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May 2014

Ann Blair (Harvard University), In the workshop of the mind: collaborative relationships in early modern Europe

May 14, 2014 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Communications 120

Today we are well aware of the collaborative nature of intellectual work: the majority of scientific papers are co-authored; in the humanities interdisciplinary initiatives and digital methods of research have all encouraged collaboration. We generally have the sense that collaborative work is a recent development, that in the past scholarship was a solitary activity. Indeed in paintings and descriptions of the early modern period scholars were typically depicted working alone, but the working papers and letters that survive tell a…

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Megan Sweeney (University of Michigan), Life Sentences: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading

May 20, 2014 @ 4:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Communications 120

During the late 1960s, male prisoners at San Quentin circulated handwritten pages of The Communist Manifesto by way of a clothesline strung from cell to cell.  Today, by contrast, women prisoners frequently circulate devalued genres such as narratives of victimization, African American urban fiction, and Christian self-help books.  Although this contrast creates anxiety among some scholars and activists, I have learned—from conducting extensive interviews and group discussions with ninety-four women prisoners—that the contrast indicates far more about the climate for…

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October 2014

Jacob Soll (USC), Beyond Habermas: News in the Secret Sphere

October 8, 2014 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Communications 120

Jacob Soll (History, University of Southern California) explores the role of both the state and the nascent public sphere in the genesis of news and information flows in early modern Europe. Habermas’s model of the rise of a public sphere is now beginning to crumble, not only as scholars show much earlier origins of news, information flows, and public opinion, but also as the state emerges as a key player in inventing and managing news. Soll discusses the symbiosis, often odd and…

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November 2014

Andrew Stauffer (Virginia), Traces in the Stacks: The Troubled Archive of Nineteenth-Century Literature

November 21, 2014 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Husky Union Building 340

This lecture is based on Andrew Stauffer’s Book Traces project, which aims to get people into libraries to crowd-source the discovery of nineteenth-century books that have been marked and modified by their original owners. Stauffer presents examples of such evidence of use and also considers the changing nature of academic research libraries in the wake of Google. Out of copyright, non-rare, and often fragile due to poor paper quality, nineteenth-century printed books are both richly served and particularly imperiled in the…

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January 2015

Christina Lupton (Warwick), “Immersing the Network in Time: From the Where to the When of Print Reading”

January 14 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Communications 202

​In 1990, Michel Serres challenged Bruno Latour to think about what happens to the model of the network once it is “immersed in time.” This paper takes up this challenge in relation to book history. It moves from thinking about books as objects that connect and mediate relations spatially, to thinking about the read book as an object that comes and goes over the course of the week, restructuring what Stuart Sherman calls the “tick, tick, tick” of the book’s…

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Jerome McGann (Virginia), From the American Scholar to a Science of Exceptions

January 29 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Husky Union Building 145
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February 2015

Priya Joshi (Temple), Retrofitting the Theory of the Novel

February 26 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Husky Union Building 145

“Retrofit: A modification made to a product or structure to incorporate changes and developments introduced since manufacture” (OED). Novel theorists in the twentieth century have made wide-ranging claims about the form based on European texts that were virtually all written in a past moment. Thus, the novels of Fielding, Richardson, and Defoe were 200 years old when Ian Watt retrieved them for his history (1957); Balzac’s and Tolstoy’s novels would have been collecting social security when Lukàcs wrote on them…

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April 2015

Nicholas Paige (Berkeley), From Examples to Samples: Quantifying the Fictionality of the French Novel, 1681-1820

April 20 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Most historians of the novel’s “rise” argue by example and example alone.  We generate our narratives about the genre’s history from a few works that we assume to be either representative of the mass of works or as harbingers of future practice.  Should we want to counter those narratives, we just pick some other works, or, more commonly, subject the same works to a different reading.  What happens, though, if we move from interpreting examples to taking samples?  I’ll try…

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Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard), Print in the Digital Age and Cold Storage: A Documentary

April 27 @ 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Communications 202

Jeffrey Schnapp, a renowned Romance linguist, Dante scholar, editor, curator, and digital humanist, presents on recent projects engaged in remediating print. At 3:30, he will offer a public seminar on the metaLABprojects series in the metaLAB at Harvard and, more broadly, the various scenarios for the future dialogue between pixels and pages. At 5:00, Schnapp will host a screening of Cold Storage, his 26-minute documentary about the Harvard Book Depository, followed by a discussion of “knowledge design” and his work in the…

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May 2015

Janice Radway (Northwestern), lecture TBA

May 14 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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