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DepositToward Critical Book History

This paper considers the prospect of a “critical book history” that blends critical theory with studies of the book as a material and cultural object. This concept parallels similar efforts in the digital humanities for a critically engaged digital practice, as explored in a 2018 American Quarterly special issue, the #transformdh movement, and Debates in the Digital Humanities. Critical digital humanities argues “that theory can be engaged through practice, that scholarship should be open and accessible to all, and that collaboration is pivotal” (American Quarterly 70.3). This presentation suggests that similar pushes in book history would create a productive dialogue between book history work, the digital humanities, critical theory, and public humanities. I explore: what would be the goal of a critical book history? What changes would be required in how we think about and practice our discipline? And most excitingly, what new inspiration does this provide for studies of materiality and cultural history; political praxis; theoretically informed work on race, ethnicity, gender, and class; technological methodologies that engage with the past and explore the future; and a reflexivity on the limitations of our historical narratives and practices.

DepositPlaying Around with Book History: Codex Conquest and Mark

Students learn more when they play—while the value of play often is emphasized only for those early in their education, play has a role in higher education as well. To teach book history across time and space, I developed two card games: Codex Conquest (http://codexconquest.lib.uiowa.edu/) and Mark (under development: https://humangames.lab.uiowa.edu/). Codex Conquest allows students to recognize the most important books of Western civilization by their nation, century, genre, and current monetary value. Along the way, students learn European history and the scenarios that influence the shape of institutional collections. Mark introduces students to the hallmarks of early modern visual culture by allowing them to play a variety of games with a single deck of cards comprised of printer’s marks (devices). As open educational resources (OERs), both games can be downloaded for free from their respective websites and used as is or changed to suit an instructor’s objectives. As supplemental curricula, both games can be played in a single class period. These games are a new direction in digital humanities. Book history digital humanities often considers the value and qualities of digital editions and facsimiles or focuses attention on annotation or other approaches to scholarly editing. However, this talk offers something new: it proposes book history digital humanities should expand to consider the possibilities offered by game design.

DepositVibrant Material Textuality: New Materialism, Book History, and the Archive in Paper

I look to the ways material text studies might be prompted by, and improve upon, thinking in new materialism. The result is that paper could be read for how histories and narratives seep into the paper record and require accounts of agentic materiality lest they be lost or muted. In what follows, I use stories about rag paper as points of departure for thinking about the material turn in both contemporary theoretical discourse and book history together. Both, I think, attempt to understand the meanings and effects of material actors. Taken together, however, they can provide greater insight into the meanings of texts as objects, and a more complete sense of what is in our archives. Finally, I argue that book history’s disciplinary habits of moving between a text’s material presence, or bibliographic code, and its linguistic code, might provide a model for literary critics pondering current theoretical work in new materialism and the agency of things.

DepositTeaching Book History through Card Games: Codex Conquest and Mark

Teaching Book History through Card Games: Codex Conquest and Mark Amy Hildreth Chen, English and American Literature Librarian, University of Iowa Students learn more when they play—while the value of play often is emphasized only for those early in their education, play has a role in higher education as well. To teach book history across time and space, I developed two card games: Codex Conquest and Mark. Codex Conquest allows students to recognize the most important books of Western civilization by their nation, century, genre, and current monetary value. Along the way, students learn European history and the scenarios that influence the shape of institutional collections. Mark introduces students to the hallmarks of early modern visual culture by allowing them to play a variety of games with a single deck of cards comprised of printer’s marks (devices). As open educational resources (OERs), both games can be downloaded for free from their respective websites and used as is or changed to suit an instructor’s objectives. As supplemental curricula, both games can be played in a single class period. In my interactive poster section, I will bring a computer to show different digitized copies of the books represented in my games. Then, I will have my game cards available beside them to show how I translate this information. The poster will have curricular examples ranging from short response prompts to digital humanities projects that can help viewers think about the possibilities of using games in their courses. Those with particular interest in the topic will be invited to play—or to collaborate on booster packs! Website for Human Games (Amy Chen’s game lab): https://humangames.lab.uiowa.edu/ Website for Codex Conquest: http://codexconquest.lib.uiowa.edu/

DepositExpanding Access: Feminist Scholarship and the Women in Book History Bibliography

Inspired by my work on the Women in Book History Bibliography, this presentation takes a different angle on discussions of women’s texts in digital archives. The WBHB collects secondary sources on women’s writing and labor over a broad range of languages, subjects, geographic locations, and time periods. Because we collect secondary sources, we do not quite fit into the community of digital archives that collect and present women’s texts. Yet, we are intricately connected to these resources; we face comparable challenges of funding and longevity, appeal to similar audiences, and ultimately share a philosophy of increased access and scholarship on the same set of texts. This presentation outlines the bibliographic connection between databases of primary sources on women’s writing and secondary-source databases like the WBHB. I conclude that such projects go beyond forwarding feminist scholarship and in face preserve it.