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The 2023 New Scholars

The Bibliographical Society of America’s New Scholars Program promotes the work of scholars new to bibliography, broadly defined to include the creation, production, publication, distribution, reception, transmission, and subsequent history of all textual artifacts. This includes manuscript, print, and digital media, from clay and stone to laptops and iPads.

New Scholars present fifteen-minute talks on their current, unpublished bibliographical research during the program preceding the Society’s Annual Meeting, held each January during Bibliography Week. The 2023 New Scholars will also present their papers in virtual pre-screening sessions followed by question and answer periods on January 18, 19, and 20.

Learn more about Bibliography Week and register to attend. All events are free and open to the public with required registration.

BSA New Scholar

Seamus Dwyer is a sixth-year PhD candidate in English at Yale University. His research interests revolve around the literary affordances and cultural meanings of scripts in medieval literary manuscripts.

Bastard Hands, Medieval Commodities, and Reading Medieval Manuscripts
In contrast to the politely, bookishly Latinate script terms like anglicana, textura, or hybrida that define paleographical practice, “bastard” stands out. This talk delves into the reasons for this term’s use by medieval scribes. Medieval texts describe a range of commodities, from swords to wine to dishes, as “bastard” Dwyer argues that the term gestures less to adulterated or degraded products and more to processes of making that are streamlined but still aspire to refinement. Dwyer then reads this concept of “bastard” into the scripts of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis, many of which exhibit “bastard” qualities that resonate with its hybrid, bilingual poetics.

Register to attend Seamus Dwyer’s pre-screening session on January 18 at 7pm Eastern. The session will be moderated by Agnieszka Rec (Yale University).

Malkin New Scholar

Mara Frazier is Assistant Professor and Curator of Dance at The Ohio State University Libraries, Thompson Special Collections, Lawrence Lee Theatre Research Institute. Her research examines relationships between movement and text in practices of reading, writing and performance, particularly in the history of 20th century dance notation. She has staged dance works by George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Anna Sokolow from notation and reconstructed a mass movement choir by Albrecht Knust. She has an MFA in Dance Directing and Documentation and a BFA in Dance from Ohio State and serves as U.S. Treasurer for the International Council of Kinetography Laban.

The Dance Typewriter: IBM, the Labanotation Element, and ‘Women’s Work’ in 1973
In 1973, IBM released a dance typeball for its Selectric typewriter that promised to mechanize transcription of dance. The typeball applied symbols from Labanotation, a graphic documentation system for movement. Though the dance typewriter was a flop, the history of its development and marketing uncovers assumptions about the relationship between movement, language, and gendered work. Assuming that they could adapt typing technology to dance notation, the typeball’s creators misconstrued dance and typing as analogous to words and written language. Altogether, the history of the dance notation typeball revealed an underestimation of the discursive capacity of the dancing, laboring female body.

Register to attend Mara Frazier’s pre-screening session on January 20 at 7pm Eastern. The session will be moderated by Meghan Constantinou (Simmons University).

Pantzer New Scholar

Rachelle Grossman is a specialist in Yiddish literature and print culture. She is completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard University where her dissertation focuses on postwar publishing in Poland and Latin America. She examines the production and global circulation of Yiddish books to understand tensions arising between local and transnational print contexts. In addition, her research on the Yiddish Book Center’s rare type and printing collection will be featured in their new core exhibit, “Yiddish: A Global Culture.” Recently, she was awarded Harvard’s Philip Hofer Prize from the Houghton Rare Books Library for own collection of Yiddish books printed in communist Poland.

Dirty Slugs and Flimsy Paper: What a Page Can Teach Us about Yiddish Printing in Postwar Poland
Rachelle Grossman’s paper demonstrates the weighty significance of Yiddish publishing in postwar Poland. Publishing not only required access to capital and materials (printers, paper, and ink), but also to Yiddish metal type, which was incredibly difficult to attain. In spite of everything, the Yiddish newspaper Dos naye lebn published its first issue in April 1945 and its first books in 1947. This paper examines the labor that went into producing these printed works through a material analysis of documents: print traces on pages, paper quality and size, as well as binding, supplemented by archival documents and memoir accounts by Jewish survivors and refugees tasked with cultural reconstruction after the Holocaust. Her analysis will focus on three main subjects: the political factors both local and international that enabled printing and censored it; the presence or lack of skilled labor to run linotypes and printing machines; and the availability of paper and the ephemeral quality of cheap and flimsy pages. In looking at these factors, this paper aims to think beyond the literal narratives contained within Yiddish pages by focusing on how their material qualities aid our understanding of the stories they tell.

Register to attend Rachelle Grossman’s’s pre-screening session on January 19 at 7pm Eastern. The session will be moderated by Kinohi Nishikawa (Princeton University).