Beyond the Text: Full Program



Born Digital • Sound Archives • Publishers’ Archives • Intersections of Archival and Literary Theory • Romance of the Archive • Teaching with Literary Archives • Mining the Archive

FRIDAY, April 26

9:00-10:00         Registration

10:00-10:15       Welcome

10:15-11:30       Session 1: Born Digital
Chair: Gabriela Redwine, Digital Archivist, Beinecke Library

Lori Emerson, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Colorado Boulder

Title: Floppy Disks, Artist Books, and the Trouble with Origins: Paul Zelevansky's THE BURIAL OF ANCESTORS
Abstract: In 1986, Paul Zelevansky published the second volume of his by-now rare artist book trilogy THE CASE FOR THE BURIAL OF ANCESTORS: Book Two, Genealogy. Enclosed in an envelope on the inside of the back cover, the book also comes with "SWALLOWS," a 5.25" floppy disk that is a videogame forming the first of three parts in the book. I will discuss this game in terms of the broader field of early electronic literature and how it openly plays with and tentatively tests the parameters of the personal computer as a still-new writing technology. Finally, I will discuss the challenges to maintaining access to this work either through the original hardware/software or through emulation.

Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Professor of English, Department of English, Director, MITH, University of Maryland

Title: The Afterlives of Agrippa

Abstract: This talk will explore the various network effects that have followed from the initially illicit circulation of William Gibson's famous self-disappearing diskette poem "Agrippa" on the early Internet. These network effects include an extensive scholarly Web site devoted to the complex, multifaceted work (which consists of a physical artist's book with etchings by Dennis Ashbaugh published by Kevin Begos, Jr. in addition to the poem) dubbed "The Agrippa Files," as well as a crowd-sourced competition to crack the text's original electronic encryption. Moreover, Begos has recently given over a number of archival documents and materials pertaining to the conception and production of the Agrippa project to the Bodleian Library, where they are being prepared for patron access. This sequence of events, which collectively constitute a rich "afterlife" for a work explicitly engineered to be ephemeral, thus complicates our understanding of the "born-digital" and its object(s) of preservation.

Fran Baker, Assistant Archivist, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Title: Emails to an Editor: Preserving the Digital Correspondence of Carcanet Press

Abstract: Carcanet Press, based in Manchester (UK), is a publishing house renowned for its international poetry list. Founded as a shoestring venture in 1969 without even the benefit of a telephone, it was, according to one commentator, 'entirely the fruit of the epistolary art'. This correspondence forms the core of the Carcanet Press Archive, and today is largely carried out by email. Last year, the University of Manchester Library – already home to over 1,200 boxes of Carcanet's hard copy archive – took in its first digital accession, in the form of 170,000 Carcanet emails. My paper explores some of the curatorial and technical challenges this raised, and considers both the strengths and limitations of such an email archive for the researchers of today and the future. 

11:30-12:45       Session 2: Sound Archives

Moderator: Al Filreis, Kelly Professor of English, Department of English and Co-director, PennSound, University of Pennsylvania

Steve Evans, Associate Professor of English, Department of English, University of Maine

Jason Camlot, Associate Professor, Department of English, Concordia University

Session Abstract: In this roundtable discussion, three scholars of "phonotextuality" share their recent research into the status of the poetic soundfile— from the earliest analog media (wires, wax cylinders, and discs) to today’s ubiquitous digital formats (MP3,WAV, and others)—and discuss the changing institutional and technological conditions in which literary recordings are created, stored, described, interpreted, reproduced, and circulated. Some questions to be considered: Is the "phonotext" a discrete mode of publication, or does it merely "echo" the print archive? How can strategies of critical "close listening" open onto wider-scale inquiries into archives and digital databases? What sort of metadata should we be generating? How do we reconstruct the changing historical and rhetorical protocols that inform the recorded readings we listen to? What pedagogical innovations might the "phonotext" encourage us to imagine?

12:45-2:15         Lunch (on your own)

2:15-3:30          Session 3: Publishers’ Archives

Chair: Laura Millar, Consultant and Independent Scholar

Title: Avoiding Typecasting – The Evidential Value of Publishers' Archives
Abstract: While many scholars turn to publishers' archives for information about the authorial process, the records also reveal evidence of the business of publishing, from editing to marketing, promotion, production, distribution, and sales. What can we learn about the business of publishing from the archives of publishers? What is the future of publishers' archives as digital technologies change both the written record and the scope and duties of the archival institution?

Beth Luey, Independent Scholar

Title: Authors' Correspondence and Much, Much More

Abstract: Publishers' archives offer riches to historians of business, culture, literature, and design as well as to literary scholars and biographers. The editorial correspondence you would expect is there, but so are many things that will surprise you.

3:30-4:00            Coffee break

4:00-5:00            Keynote: David Sutton, Director, Research Projects, University of Reading Library
                          Introduced by Timothy D. Murray, Head, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library

Title: The Destinies of Literary Manuscripts: Past, Present and Future

5:00-6:00            Reception at Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

SATURDAY, April 27

9:00-10:00         Registration and Breakfast

10:00-11:15       Session 4:  Intersections of Archival and Literary Theory

Chair: Jennifer Meehan, Associate Director of the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Catherine Hobbs, Archivist, Literary Archives (English-language), Library and Archives Canada

Title: Literary Archives, Literary Life, Literary Agency: Theory and Ethical Practice for Archivists

Abstract: This talk will consider features which distinguish the personal archives of literary writers. It will explore how archivists can approach literary archives in direct and lateral ways during the aftershocks of postmodern theory, touching on how the profession can retain traces of agency and respect the creative practice, aesthetic, and life of the individual behind the fonds (archive), even as it leaves behind its positivist leanings.
Heather MacNeil, Associate Professor, School of Information, University of Toronto

Title: Reading Archival Theory through the Lens of Textual Criticism

Abstract: MacNeil will decipher and interpret the archival theory of arrangement by comparing it to textual criticism, with the aim of illustrating how such a comparison might inform a re-conceptualization of that theory.
Michael O’Driscoll, Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta
Title: Between Production and Reception: The Intervening Archive
Abstract: While the archive is conventionally understood to arrive in the wake of literary production and reception as a guarantor of authenticity and intention, this paper will contend that the archive constitutes the excessive remainder, the middle or third term, of any cultural history. Indeed, the "intervening archive" deconstructs this opposition between production and reception, and thereby invites certain ethical engagements for those authors who understand themselves to be writing from within the space of this mediating technology.
11:15-12:30        Session 5: Romance of the Archive
Moderator: Kathryn James, Curator, Early Modern & Osborn Collections, Beinecke Library
Hazel Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies, Yale University
Diane Ducharme, Archivist, Beinecke Library
Heather Vermeulen, Doctoral Candidate, African American Studies, Yale University
Session Abstract: How do we, as researchers, imagine our connection with the archive—and with an archival past or pasts? This round table discussion opens a conversation on the idea of the scholar’s relationship with the archive and archival subject. Often envisioned as an unproblematically empirical endeavor, or as an emotional connection with an archival subject, the researcher’s engagement with an archive is a necessarily complicated, highly conscious, often partial undertaking. This roundtable frames and examines many of the tropes by which archival research is represented, and by extension the expectations which we as scholars bring to our understanding of the archive and its possible connections with the past.

12:30-2:00          Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:15            Session 6: Teaching With Literary Archives

Chair: Bill Landis, Head of Public Services, Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library

Jacqueline Goldsby, Professor of English & African American Studies, Department of English and African American Studies, Yale University

Alice Kaplan, John M. Musser Professor of French, French Department, Yale University

Title: The Archive Narrative: Teaching the Archives in Fiction
Abstract: A reflection on the archival quest narrative in recent fiction and memoir (Deborah Baker, Patrick Modiano, Edmund de Waal). What does this literature have to offer students and theorists of the archive?
Jessica Pressman, Visiting Scholar, Literature Department, University California, San Diego
Title: Teaching Digital Poetics and/as Archiving
Abstract: This talk argues that there is no separation between digital poetics and preservation. Digital literature, poetics, and textuality are materially, technologically, and socially inseparable from issues of digital archiving. Thus, teaching digital literature entails teaching about and through the constraints of digital preservation.  
3:15-3:45            Coffee break

3:45-5:00            Session 7: Mining the Archive

Chair: Sue Hodson, Curator of literary manuscripts, Huntington Library

Ammiel Alcalay, Deputy Chair, PhD Program in English, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Title: Follow the Person

Abstract: This talk will examine the multi-pronged approach that the Lost & Found: CUNY Poetics Document Initiative has taken: from its pedagogy, teaching an ethics of transmission, to its unique publishing model, giving some background as to how the initiative emerged, and highlighting some of its principles.
Micki McGee, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fordham University
Title: The Yaddo Archive Project: Mapping the Yaddo Records with Network Analysis Tools
Abstract: Yaddo is one of America's oldest and most distinguished artist's retreats. The organization's corporate records, which were transferred to the New York Public Library in 1999, constitute a significant resource for research in 20th century arts and letters. In 2008 I curated Yaddo: Making American Culture, an exhibition for the NYPL based on these and other archival materials. The Yaddo Archive Project (, for which I am the principal investigator, has extended this research to develop a prototype interactive online tool for mapping the relationships between the artists, writers and composers affiliated with Yaddo. We have also begun working on data interoperability issues for personcentric network analysis. This talk will consider these projects, and their next steps.

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University

Title: Bridging Two Worlds: Claude McKay, Samuel Roth, and the Shadow Archive of Modernism

Abstract: The archival research and challenges involved in authenticating Claude McKay's "Amiable with Big Teeth" after it was unexpectedly discovered in the papers of the publisher Samuel Roth. In addition, the archive's capacity to bridge worlds that traditional categorizations and specializations within literary studies have usually kept apart.

5:00-5:15           Closing


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