Past Events

2019-2020 BHPC Events Program:

Orientation for Incoming Students
Monday, 16 September 2019, 5:00 – 7:00
Massey College Upper Library

The Eighth Annual J. R. de J. Jackson Lecture
Isabel Hofmeyr (University of the Witwatersrand and New York University)
“Hydrocolonial Print Cultures: Coast, Custom House and Dockside Reading”
Monday, 7 October 2019, 4:15 pm
Victoria College Chapel, 91 Charles St. W, Room VC213
Presented in association with the Friends of the Victoria University Library
Abstract and Biography

What does the oceanic turn mean for our understanding of book and print cultures?  There is of course a long tradition of work on print cultures, port cities and transoceanic networks.  Yet, much of this work takes the ocean as a backdrop, more surface than volumetric depth.  Oceanic scholars have been urging us to go below the water line, to think in more ecological and material terms about the seaness of the sea and how this might be factored into our particular disciplinary concerns.

This paper takes up this challenge by thinking about the literary consequences of the colonial Custom House which assumed responsibility for copyright policy and censorship.  The paper places the Custom House in the context of the ecology of the littoral and the port city, showing how these helped shaped the protocols and procedures of Customs officials and hence the way in which they read and dealt with printed matter.  The work is framed within a larger theoretical rubric, hydrocolonialism.

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. She has worked extensively on the Indian Ocean world and oceanic themes more generally. Recent publications include Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading (2013) and a special issue of Comparative Literature (2016) on ‘Oceanic Routes’ co-edited with Kerry Bystrom.  She heads a project called Oceanic Humanities for the Global South with partners from Mozambique, Mauritius, India, Jamaica and Barbados.

Roundtable on Publishing in Book History and Archival Studies
Friday, 25 October 2019, 2:00-4:00 pm
Faculty of Information, Bissell Building, room 728

This roundtable will help students and junior scholars navigate the world of publishing in archival studies, book history, and other connected fields. There will be plenty of time for discussion, so bring your questions!

Roundtable speakers:

Claire Battershill, co-editor of Virginia Woolf and the World of Books (Liverpool UP, 2018), co-curator of the travelling exhibition Make Believe: The Secret Library of M. Prud’homme—A Rare Collection of Fakes

Yuri Cowan, co-editor of Book History, founding editor of the open-access journal Authorship, guest editor of Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture

Fiorella Foscarini, general editor of Archivaria, co-editor of Engaging with Records and Archives (Facet, 2016)

Leslie Howsam, editor of the Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book (Cambridge, 2014) and co-editor of Books between Europe and the Americas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

Heather MacNeil, past general editor of Archivaria, co-editor of Currents of Archival Thinking (ABC-CLIO, 2017)

Seminar on the Personal Library of a European Polymath: The Gros Collection and the University of Toronto
Friday, 1 November 2019, 9:30 – noon
McLean-Hunter Room, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Co-sponsored by the Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies

Professor François Gros, who retired as the Director of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, Pondicherry, India is one of the leading doyens of Tamil Studies worldwide. In the course of what might be described as a 19th century scholarly career which moved from anthropology to the study of Southeast Asia and then South Asia he amassed an extraordinary collection of rare works on South India and its reception in France. The core of his library, housed originally at the Rue François Gros in Lyon, France is an irreplaceable collection of rare and priceless works in Tamil, consisting of dictionaries, religious works, fiction, ethnographic accounts, the catalogues of private collections etc. In 2017 he generously donated this core collection of about 9000 works to the University of Toronto, where it is currently being catalogued and digitized in a project jointly headed by Lana Soglasnova and Srilata Raman. In this seminar we hope to share some of the treasures of this collection with you.


The presenters of this collection will include:
Srilata Raman, Associate Professor of Hinduism, Department of Religion, University of Toronto. Srilata works on Tamil religion, and particularly its intellectual history between the 11-14th and 17th-19th centuries, respectively.
Prakash Venkatesan, Senior Research Fellow, French Institute, Pondicherry. Prakash specializes in Classical Tamil literature. He did the preliminary cataloguing of the Gros Collection for the University of Toronto.
Muthukrishnan Kannan, Director of the Contemporary Tamil Studies Programme at the French Institute, Pondicherry. He is a close associate of Professor Gros and an expert on the collection.

Monday, 9 December 2019, 5:00 – 7:00
Upper Library, Massey College

Kristina Rogahn, “Describing the Tamil Songbook (Taṉippāṭal Tiraṭṭu) Archive”
Louis Reed-Wood, “It’s Only a Paper Republic: Envisioning Statehood in Fenian Media, 1863-1870”
Hannah Cooley, “The Ojibwe Cultural Foundation Digital Community Newsletter Project”

Digital Transcribe-a-Thon
Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
McLean-Hunter Room, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

[CANCELLED] 2020 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium
Ghostly Voices: Textual Echoes, Ephemera, and Absences
Saturday, 28 March 2020
Upper Library, Massey College

This event has been cancelled in accordance with the University of Toronto’s response to COVID-19.

[CANCELLED] The First Annual BHPC-TPL Lecture
Sarah Werner, author of Studying Early Printed Books 1450–1800: a Practical Guide
Monday, 6 April 2020, 6:15 pm
Beeton Hall, main floor, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street
Presented in partnership with Toronto Public Libraries Special Collections


Sarah Werner is the author of Studying Early Printed Books 1450‑1800: A Practical Guide (Wiley 2019) and the companion site She has also written numerous articles on book history, digital tools, and library outreach, including “Book History and Digital Scholarship” (with Matthew Kirschenbaum) in Book History and “Working Towards a Feminist Printing History” (forthcoming from Print History). Dr Werner’s earlier scholarship focused on Shakespeare and modern performance, and her book Shakespeare and Feminist Performance: Ideology on Stage (Routledge 2001) is still taught and cited by scholars. She worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library for nearly a decade as Undergraduate Program Director and as Digital Media Strategist, and is now a consultant working with special collections libraries to encourage teaching and collaboration with students and faculty using rare materials.

This event has been cancelled in accordance with the University of Toronto’s response to COVID-19.

BHPC Events from 2019 and prior:

“Mad, Bad, and Dangerous Texts: Controversies in Reading, Writing, Editing, and Printing,” 2019 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 23 March 2019, Massey College, University of Toronto

Digital Transcribe-a-Thon: Early Modern Recipe Manuscripts from the Folger Collections
Fisher Library, 4 October 2018
In association with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Early Modern Manuscripts Online Project
(open to students in all participating BHPC programs; advance registration is required but free of charge)

“Books Beyond Reading,” 2018 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 10 March 2018, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Form, Function, Intent: Materiality and the Codification of Knowledge,” 2017 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 11 March 2017, Massey College, University of Toronto

“From Reinforcement to Resistance: Books as Cultural Agents and (De)Colonial Agents,” 2016 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 4 – 5 March 2016, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Off the Books: Making, Breaking, Binding, Burning, Leaving, Gathering,” 4th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, 9 – 11 October 2015, University of Toronto

“On the Fringes (and in the Margins),” 2015 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 27 – 28 March 2015, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Toronto and the Book,” 2014 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 28 – 29 March 2014, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Emerging Trends in Book History and Print Culture Studies Colloquium,” 2013 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium (in association with the Groupe de recherches et d’études sur le livre au Québec, Université de Sherbrooke), 5 – 6 April 2013, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Editing Early African American Literature,” 48th Conference on Editorial Problems, 9 – 10 November 2012, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

“E-reading: an Interdisciplinary Symposium,” 2012 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 31 March 2012, Massey College, University of Toronto

“Illustrating Illustration: Towards a Graphic Criticism,” 2011 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium, 12 February 2011, Massey College, University of Toronto

“New Materialities: Recycling, Reusing, and Reediting Texts,” 27 February 2010, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“Wenceslaus Hollar and Early Modern Print Culture,” a one-day conference, 27 January 2010, Massey College, University of Toronto (and exhibition, 25 January – 30 April 2010, Fisher Library, University of Toronto)

“Manuscripts and the Forms of Middle English Literary Texts,” 45th Conference on Editorial Problems, 6 – 8 November 2009, St Michael’s College and the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

“Tradition & Innovation: The State of Book History,” 23 – 27 June 2009, Toronto, the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP)

Oldest Book Printed in the Philippines Presented at Library of Congress by Faculty of Information and BHPC doctoral student Von TotanesJune 2009, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

BHPC Movie Night EEBO / ECCO Colouring ContestFebruary 2009, Toronto, Massey College

“Editing New France / Éditer la Nouvelle France,” 44th Conference on Editorial Problems, November 2008, Victoria College, University of Toronto

“Print Crossing Cultures,” 9 February 2008, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

The Return of Keats’s ShakespeareJanuary 2008, Toronto, Massey College

“Popularity and the Book,” 22 March 2007, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“New Directions in Reception Studies,” 3 May 2006, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“Creativity and the Law,” 21 January 2006, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“The Historiography of Reading: Theories, Methods, Documents,” 7 March 2005, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“Material Worlds: At the Intersections of Print and Material Cultures,” 24 April 2004, Toronto, Graduate Student Colloquium

“New Scholarship in Book History and Print Culture: An Interdisciplinary Conference,” 11 – 12 October 2002, Toronto, the inaugural Graduate Student Colloquium (resulted in a special issue of University of Toronto Quarterly 73.4 [Fall 2004])

“The Conference on Editorial Problems,” University of Toronto, an annual conference devoted to editorial theory and practice, covering a wide range of disciplines, topics, and genres

“Book History and Print Culture Exhibition,” 1 March – 25 May 2001, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, to commemorate the founding of the Collaborative Program in Book History and Print Culture in September 2000