09 September 2014

Monumental Shakespeare

All good Shakespeareans must occasionally make a pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon, and this past summer it was once again my turn to visit Shakespeare's native town. (For more on his relationship to Stratford, see my last post on Shakespeare's printer). I was there to attend a conference held at the Shakespeare Institute where I delivered a paper that traced some of the connections between the epitaph on Shakespeare's gravestone in Holy Trinity -- it takes the form of a malediction, cursing those who would disturb his bones -- and the First Folio. Since I have a rather vexed relationship with the Folio -- see the series of "Breaking Shakespeare" posts listed here -- you would rightly infer that I am a vehement proponent for disturbing his bones (metaphorically, at least).

The First Folio was designed, in part, as a monument and a memorial to Shakespeare.  And once I had returned to London, the first order of business was to search out a curious monument that memorializes the First Folio and its compilers, John Heminge and Henry Condell (members of Shakespeare's theatre company). I was fortunate to be joined by Mercurius Politicus (@mercpol) and Wynken de Worde (@wynkenhimself) on this excursion -- which turned out to be just one part of a trans-atlantic, trans-continental set of pilgrimages that I took, in order to tell the full story of this monument.

28 May 2014

Shakespeare's Beehive and Shakespeare's Printer

Just over a month ago -- and, not coincidentally, just in time for Shakespeare's 450th birthday -- two booksellers from New York, George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, announced that they had found Shakespeare's dictionary. Several years earlier they had acquired a copy of an early modern dictionary that was heavily annotated; they have since decided that it was owned by Shakespeare, and so they call it "Shakespeare's Beehive" in reference to the name of the book, John Baret's An Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie (1580). 

As the belated date of this post should make clear, I'm not interested in the validity of the case they are seeking to prove -- suffice it to say, my initial scholarly skepticism was warranted. Rather, I'm interested in the use that they make of Richard Field, a fellow native of Stratford-on-Avon and the first printer of Shakespeare's two narrative poems. Field has long served as the focus of biographical speculation regarding Shakespeare -- speculation that, as I have written at length before, has fundamentally influenced our narratives of Shakespeare's life and career -- and Field's role here is no different. So I offer here a brief lesson in Shakespearean scholarship and myth-making, by way of a brief analysis of Shakespeare's Beehive, the fine press book written by Koppelman and Wechsler, which our library recently acquired.

19 April 2014

Shakespeare Live Stream

UPDATE: You can now watch the entire archived live stream, either here (in the embedded video just below) or here.

Ask me anything -- about Shakespeare!

Celebrate the week of Shakespeare's 450th birthday by joining us live online on April 21st from 1-3 pm (CST) and ask us anything about Shakespeare and early modern books. On hand we'll have historic, unusual, beautiful, and even forged editions of Shakespeare's works -- some of which have appeared on this site.

Adam G. Hooks, Assistant Professor of English, University of Iowa

Colleen Theisen, Special Collections Outreach and Instruction Librarian
@libralthinking and @UISpecColl

You can view the live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVceEwlIFJs

You can ask us a question in the comment thread on the live stream site, or by sending us a question via twitter.

08 March 2014

Carnivalesque #101

Things have been quiet around here lately, as Anchora -- like the rest of the Midwest -- has been hibernating through the frigid winter. Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that the early modern blogosphere has been flourishing. So as we turn toward spring -- and inaugurate a new century of sorts for Carnivalesque -- let's launch right into the best the web has had to offer this year so far.

Folger Shakespeare Library
V.b.311, f. 129r

30 September 2013

Shakespeare for Sale

I am very pleased to announce the publication of "Shakespeare for Sale" -- a special double issue of Philological Quarterly that features some of the best new work in the field of Shakespeare and book history. Of course, I edited this collection (which started as a seminar I led at the Shakespeare Association of America in 2011) so I don't exactly possess an unbiased opinion -- so you should seek it out for yourself! Fortunately, you can read my introduction along with the table of contents at one of the links just below -- and for more information on Philological Quarterly (which is edited here in the Department of English at the University of Iowa) go here. If your institution subscribes to Literature Online, the issue will also soon be available there, as well.

You can download my introduction either at my Academia.edu page or through this direct Dropbox link. You can also download the entire issue here.

18 September 2013

Animae Anchora Spes Viva

This past summer I was fortunate to be chosen as the E. Ph. Goldschmidt Fellow at Rare Book School. The fellowship gave me the opportunity to take a course on 15th-Century Books in Print and Manuscript, led by the inimitable duo of Will Noel and Paul Needham. The course was not down at the home base of RBS in Charlottesville, but in residence in Philadelphia at the brand new (and beyond gorgeous) Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania, home of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS). And then there were the field trips to the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Scheide Library at Princeton. I won't go into all the details here (oh, the incunabula!) but needless to say, if you saw my Twitter feed over the summer, you know exactly how jealous you should be.

Enough humble-bragging, though, and back to the point of this post. E. Ph. Goldschmidt was an antiquarian bookseller renowned for his commitment to scholarship (not to mention, as this entertaining biography of Goldschmidt shows, for his commitment to late nights and cigarettes). It just so happens that one of the preliminary readings for my RBS course was Goldschmidt's monumental two-volume study of Gothic and Renaissance Bookbindings, exemplified and illustrated from the author's collection (1928). (The sub-title is no less magnificent for being understated). While reading through Goldschmidt's book on bindings, one in particular caught my eye -- and if you're reading this blog, I think you know exactly why.

Here's an illustration from the second volume of the book, a binding that features a particular printer's device:

17 June 2013

Cheap and Common

[N.B.: This post is a collaboration between myself and Marissa Nicosia (UPenn) and is cross-posted (with a few variants) both here at anchora and at the Penn libraries blog Unique at Penn. This started as another post in my "Breaking Apart" series, which has recently focused on leaf books (see here, here, and here). As you'll see below, our collaboration started when we began comparing our libraries' respective copies of the same leaf book. Marissa's post can be found here]

07 June 2013

Adam's Wicked Heart

[N.B.: Here's the next in my "Breaking Apart" series, which has recently focused on leaf books -- including entries on Gutenberg and Shakespeare]

Because it is impolitic--at least generally speaking, and at least now--to break apart copies of rare and valuable books in order to sell them off in pieces (or to incorporate them in a luxurious leaf book) the copies chosen to be broken apart are often imperfect, or damaged, or simply and visibly used, and hence far from pristine. And so it is with this leaf from a 1535 Coverdale bible, which is covered in manicules. (And to see those manicules in action, in one of the better GIFs you're apt to come across, see this post from the UI Special Collections tumblr). No, really -- dancing manicules!

click to embiggen!

21 May 2013

SHARP @ RSA 2014

Sarah Werner (aka Wynken de Worde) and I will be organizing the SHARP panels at next year's RSA conference. The theme we've chosen -- which is unsurprising if you've, say, visited the main page of my blog, or seen Sarah's recent online musings -- is fragmentation and collection. Share this CFP with anyone and everyone -- and come join us in NYC next year!

"Fragments and Gatherings"

Call for Papers: SHARP @ RSA 2014

The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) will sponsor a series of panels at the Renaissance Society of America’s annual meeting in New York City, 27-29 March 2014. SHARP @ RSA brings together scholars working on any aspect of the creation, dissemination, and reception of manuscript and print and their digital mediation.

For the 2014 conference, we are soliciting papers that address the issues of fragmentation and gathering, broadly conceived, in early modern English and/or Continental books and manuscripts. We invite submissions that consider one or more of the following topics:

1) Fragments: How does the production and survival of texts as discrete material objects shape our understanding and use of them? We might think of fragments in terms of how texts were made (pieces of type, leaves of paper) or in terms of how they are experienced today (surviving fragments).

2) Gatherings: How does the grouping of discrete objects into collections of more or less coherence shape our understanding and use of textual objects? Gathering might take the form of the minute to large scale (quires of paper, sammelband, libraries). 

3) Fragments and Gatherings: How do fragments turn into gatherings? When do gatherings break down into fragments? What sort of study of book history and material textuality is engendered by these moves?

Please send a 150-word abstract and a one-page CV to
by June 7th (note that this is earlier than the RSA’s own deadline).

All participants must be current members of both RSA and SHARP.

For details of RSA 2014, see here.

For more information on SHARP, see here.

22 April 2013

Breaking Gutenberg Apart

N.B.: This post is part of my "Breaking ... Apart" series. For the companion post, "Breaking Shakespeare Apart (Part 2)" go here.

In the previous post I quoted a statement from a book dealer that justified the sale of leaves from the Shakespeare First Folio through recourse to the trade in individual leaves taken from the Gutenberg Bible. I also mentioned a number of copies of a First Folio leaf book called A Noble Fragment -- and that Iowa had a leaf book by that name, featuring a single leaf from the Gutenberg Bible. These leaf books provide a chance to come into contact with -- to actually touch -- books that are culturally and financially invaluable; they also show that these books (or "books") are just as often encountered as disassembled fragments, however noble they might be.