Revenants: Memories of Books

May 30, 2017

By Nancy Kuhl

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

New work by Beinecke Library photographer Meredith Miller is now on view in the exhibition “Evidence: Art & Fact” The Gallery Upstairs at the Institute Library.

Miller’s photographic series “Revenants: Memories of Books” documents the paper chips and flakes, the loose binding threads, the brittle glue residue, and other materials left behind by books, newspapers, and documents being photographed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The exhibition coincides with the publication of the limited edition of Revenants: Memories of Books, which collects Miller’s photos with essays about the work.

Of Miller’s photographs, Yale Collection of American Literature Curator Nancy Kuhl writes: “Meredith Miller’s photographs of ‘memories of books’ remind us that in real and substantial ways books are memories; in their accumulation in libraries and collections, they are our memories, our shared cultural remembrance and knowing recollection; as physical objects bearing the marks of their making and their use over years and centuries, books also have memories, the capacity to mark—to re-collect—specific past moments and ages, be they cherished or despised or derelict.  In Meredith Miller’s work, the remains left behind by books speak both of memory and possibility, here books become explosive, ghostly, otherworldly, celestial. We know that light from stars travels a tremendous a distance in time to reach our eyes—when we look upon planets and stars in the night sky, we know we are looking back into a remote time. That Miller’s Revenants are sometimes so like constellations and starscapes is a reminder that when we look at her ‘memories of books’ we are seeing into that complicated personal and cultural phenomenon we call the past.

For more information about Meredith Miller and her work or to order copies of Revenants: Memories of Books visit:

“Evidence: Art & Fact” The Gallery Upstairs at the Institute Library in on view from May 27 – September 2, 2017. For more information visit or contact