacts—those humanizing dings, paint scratches, and coffee rings, as it were, that ground new technologies within human timescales and experiential worlds. The past several years have seen remarkable growth in textual scholarship that does not merely apply digital tools to the study of texts, but takes digital textuality itself as the object of study. Matthew Kirschenbaum is…

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September 2016

The Fifth Annual J. R. de J. Jackson Lecture: James Raven (University of Essex / Magdalene College, Cambridge), “How Can There Be a History of the Book? A History of Book History”

Thursday, September 29, 2016 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Victoria College Chapel (VC213),
91 Charles Street W.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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In association with the Friends of the Victoria University Library For some contributors to the history of the book, the subject appears bounded and specific, for others it is more indefinite, more a label than a discipline. This lecture explores how these differences relate to parent disciplines and the training of respective contributors from literary, historical, bibliographical, codicological, digital, library and conservation studies. In ways akin to the elision between  ‘the history of art’ and ‘art history,’ there are in…

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November 2016

Robert Spoo (University of Tulsa College of Law), “International Authors’ Rights and the Uncoordinated Public Domain”

Thursday, November 3, 2016 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Faculty of Law (Room J140),
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5 Canada
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In association with the Centre for Innovation Law and Policy (Faculty of Law) When nations amend their copyright laws in response to calls for international harmonization, they usually do so by expanding authors' rights without also seeking to harmonize national public domains.  Divergent laws have resulted in an uncoordinated global public domain that renders authors' works freely available for use in some countries while subjecting them to copyright or moral-rights protection in others.  The problem of the patchwork global commons,…

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January 2017

Leslie Howsam (University of Windsor), “Inverting Interdisciplinarity: Who will take book history to the next level?”

Thursday, January 19 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Faculty of Information (Room 728),
140 St. George Street
Toronto, M5S 3G6
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In association with the Faculty of Information Robert Darnton famously worried that book history might lead to “interdisciplinarity run riot.” Perhaps instead the time has come to turn it inside out. In my 2006 Old Books & New Histories I called for mutual respect among the three core disciplines. Each scholar asks questions grounded in the field(s) of study where their intellectual formation happened. This paper aims to go beyond the existing practitioners of the “interdiscipline” we call book history…

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March 2017

Natalie Davis (University of Toronto), “Experiencing Exclusion: Book History after Inquisition”

Thursday, March 23 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Upper Library, Massey College,
4 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E1 Canada
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In this informal talk, Natalie Davis will describe the impact of the Red Hunt in the United States in the 1950s on her own scholarship as a graduate student and beginning historian, especially its effect on her work on book history in early modern France.  She will also look at some other historians similarly affected by the experience of political persecution and see what consequences it had for their historical writing.  How did we cope with censorship? Natalie Zemon Davis…

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September 2017

The Sixth Annual J. R. de J. Jackson Lecture: Lisa Gitelman (New York University), “On Not Reading”

Thursday, September 28 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Faculty of Information (Room 728),
140 St. George Street
Toronto, M5S 3G6
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In association with the Faculty of Information and the Department of English Reading is said to be “at risk” in the 21st Century, presumably because of the digitally mediated environment amid which we browse, multitask, and, well, read. Predictions of doom follow from the decline of reading, although there’s very little consensus about what reading is, what its particular virtues are, or how best to find out. This talk won’t solve these problems. Instead it seeks to sketch the present…

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November 2017

Jessica Brantley (Yale University), “The Late Medieval Book of Hours and the Idea of the Literary”

Thursday, November 2 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
Victoria College Chapel (VC213),
91 Charles Street W.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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In association with the Friends of the Victoria University Library More books of hours remain in modern libraries than any other kind of book from late medieval England:  almost eight hundred manuscript volumes, and many thousands of printed ones.  From Europe at large the number of manuscripts alone has been estimated at around ten thousand.  Their survival rate suggests (though of course it does not prove) that these books were very widely read, and even that a late medieval reader…

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Upcoming Events

  1. Alexandra Gillespie (University of Toronto), “What Was the Cost of Books in Chaucer’s Time?”

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
  2. Jonathan Senchyne (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Slavery and the History of the Book in America”

    Thursday, March 1, 2018 @ 4:15 PM - 6:00 PM
  3. 2018 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium

    Saturday, March 10, 2018 @ 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  4. Annual General Meeting

    Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

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