Feb. 6, 2015: Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies meets at LOC

January 29, 2015

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Dr. Alan Galey, "Veils of Print and Veils of Code: The Challenge of Understanding Digital Texts Bibliographically"

Rosenwald Room (LJ 205), 2nd Floor, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress


   The past several years have seen remarkable growth in textual scholarship that does not merely apply digital tools to the study of texts, but rather takes digital textuality itself as the object of study. Matthew Kirschenbaum is the recognized pioneer in applying textual scholarship to born-digital texts (especially works of electronic literature), and several others in the field have begun to do the same with materials such as video games, virtual worlds, e-books, print-on-demand digital books, and even large research databases. This range of ontological exploration might suggest a field dashing off in all directions at once, but I would argue that it represents the natural extension of bibliographical thinking into areas where it’s urgently needed—just as D.F. McKenzie called for in his later work, and as Andrew Prescott has called for more recently within the digital humanities.


   That extension of textual studies into born-digital materials may be natural, but it not straightforward. Fredson Bowers’s metaphorical description of bibliography's goal—to "strip the veil of print from a text" to understand its history and transmission (On Editing Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Dramatists, 1955)—may resonate even more with twenty-first century bibliographers faced with a veil of code, yet lacking methods to investigate beneath the surfaces of our screens. What might an artifact like an e-book reveal about the history and social contexts of its making, or the collaborative nature of its construction? How do we locate the significant differences between the surviving versions of a digital text, and what is at stake in their preservation and representation? In a born-digital context, how do form and meaning shape each other? This talk will explore these questions and related examples within the context of my current book project, The Veil of Code, which offers a series of case studies in born-digital bibliography.

​​Please join us for Dr. Galey's  talk and for dinner afterwards.

The Jefferson Building is located between First and Second Streets, SE in the District of Columbia. Nearest metro stops are Capitol South (blue and orange lines) and Union Station (red line).

For their encouragement and support, the Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies would like to thank Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections at the Library of Congress, and John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For further information, consult the Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies website at http://wagpcs.wordpress.com/, or contact Sabrina Baron and Eleanor Shevlin at washagpcs "AT" umd.edu.

Eleanor F. Shevlin, Ph.D.

Dept. of English | 548 Main Hall | West Chester University | 610-436-2463