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This seminar brings together from various disciplines scholars who work on the history of the book and the study of material texts in order to place the technical and bibliographical study of text objects in dialogue with cultural studies and both the textually- and the materially-oriented humanist disciplines more broadly.  Over recent decades, book history has emerged as a necessarily and productively interdisciplinary field; with this in mind, this seminar focuses on the interpretation of material textual objects from an array of disciplinary perspectives.  Our aim is to provide a clearinghouse for emerging methods and work, and a nexus for scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to discuss and pursue shared interests in the study of the book and the material text.

Past Meetings

Alexis Hagadorn

Interim Co-Chair
Jane Siegel

Anya Wilkening

Meeting Schedule

11/14/2023 Studio at Butler Library, Columbia University
5:30 PM
Artists’ Books: A Few Made Strategies and Tactics
Marjorie Welish, Independent Scholar, Artist


The expression “artist’s book” indicates an object other than an illustrated book insofar as the materials and techniques in the construction of the book are made to intervene in the writing and reading process. In other words, it engages and invents, even as it cross-examines or otherwise tests the physical matter of the book by constructing a work other than yet contributing to its written content.

What happens when authorship includes more than one person? For the solitary vocations of artists or writers or composers, the made object is an interlocutor which tests creativity, and gives articulate definition to imagination. And yet the artists’ collaboration induces an object where negotiation complicates the creative enterprise. On the way to realizing the object is a process issuing from more than one person, with the realm of possibilities calling for more choices to be arrived at intellectually and technically, and an invitation for unforeseen consequences all along the way: the way of possibility rather than necessity.

Even so, the constraints of design induce limits.

12/12/2023 523 Butler Library, Columbia University
5:30 PM
Printing and Metaphor
Clifton Meador, Appalachian State University

01/30/2024 523 Butler Library, Columbia University
5:30 PM
Woodblock Printers of the Mind: Problems of Analogy in Western and East Asian Descriptive Bibliography
Devin Fitzgerald, Yale University

02/20/2024 523 Butler Library, Columbia University
5:30 PM
Material as Substrate and Content in Contemporary Artists’ Books
Russell Maret, Independent scholar/ artist/ printer

03/26/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
5:15 PM
Evidence in Old Books: Identification, Interpretation and Preservation
Maria Fredericks, Morgan Library and Museum

04/09/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
5:15 PM
A Treasure from the Library of Jacques Amyot 1513-1593) Rediscovered in Provins: The Edition of Euripides’ Tragedies by Jean Hervagius (Basel, 1537)
Luc Duchamp, Fonds Anciens, Ville de Provins

05/07/2024 523 Butler Library, Columbia University
5:30 PM
Susan Weil’s Livres d’Artiste: The Matter of Visual Metaphors
Vanessa Troiano, CUNY Graduate Center