Yale Program in the History of the Book

The Yale Program in the History of the Book brings together scholars across disciplines to explore the materiality of the written word over time and across cultures.  A collaboration between Yale’s Department of English and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, it offers seminar meetings for the Yale community and a series of public lectures by speakers across the field of book history. In autumn 2013, we began hosting an annual symposium.

The Program is organized by David Scott Kastan, Chair (George M. Bodman Professor of English Literature, Yale Department of English); Kathryn James (Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts & the Osborn Collection, Beinecke Library); and Andrew S. Brown (Ph.D. candidate, Yale Department of English).

Events are usually located in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.  Lectures take the form of a forty-five minute talk followed by brief Q&A, and each seminar meeting provides an opportunity for discussion centered on a pre-circulated paper. To be added to the Program list and receive seminar readings, please contact Kathryn James.

Questions?  Please contact Kathryn James. You can also find us on Twitter, where we post updates and sometimes live tweet our events: @yalebookhistory.

About the Program

To foster discussion across the many related fields practicing book history, the Yale Program in the History of the Book is organized around two events with each speaker: a public lecture and, on the following day, a seminar discussion centering on our guests’ work in progress. Beginning in the autumn of 2013, we will also host an annual symposium.

Papers are pre-circulated in the week preceding the seminar. To be added to the seminar list, please contact Kathryn James.

Events Schedule

Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, Connecticut
Lectures: 4:30 pm, mezzanine
Seminar: 5 pm, room 38

Spring 2015

Mordechai Levy-Eichel, PhD Candidate, Department of History, Yale University
"Good and Useful Learning": The Expansion of Mathematics in Early Modern English Printing
Seminar, Thursday, January 22

Cathleen Baker, Conservation Library and Adjunct Lecturer, University of Michigan,
Caleb Smith, Professor of English and American Studies, Yale University
The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict
Lecture, Wednesday, February 4; Seminar, Thursday, February 5

Kathy Peiss, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History, University of Pennsylvania
Information in Wartime: American "Bookmen" and their Acquisitions in World War II
Lecture, Wednesday, March 4; Seminar, Thursday, March 5

Alexandra Gillespie, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Toronto
Chaucer in Fragments: Collating The Canterbury Tales
Lecture, Wednesday, April 15; Seminar, Thursday, April 16

Fall 2014

Henry Woudhuysen, Rector, Lincoln College, University of Oxford
Adulteration and Vampment: The ‘Improvement’ of Rare Books, 1750-1950
In conjuction with the exhibition Reading English
Lecture, Wednesday, October 1; Seminar, Thursday, October 2

Blair Hedges, Professor and Director, Center for Biodiversity, Temple University
Wormholes and the Science of Prints
Lecture, Wednesday, November 5; Seminar, Thursday, November 6

Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, Department of English, University of Iowa
Codex 2.0: Turning the Conceptual Page
Lecture, Wednesday, December 3; Seminar, Thursday, December 4

Past Events

Spring 2014

Marc Michael Epstein, Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, Vassar College
Book Arts and the Expansion of the Methodological Toolbox for the Study of Medieval Judaism
Lecture, Wednesday, February 12, 2014; Seminar, Thursday, February 13, 2014

Timothy Barrett, Director, Center for the Book, and Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Iowa
Papermakers Who Made Parchment: Product Innovation in 14th- and 15th-Century European Papermaking
Lecture, Wednesday, March 5, 2014; Seminar, Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jessie Ann Owens, Professor of Music and Dean, Division of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies, University of California, Davis
From Concept to Printed Book: The Genesis and Manufacture of Thomas Morley’s 1597 Music Treatise
Lecture, Wednesday, April 9, 2014; Seminar, Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fall 2013

Symposium, Structures of Meaning in the History of the Book
Friday and Saturday, September 20 and 21, 2013
See the “Annual Symposium” tab for more information

Leslie Howsam, University Professor of History, University of Windsor
Mediated Histories: How Victorian Periodicals Parsed the Past
Lecture, Wednesday, October 2, 2013; Seminar, Thursday, October 3, 2013

Randall McLeod, Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of Toronto
De motu textis
Lecture, Wednesday, November 6, 2013; Seminar, Thursday, November 7, 2013

Peter Kornicki, Professor of Japanese Studies and Head of Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
Sins of Omission: What the Publishers’ Catalogues of Edo-period Japan Left Out
Lecture, Wednesday, December 11, 2013; Seminar, Thursday, December 12, 2013


Michael Warner, “Preachers and Publics”
Lecture, Wednesday, October 10, 2012; Seminar, Thursday, October 11, 2012

Robert Darnton, “Blogging, Now and Then (250 Years Ago)”
Lecture, Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012; Seminar, Thursday, October 25, 2012*
Seminar details: 9-10:30 am, Linsly-Chittenden Hall, room 319, 63 High Street

David Brewer, “The Ancien Régime of Authorial Names”
Seminar, Thursday, December 13, 2012
Cosponsored by the 18th- and 19th-Century Colloquium, Department of English

Aaron T. Pratt, “Buying Playbooks in Early Modern England”
Seminar, Thursday, January 17, 2013

Roger Chartier, “Author’s Hand and Printer’s Mind in Early Modern Europe”
Lecture, Wednesday, February 6, 2013; Seminar, Thursday, February 7, 2013

Elizabeth Eisenstein, Reactions to a New Medium in the Old Millenium
Lecture, Wednesday, March 6, 2013; Seminar, Thursday, March 7, 2013

Matthew Kirschenbaum, “Track Changes: The Literary History of Word-Processing”
Seminar, Thursday, April 25, 2013



Time and the Book
A Symposium of the Yale Program in the History of the Book
Friday and Saturday, September 12 and 13, 2014

On the nightstand, on its deathbed; in AustenLand and on Notre Dame; serially and on cereal boxes: the book is always situated materially within its and others’ times. This year’s symposium examines the intersections of time and the book, exploring the relationships of time and materiality in the life of books as objects. Some themes include: the co-existence of timeframes and time-scales, within the lives and critical lives of the book as object; the circadian and palimpsestic lives of books; their imagined pasts and futures; the differential ageing of materials and material structures within them, and of social structures without; and the changing identities or values of books, or structures or perceptions of books, over time.
The symposium will begin on Friday at 2:30 with a Biblio-Laboratory, held at the Beinecke Library in rooms 38-39, followed at 4:30 by a keynote lecture and symposium reception on the Beinecke Library mezzanine.
Friday:  All events are free and open to the public.
Saturday: Registration will be required, and will open in mid-August.  If you have questions, please contact Aaron Pratt (



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