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Bibliography Week 2021

Monday, January 25

3-4 PM EST – Both/And: Bibliography in Action

Sponsored by Hindman Auctions and Pirages Fine Books & Manuscripts

Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (1773) – Click to register
Moderator: Jonathan Senchyne, Associate Professor & Director, Center For The History Of Print And Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

With the London publication of Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral in 1773, Phillis Wheatley Peters (c. 1753 – 1784) became the first African American to publish a book of poetry, and one of only three African American writers known to have done so while enslaved. The material textual contexts of the book, including its paratexts, iconic engraving of the author, surviving manuscripts, circulation within early Black networks, and place within early African American uses of print, make it essential to the understanding of American print culture, Black art, and American letters. 

Object: The Menil Collection copy of Poems on Various Subjects by Phyllis Wheatley. London: A. Bell, 1773.

Ashley Cataldo, Curator of Manuscripts, American Antiquarian Society
Brigitte Fielder, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, poet and Professor at the University of Oklahoma

Tuesday, January 26

3-4 PM EST – Both/And: Bibliography in Action

Sponsored by viaLibri and Getman’s Virtual Book Fairs

The Zamorano Press and Printing in Mexican California – Click to Register

Moderator: Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Professor of Literature, University of California Santa Cruz

Object: The Newberry Library copy of Jose Figueroa, Manifiesto a la Republica Mejicana que hace el general de brigada Jose Figueroa. Monterrey Calif. : Agustin V. Zamorano, 1835. See also the Bancroft Library copy, and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León copy.

What do print histories of the U.S. look like when seen from the nation’s Pacific edge? This panel explores that question through the lens of the first print shop established in California. Agustín Zamorano imported a Ramage press from Boston to Monterey, the provincial capital, in 1834. Although Zamorano left California a few years later, anonymous printers continued to use the press throughout the following decade to produce Spanish-language broadsides, tracts, and textbooks. Later, the same equipment produced the state’s first newspaper, the bilingual Californian, before being transported to the gold fields. Early twentieth-century bibliophiles recognized this pre-statehood print tradition in the name of the Zamorano Club, which established a canon of rare Californiana as the “Zamorano 80.” The complex relationships between private and library collectors come to light in the story of the most ambitious and significant product of the Zamorano Press: the Manifiesto a la Republica Mejicana (1834), a 186-page book defending the actions taken by governor José Figueroa against a group of insurgent colonists. 

This panel will demonstrate how narrowly monolingual and national frameworks have generated incomplete and misleading bibliographical records about this imprint and its dissemination outside California. Expanding outward from this example, it suggests how the tools of analytical bibliography can create more inclusive narratives of national belonging that acknowledge the longstanding presence of Latina/o/x people within its borders.

Gerald W. Cloud, antiquarian bookseller and bibliographer
Gary F. Kurutz, CalRBS & the California State Library Director (retired)
Theresa Salazar, Curator of Western Americana, the Bancroft Library

5:30-6:30 PM EST – Code of Conduct Info Session: Meet our Consultant Ombudsperson –– POSTPONED

Update: 22 January 2021
Due to the illness of the BSA Executive Director this event will be postponed to a later date. Registrants will receive an email notification on Monday, January 25th. Thank you for your patience and undertsanding.

All presenters and attendees for all BSA events – including those schedule for Bibliography Week – are required to abide by the terms set forth in the Society’s Events Code of Conduct. The BSA also retains a consultant to serve as a confidential resource on violations of this code of conduct. Any person who is subjected to, or notices that someone else is being subjected to, behavior that violates our code of conduct may report the incident to the consultant, Sherry Marts, who can be reached at or on ‭(202) 670-7746 and will be on call all week.

Wednesday, January 27

3-4 PM EST – Both/And: Bibliography in Action

Sponsored by the CABS-Minnesota

A Picture of Slavery for Youth: Creating Young Abolitionists – Click to register

Moderator: Dorothy J. Berry, Digital Collections Program Manager, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Object: The Houghton Library copy of A Picture of Slavery, For Youth by Jonathan Walker. Boston: J. Walker and W.R. Bliss, [184-?].

This roundtable will explore the creation and propagation of abolitionist material directed at children, through the copy of Jonathan Walker’s A Picture of Slavery for Youth donated to Harvard University by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. The 1840s were a time of heavy abolitionist publishing, with directed entreaties to specific religious groups, to businesspeople, to upper-class women, and perhaps most surprisingly, to children. By exploring this text through  ethno-bibliographical and socio-historical lenses, we will work to gain a clearer understanding of the ways that juvenile abolitionist texts played a role in shaping the cause of freedom. Participants will respond to questions contextualizing the world of abolitionist publications for children and how design and textual decisions were made with the goal of moral inculcation.

Krystal Appiah, Instruction Librarian, Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia
Jesse Erickson, Assistant Professor, Department of English & Coordinator of Special Collections and Digital Humanities, University of Delaware
Deborah De Rosa, Associate Professor of English, Northern Illinois University

5:30-6:30pm EST – Publishing in PBSA: Ask the Editors

Sponsored by the University of Chicago Press Journals Division

Register here.

Please join Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America editor David Gants and book reviews editor Meaghan Brown for a special online Q&A session on January 27. This is your chance to ask questions about the process of submitting work for consideration for publication in PBSA and about becoming a PBSA book reviewer. While the discussion will be guided by the questions you ask, the editors can answer queries such as:

What kinds of articles are you looking for right now?
What is a bibliographical note?
What is the peer review process like? How long does it take?
Does everyone who submits an article receive a response from an editor?
Do I need to have image permissions before I submit my article?
What types of books can I review?
How does a reviewer get matched with a book?

In addition, Gants and Brown will be available to provide valuable insight into submitting to journals in book history more broadly. This special online session will be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m. EST and will be recorded for future viewing. Registration is required and free of charge.

Register here.

Thursday, January 28

3-4:30 PM EST – Both/And: Bibliography in Action

Sponsored by the Seminario Interdisciplinario de Bibliología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Bibliographical Legacies: Reproduction & the Mesoamerican Book – Click to register

Moderator: Alex Hidalgo, Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Texas Christian University

Objects: See description below for title and links.

The Mesoamerican book inhabits multiple bibliographical spaces that defy simple descriptions and straightforward categorization.  Media made from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries where Indigenous poets, priests, historians, intellectuals, translators, and artists stored and transmitted knowledge in pictorial and alphabetic formats, Mesoamerican books lived on in new editions tied to narratives of empire and state formation that decontextualized their original use to fulfill political or religious agendas. Participants will analyze a range of reproductions that include: the silencing of Mesoamerican scribal traditions and the invention of colonial ignorance in Alexander von Humboldt’s thirty-two volume, Le voyage aux régions equinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, fait en 1799–1804; Mexican print technologies that repurposed Mesoamerican books in works such as Vicente Riva Palacio’s Mexico a través de los siglos (1882); the postcolonial life of the Pintura del gobernador, alcaldes y regidores de México that outlined abuses by Spanish authorities; and the Florentine Codex Initiative, an interactive digital platform that examines a sixteenth-century Mexican manuscript produced collaboratively by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún and a team of Nahua authors and artists.  

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
Dominique Polanco, Research Associate, Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech
Kim N. Richter, Senior Research Specialist, Getty Research Institute
Corinna Zeltsman, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Georgia Southern University

Friday, January 29

2pm EST – The 2021 New Scholars Program

Sponsored by Les Enluminures.

In the virtual setting, attendees will choose to join one of our three New Scholars for a presentation of their 15-minute paper, followed by a focused Q&A with that Scholar in an individual breakout room. After the individual presentations, all attendees and Scholars will reconvene for a general Q&A and a discussion of what it’s like to be an emerging scholar working on bibliography in the present moment.

Register here for the 2021 Annual Meeting & New Scholars Program. We can accommodate 1,000 virtual attendees, and we hope that all those who wish to join will be able to do so. By registering early, you will receive reminders about the event and login instructions delivered to your inbox.

  • Mathieu D.S. Bouchard, Pantzer New Scholar
    A Revised Account of the 1714 Works of Mr. William Shakespear
    This talk examines a crucial episode in the history of Shakespearean textual transmission. In 1709, the London bookseller Jacob Tonson hired Nicholas Rowe to edit the first eighteenth-century edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Rowe based the text of his plays on a copy of the 1685 fourth folio edition of Shakespeare’s works. In 1714, Tonson published another edition of Shakespeare’s plays, again ostensibly edited by Rowe. This edition is generally considered to have been a simple reprint of the 1709 edition, but, as this paper argues, the edition of 1714 was in fact the product of significant new editorial labour. The editor of 1714 made a series of edits that were based on his collation of the second Shakespeare folio of 1632. This new bibliographical evidence indicates that, although Rowe’s name appeared on the title page of the 1714 edition, he was probably not responsible for the changes made to the edition. The text was probably prepared, anonymously, by a writer named John Hughes. Scholars have long suspected that Rowe’s involvement in the 1714 edition of Shakespeare’s Works was minimal, yet this hypothesis has, until now, rested on minimal documentary evidence. This paper contributes new bibliographical evidence to the debate about Hughes and Rowe, and it also raises larger questions about anonymity and the important role of unnamed editorial agents in the transmission of canonical texts.
  • Dr. Sophia Brown, Malkin New Scholar
    Paratexts and Prize Culture: A Case Study of Contemporary Arab Writing in the Anglophone Market
    Arab authors seeking an Anglophone readership must negotiate a Eurocentric publishing industry that routinely views literary texts through an ethnographic – and often reductive – lens. My paper explores this through a case study of Raja Shehadeh, an author and  human rights lawyer, who is best known for Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape (2007), which won the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. Since Edward Said’s death in 2003, Shehadeh has arguably become the most prominent Palestinian voice in the Anglophone context. The paper examines the influence of the Orwell Prize on Shehadeh’s career by scrutinising how he is presented to an Anglophone readership. It considers a broad range of bibliographical evidence: the packaging of the different editions of the book, press coverage, interviews, reviews, and statements by the Orwell Prize committee. Shehadeh strives to make his work accessible, while also urging his non-Palestinian readership to question prevailing narratives about Palestine and the Middle East. In what ways, then, do paratextual materials acknowledge these distinct objectives? Despite Shehadeh’s award for political writing, the paper argues that this politics is rendered somewhat abstract. Shehadeh’s humanity and, more problematically, his civility and dignity are consistently emphasized, with his work located within a limiting metropolitan vocabulary of literature and the conflict. Shehadeh’s work variously complies with and resists this framing, and consequently the paper asks what his success reveals about Anglophone perceptions of Palestinian and wider Arab writing.
  • Ryan Low, BSA New Scholar
    Community of the Written Word: The Spread of Notarial Registers in Medieval Provence
    Extant registers of contracts from medieval Provence number over a million.  The scores of medieval contracts bound together in notarial registers bring to mind “modernizing” forces such as commercialization, legalism, and mass communication. While the story of such books in urban centers is well known, what happened when these books of practice reached the rural periphery is less well understood. In a series of comparisons between rural and urban notarial registers, I’ll demonstrate surprising visual, material, and legal differences between these two worlds. This raises a larger question of how notarial registers illustrate how individual communities adapted contracts – and the obligations and trust that attended them – to their own needs and realities. 

There will be a brief intermission between the New Scholars Program and the Annual Meeting.

3:30pm EST – The Annual Meeting

Keynote Lecture Sponsored by Christie’s

Folio Sponsors of the Annual Meeting:
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of AmericaThe Brick Row Book Shop •  Thomas A Goldwasser Rare BooksLux Mentis, BooksellersMusinsky Rare Books, Inc.

Quarto Sponsors of the Annual Meeting:
Austin Abbey Rare BooksDe Simone Company, BooksellerBruce McKittrick Rare BooksKate Mitas, BooksellerPenn PressRare Book School • Richard C. Ramer, Old & Rare BooksThe Society of Fellows in Critical BibliographyUniversity of Chicago Press Journals Division Charles B. Wood Antiquarian Bookseller


  • Welcome, BSA President Barbara A. Shailor
  • Keynote Lecture: Derrick R. Spires, Liberation Bibliography

What use does bibliographical study serve in a moment of national reckoning (once again again) with systemic racism and open white supremacy? What does it mean to do bibliography in a time when digitization and open-access have made more texts available—if not accessible—to more people than ever before? Dorothy B. Porter provides one directive in the introduction to her A Working Bibliography on the Negro in the United States (1969): “Unless order is brought to this literary outpouring, the flood will overwhelm those who are most in need of this literature. Selective, authoritative bibliographies are essential in improving access to negro literature.”  Writing some forty years later, Barbara Fister echoes Porter’s insistence on access and a focus on reaching those who need literature the most: “Liberation bibliography rests on the idea that the role of libraries is not just to provide access to information but to provide access that is liberating.” Both Porter and Fister offer instances of what this talk discusses in terms of Liberation Bibliography. Drawing on liberation theology, Black Studies, Black feminist criticism, and feminist bibliography, this talk offers liberation bibliography as a conscious and intentional practice of identifying and repairing the harms of systemic racism, anti-blackness, sexism, heteronormativity, and other oppressive forces in and through bibliographical study, broadly conceived. Projects from David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829) to the Colored Conventions Project (2021) model liberation bibliography as a practice of freedom: it is not destination, but rather an ethics and methodology. It marks the necessity of thinking bibliography through the needs of minoritized and oppressed communities and centers the ongoing work—both traditional and non-traditional—emanating from these communities. Liberation bibliography makes visible those knowledge systems and sites of knowledge production, activism, and possibility that institutions have historically rendered invisible or irrelevant. Finally, liberation bibliography changes and challenges how we do this work, with scholars and projects focusing simultaneously on the ethics of studying “the book” at the same time as they engage in an ongoing reconsideration of citational practices, archives, power, and our relation to them.

  • The 2021 Annual Meeting: Call to Order
  • Brief reports from the Secretary, Treasurer, & Audit Committee
  • Awards Presentation: BSA Fellowships, The William L. Mitchell Prize
  • Closing toast & adjourment