Matthew Kirschenbaum Delivers Annual Lecture to the Bibliographical Society of America at the Grolier Club in New York City

January 28, 2014

On January 24th, Professor Matt Kirschenbaum delivered the annual lecture to the Bibliographical Society of America at the Grolier Club in New York City. His talk was entitled, "Operating Systems of the Mind: The Bibliographical Description and Analysis of Born-Digital Texts."

When most people hear the word "bibliography," they think of a long list of books. But bibliographers are actually the people who study how books are made and printed, as physical objects. They are the detectives of the literary world. The remit for Matt's lecture was to "bring the Society into the 21st century." Matt is not sure whether or not he did that, but he feels like he at least brought them to March of 1983. The subject of his talk was John Updike's acquisition of a word processor at around that time. For bibliographers, word processing and digital documents raise all sorts of intriguing questions--how do you study the book as a physical object if it is first written and composed as bits and bytes rather than as ink on paper? Based on research that Matt did at the Houghton Library last fall (which is where Updike's manuscripts and papers *and* computer disks are kept), he was able to show the Society how bibliographers of the future can use a combination of manuscript, hard copy printouts, and digital materials to learn about an author's composition process. The lecture was well attended and well received, with the book-lined exhibition hall of the Grolier Club filled to capacity at around 150 persons.

Matt also noted, "It was a delight to give for one additional reason as well: the Grolier Club is where Kari Kraus and I were married in 2002."