APHA invites you to join us at our 48th annual conference at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin on October 12–14, 2023.
“The Printed Weird: Book History from the Margins” draws its theme from the long-standing and much-debated local culture rallying cry to “Keep Austin Weird.” Papers and panels will raise questions about established printing and book historical practices, knowledge, and objects, particularly those that present the odd or alternative, the apparently exceptional or idiosyncratic, the out of the mainstream, and contradictory to received wisdom.
“The Printed Weird” is APHA’s first hybrid conference. This will allow virtual conference attendees not able to travel to Austin the opportunity to access all keynote speakers and paper and panel presentations live from the comfort of their home.
APHA conference attendees in Austin will have an opportunity to print keepsakes (sponsored by the Austin Book Arts Center and UT’s Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection), and to join a curator-led tour of the Harry Ransom Center’s exhibit, “The Long Lives of Very Old Books.” Tours at these and other local institutions, including the Blanton Museum of Art, the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection, and the Benson Latin American Collection will round out the conference program.
Registration | Conference Venue | Travel and Transportation | Accommodations | Schedule | Speakers | Sponsors and Partners
Registration is now closed and was limited to 120 participants for in-person attendance, and unlimited for virtual attendance. In-person conference registration is $165 for current APHA members ($215 for non-members) and $75 for current student members ($95 for non-member students). In-person registration includes admission to all keynote, paper and panel presentations, opening reception, and conference tours, as well as virtual conference access. Members can register up to two guests at the member rate. Non-member students attending the conference in person will receive one year’s membership to APHA (regularly $30/year).
Virtual conference registration is set at $65 for APHA members ($85 for non-members) and $35 for student members ($45 for non-member students). Virtual attendees will be able to access all keynote, paper and panel presentations, which will be streamed live.
Registration is available on APHA’s secure payment page. Cancellations can be made through September 30. After
September 30 (extended through October 8), all in-person conference registrations will include a late fee of $40 for regular registrants and $20 for students.
Conference registrants who are not current members can join APHA ($60/year for individuals and $30/year for students) to take advantage of lower member registration rates and to receive other membership benefits, like APHA’s semi-annual journal Printing History.
Questions? Please contact the APHA Conference Planning Committee at email@example.com.
The APHA conference will be held at the Harry Ransom Center, an internationally renowned humanities research center at The University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s extensive collections provide unique insight into the creative process of some of our finest writers and artists, deepening the understanding and appreciation of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts.
NOTE: The Ransom Center is anticipating a higher volume of visitors in the Reading Room during the week of the APHA conference. Reading Room staff recommend that you create a Research Account and complete a Patron Visit Form two days prior to your anticipated arrival to help staff prepare for your visit and have some of your materials pulled before you arrive.
Travel and Transportation
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is served by all major domestic and international airlines and located twelve miles from the conference venue.
The Ransom Center is located at 300 West 21st Street, Austin, Texas, 78712.
For complete and current information about public transportation in Austin, visit CapMetro. The “Plan Your Trip” section of this website offers point-to-point directions using the public transportation system.
A variety of lodging options are available within 1.5 miles of campus; all of them fill up quickly due to October events throughout the city. Nearby options include:
AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
DoubleTree, University Area
Otis Hotel Austin
Attendees are encouraged to book as early as possible. Austin is a popular travel destination in October, and the APHA conference will coincide with the second weekend of the Austin City Limits music festival.
THURSDAY, October 12
All times are U.S. Central Daylight Time (UTC-05:00)
1:00-5:30 p.m. Pre-Conference Tours of Local Art Centers, Libraries and Cultural Institutions
- Benson Latin American Collection (curator-led tour of current exhibition and a selection of the library’s world-class holdings, 1:30-2:30 p.m.; click for more information)
- Blanton Museum of Art (curator-led tour, 3:30-4:30 p.m.; click for more information and sign-up)
- Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (self-guided tour, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; open to the public, no reservation necessary)
- Ransom Center, “The Long Lives of Very Old Books” (curator-led tour of exhibition, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; no reservation necessary)
- Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection (tour, open house and demonstration, 1:00-5:30 p.m.; click for more information)
4:00–6:00 p.m. Registration
6:00–7:15 p.m. Opening Speaker
Sarah Horowitz, Ink and Imagination: Unearthing Unconventional Printing Techniques for Baba Yaga
7:15–8:30 p.m. Opening Reception
FRIDAY, october 13
All times are U.S. Central Daylight Time (UTC-05:00)
9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Registration
9:30–9:45 a.m. Welcome
9:45–11:00 a.m. Papers Session 1
Molly E. Dotson, Creeps, Bleeds, and Other Oddities around the Edges
Paul F. Gehl, Curator of Junk Mail
M. Wright, ‘Peculiarly Suited’: When Typesetting Became Women’s Work
11:00–11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Papers Session 2
Craig Eliason, A Forgotten Purpose: Auriol as a Text Typeface
Jamie Mahoney, Revitalizing Werkman: Maverick Designer and Printmaker
Yasmin Rodriguez, LEGO Print Lab
12:30–1:45 p.m. Lunch Break
1:45–3:00 p.m. Panel 1
Cait Coker, Lori Newcomb, Elias Petrou and Todd Samuelson, Invisible Evidence
3:00–3:15 p.m. Break
3:15–4:30 p.m. Papers Session 3
Jeremy Dibbell, San Serriffean Easter Eggs in the Printing of Henry Morris and the Bird & Bull Press
Jacob Romm, ‘The Page Half-Writ’: Michael Field, Vale Press, and the (Trans)History of Queer Print
Levi Sherman, Ojalá: Material and Moral Cheapness on the U.S.-Mexico Border
4:30–6:00 p.m. Optional tours, demonstrations, etc.
SATURDAY, October 14
All times are U.S. Central Daylight Time (UTC-05:00)
9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Registration
9:30–9:45 a.m. Announcements/Housekeeping
9:45–11:00 a.m. Papers Session 4
Szilvia Szmuk-Tanenbaum, Unconventional Characters: The Use of Printers’ Ornaments in 18th-Century Spanish Plays
Zanna Van Loon, Leaving the Wrong Impression?: An Intriguing Copy of Aldus Manutius’ Orthographiae ratio (1564) Published by Christophe Plantin
Ring Yong, Looking at Chinese Woodblocks: A Revised Account of the Technology, Its Imprints, and Production Costs
11:00–11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Panel 2
Christine Adame, Meredith Cawley, Billi London-Gray, and Hannah March Sanders, Altered Books to Zines: Making Worlds
12:30–2:00 p.m. Lunch Break
2:00–3:00 p.m. Papers Session 5
Michael Laird, Bibliopegic Malfeasance; or: An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain 19th-century American Bookbinders’ Tickets
D Ryan Lynch, Influencers: Cordelistas as political actors in 20th and 21st century Brazil
3:00–3:15 p.m. Break
3:15–4:30 p.m. Closing Speaker
Michael Winship, Walt Whitman Makes Weird: Producing the 1855 First Edition of Leaves of Grass
4:30–5:00 p.m. Closing Remarks
Ink and Imagination: Unearthing Unconventional Printing Techniques for Baba Yaga
Creating a conversation between the text and image is at the core of my artist book process. Each decision, from paper choice and typeface to typography, image composition, and printing contributes to developing this dialog where neither text nor image are subservient to the other but contribute equally. The creation of the book Baba Yaga was a transformative personal journey, challenging my assumptions about its nature, the creative process, and the enigmatic character herself. In my talk, I will share the evolution from my childhood-inspired concept to the final result, developed over nearly two years. From researching Baba Yaga’s stories to mastering image-based storytelling and the intricacies of my unorthodox and weird approach to printing etchings, the journey of making Baba Yaga became deeply personal.
Sarah Horowitz lives at the base of the eastern Cascade Mountains in Leavenworth, Washington. Previously, Sarah was member of Atelier Mars printmaking workshop and taught printmaking at Portland State University. In addition to prints and drawings, Horowitz produces hand-printed and bound artist’s books under her imprint Wiesedruck. Horowitz recently attended residencies at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Virginia and at ArtBellwald in Bellwald, Switzerland. She has received grants from Portland State University and the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon. Her books are represented by Kenneth Shure (Gehenna Press/Two Ponds Press). More information about Sarah’s printmaking, artists’ books, special projects and imprint can be found at sarahhorowitzartist.com.
Walt Whitman Makes Weird: Producing the 1855 First Edition of Leaves of Grass
When Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass first appeared in July 1855, the world took notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson thought the work “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed” as he greeted Whitman “at the beginning of a great career.” But it is not just the text of this innovative work that deserves our attention: the physical book itself is unlike any other volume of poetry of its day. Drawing on research new and old, this paper will explore the book’s production and just what makes it weird.
Michael Winship is the Iris Howard Regents Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a bibliographer and historian of the book–with special expertise in publishing and book trade history in the United States before 1940–who has published extensively on American literary publishing. He edited and completed the final three volumes of Bibliography of American Literature (1955-91), for which he received the bibliography prize of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and he is the author of American Literary Publishing in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: The Business of Ticknor and Fields (1995). Michael also served as an editor of and contributor to the five-volume A History of the Book in America (2000–2010). His research interests are book production, publishing, and distribution in the industrial era, as well as copyright and the international trade in books.
Panelists and Paper Presenters
CHRISTINE ADAME, MEREDITH CAWLEY, BILLI LONDON-GRAY, AND HANNAH MARCH SANDERS
PANEL: Altered Books to Zines: Making Worlds
Rip, tear, sew, glue, fold, scan, print–if you can do some of these, you can self-publish. The accessibility of self-publishing technology in contemporary life means art books and print ephemera can express infinite individual subjectivities, without censorship from the status quo. This panel is about the world-building that emerges from making books and print ephemera by hand. Repurposing “trash” into book materials builds one-of-a-kind playgrounds for creative exploration, negating the need to buy a sketchbook ever again. Making zines also hones practices of attention and enables the democratic spread of information. With these various forms of making, panelists will present self-publishing methodologies that create foundations for the singular, complex, and oddball narratives we all want to share.
Christine Adame is an intermedia artist and Assistant Professor of Foundations and Graphic Design at Texas Woman’s University. Her artwork relates to heritage, especially as informed by her mestiza identity. Her work resembles artifacts built from layered processes—including drawing, fibers, digital fabrication, and printmaking. Christine earned her B.S. in Architectural Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.F.A. in Intermedia Studio from The University of Texas at Arlington. She has exhibited in Texas, the Midwest, and Japan and has led digital fabrication workshops nationally and internationally.
Meredith Cawley received an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Houston and B.F.A. from Sam Houston State University. Currently at the University of North Texas, Cawley teaches Foundations classes in the College of Visual Arts and Design. Her ten years as an outreach educator at the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History inspire, inform, and drive her practice. Her current line of inquiry focuses on how cultural opinions represent, shape, and affect the bear. This research leads to installations, zines, and sculptures of pseudo-anthropological and fantastical narratives reflecting on humanity’s relationship to the natural world.
Billi London-Gray, Visiting Assistant Professor in Foundations, University of Wyoming, is an intermedia artist who examines how we succeed and fail at living out ideals of equality. They make installations, videos, sculptures, books, zines, buttons, mail art, sound compositions, social exchanges, photos, drawings, walks, forts, and Kid-Billi forms of play. London-Gray has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. They are a recipient of the McDowell Center Innovative Project Award for Visual Artists. They hold a B.A. in theology from Criswell College, an M.A. in liberal arts from St. John’s College, and an M.F.A. in intermedia studio from The University of Texas at Arlington.
Hannah March Sanders received her B.F.A. at Tulane University and an MFA from Louisiana State University. Along with her partner, Blake, Hannah operates Orange Barrel Industries, an artist collaborative, who last summer was awarded a Windgate Distinguished Fellowship for Innovation in Craft to attend Hambidge Center Residency in Georgia. She is currently Area Head of Printmaking & Fibers, and an Associate Professor at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Recently, she was featured in the 5 Global Print for the Douro Biennial in Portugal and the International Academic Printmaking Alliance’s 3rd Printmaking Biennale in Beijing, China. <
CAIT COKER, LORI NEWCOMB, ELIAS PETROU, AND TODD SAMUELSON
PANEL: Invisible Evidence
Our present understanding of historical practices of book production and use is further enriched by attentive analysis of seemingly insignificant details that have been easily discounted as oddities and outliers in the past. This panel will present case studies of the many kinds of information that can be gleaned from close examination of early books, as we learn to more fully see the materiality of book-making in historical pasts and in the digital era. Papers will examine the ecosystems of manuscript re-use in early modern book bindings; a 15th-century Greek verse that casts type-making in a pseudo-Homeric epic light; and a 17th-century English gentlewoman book owner who is now being revalued as an active collector.
Cait Coker is Associate Professor and Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is Co-Editor of the Women in Book History Bibliography (womensbookhistory.org) and much of her work is located at the intersections of gender, genre, and print history. She has published widely on such topics as the history of women printers, the textual intersections of science fiction readers and writers, and bibliography as a discipline.
Lori Humphrey Newcomb is Associate Professor of English literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research centers on early modern British readers, especially non-elite women, while de-centering Shakespeare in our understanding of the early book trade. Her many publications examine how shared narratives, not confined to singular authors, are reshaped in emerging forms of cheap print, including prose fiction, playbooks, prose fiction, ballads, chapbooks, devotional writing, and life writing; and she is fascinated by the myriad material practices and meanings of typography, illustration, distribution, acquisition, annotation, and archiving.
Elias Petrou is Assistant Professor and Librarian of Classical, Medieval, and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is a historian and Greek paleographer with primary research areas in the Educational System in the Late Byzantine Period and the transportation of Greek Classical Literature from the East to the West. Previously he served as a Researcher at the Institute of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Vienna and as a Research Associate Specialist in the project Thesaurus Linguae Graecae at the University of California, Irvine.
Todd Samuelson is Associate Dean for Special Collections at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, where he works with other archivists and curators to develop and provide access to the Library’s manuscript, print, and media collections. His research agenda and creative work address technologies of historical book production. In recent years, he has acted as co-PI for Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation grants. He serves on the faculty of Texas A&M University’s Book History Workshop and prints artist’s books and broadsides in his home pressroom through his imprint, Fat Matter Press.
Henry Morris, longtime proprietor of the Bird & Bull Press, was inspired by the 1977 April Fool’s Day Guardian insert on the fictional typographical archipelago of San Serriffe to print a series of books and ephemera building on the San Serriffe hoax. But Morris also included a number of “San Serriffean Easter Eggs” in various of his other publications unrelated to the archipelago. This talk will explore these little-noticed but very amusing typographical asides, which provide a fascinating insight into the mind of Morris, one of the most interesting and idiosyncratic fine press printers of the late twentieth century. His San Serriffean entertainments offer a useful case study in the role of whimsy and typographical humor in the world of the private press.
Jeremy Dibbell is a Special Collections Librarian at Binghamton University. He previously held positions at Rare Book School, LibraryThing, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. He received his B.A. from Union College and M.A./M.L.S. degrees in History and Library Science from Simmons College. Along with ongoing work on early American private libraries, Jeremy is researching the history of books and printing in Bermuda and is a collector of Henry Morris’ Bird & Bull Press.
MOLLY E. DOTSON
Creeps, Bleeds, and Other Oddities around the Edges
This paper delves into the printed weird lurking around the outermost edges of a book’s pages—namely, page creep and page bleed. Bibliographic oddities if only in name, creeps and bleeds (and their dread-inducing corporeal metaphors) become points of departure to better understand the book from the outside in. With examples drawn primarily from contemporary book art, this paper explores creative use of the extremities of the printed page.
Molly Dotson is the Graphic Arts Librarian at Princeton University. Previously, she held positions as the Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Yale Center for British Art and the Assistant Director for Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library at Yale University. She received dual master’s degrees in art history and library science from Indiana University-Bloomington and a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Kentucky. In 2010, she was awarded the Kress Fellowship in Art Librarianship.
A Forgotten Purpose: Auriol as a Text Typeface
Convention holds that while “display types” have no limit on their inventiveness, “text types” must be stylistically conservative. The Auriol types challenged this presumption. These early twentieth-century types from the Parisian Peignot foundry have long been thought of as Art-Nouveau fantasies intended for display applications, but they were also cast and promoted as text types. Examining some books set in Auriol allows us to assess the foundry’s venture of a new kind of text type.
Craig Eliason is a Professor of Art History at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he has been teaching since 2002. He has presented and published research on the history of type classification, including articles in Design Issues and Printing History. More recently he has been investigating both the production and receptions of the modern-face types. A current project is considering the relationship of text to display typography in the case of the early twentieth-century Auriol type family. He is also an award-winning type designer and proprietor of Teeline Fonts.
PAUL F. GEHL
Curator of Junk Mail
Over my 30-odd years of institutional collecting on printing history for the Newberry Library, my colleagues began—at first behind my back, but increasingly frankly—to refer to me as the Curator of Junk Mail. In fact, all three of my predecessors as curator had also squirreled away contemporary and historical material of the sort. In this talk, I would like to exemplify 103 years of collecting ephemera at my institution and reflect on what it tells us about the history of printing that we cannot learn from other sources, and, more importantly, what it tells us about the history of history-of-printing collecting.
Paul Gehl, Curator Emeritus at the Newberry Library in Chicago, served for thirty years as Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing, the Newberry’s special collection on the history of printing, calligraphy, and the book. A historian with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Gehl has published on textbook history, Chicago calligraphy and design, and the history of the book trade. In recent years, his research has concentrated on the history of American book collecting.
Bibliopegic Malfeasance; or: An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain 19th-century American Bookbinders’ Tickets
Among the most brazen book thieves, document forgers, and library arsonists are Austin’s own Earl Dean Collins, John Jenkins, Dorman David, and Mimi Meyer. The present paper exposes an alarming Texas fraud that involves genuine 19th-century American bookbinders’ tickets being removed from their original bindings and pasted into contemporary unsigned ornamental bindings. These fakes are now widespread and have been unwittingly acquired by curators and private collectors alike. The fraud is calamitous for historians of American bookbinding because the tools on the fake “signed” bindings are being assigned to completely unrelated workshops, thereby infecting and eroding decades of painstaking scholarship.
Michael Laird (M.L.I.S. UT Austin 1989) is an antiquarian bookseller and independent scholar residing in Lockhart, Texas. He specializes in historic bookbindings, illustrated books, manuscripts, documents, and ephemera. He has published a number of scholarly articles and has received two major fellowships from Bibliographical Society of London. He is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and the Appraisers Association of America.
D RYAN LYNCH
Influencers: Cordelistas as Political Actors in 20th and 21st-Century Brazil
Cordels—a popular and inexpensive Luso-Brazilian chapbook genre combining verse and wood-cut images—decry political scandals, tell stories of political intrigue, and imagine a president’s arrival in hell. They also educate the population about diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus, celebrate Black identity and accomplishments, promote environmentalism, and challenge gender norms. This paper thinks about the role of politics in cordel literature, and of cordelistas (cordel creators) as political actors and influencers. It argues that cordelistas were key partners in Brazilian political and social movements in the last half of the 20th century, and that they continue to play a major role in politics and government today.
Ryan Lynch is the Head of Special Collections and Brazilian Studies Librarian for the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. A specialist in mid-20th century Brazilian cultural history, he has worked in libraries, archives, and museums throughout the United States.
Revitalizing Werkman: Maverick Designer and Printmaker
This paper explores the life and work of Hendrik Werkman, a Dutch avant-garde designer and printmaker known for his innovative printing techniques and typography, including his development of the “hot printing” technique. Despite his tragic fate during World War II, Werkman’s graphic work remains a testament to his playful, bold, and experimental vision. Werkman’s legacy continues to inspire contemporary printmakers, as demonstrated by successful workshops teaching his techniques.
Jamie Mahoney is Assistant Professor of the Graphic Design Program in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts and Director of Bowe House Press. As Editor and Creative Director of a semiannual letterpress publication, Mahoney teams students with poets to produce artists books that have been recently accessioned by special collections libraries at Yale, UCLA, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Scripps College’s Denison Library, NYU, and elsewhere. In addition to printmaking, Mahoney teaches the history of graphic design at VCU. Her research looks beyond the narrative of our textbooks and highlights designers who fall outside the margins of this story.
LEGO Print Lab
The LEGO Print Lab project is an innovative experiment that explores the potential of combining 3D printing technology with traditional letterpress techniques. The project aimed to create LEGO-type letterforms using a 3D printer, which can then be assembled the LEGO System to form a functional type chase. The LEGO Print Lab project provides a unique and exciting way to introduce students to the fundamentals of typography and printing. By combining 3D printing technology with traditional letterpress techniques, students are given the opportunity to explore the potential of new and emerging technologies while also learning about the history and craft of printing.
Yasmin Rodriguez is a graphic designer, artist, and professor at Fresno State with four years of experience in higher education. Her work explores the intersection of new and old technology, often incorporating digital tools into traditional media. Yasmin’s practice ranges from traditional graphic design and digital illustration to 3D printing, laser cutting, and printmaking. As an educator, she is passionate about mentoring young artists and designers and fostering a creative and inclusive learning environment. Yasmin is committed to pushing the boundaries of design and art through experimentation and innovation.
‘The Page Half-Writ’: Michael Field, Vale Press, and the (Trans)History of Queer Print
This paper explores the relationship between Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, a lesbian couple who wrote under the joint pseudonym Michael Field, and Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, a gay couple who collaboratively published Field, Oscar Wilde, and other queer poets in lavish art deco editions. Using Field’s diaries and letters exchanged between the two couples, I posit that this friendship gives us a window into a queer print culture in Victorian England, and reflect on my own reprinting of some of the Michael Field poems to bring their queer and genderqueer possibilities back to life in our own time.
Jacob Romm is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint program between Comparative Literature and Early Modern Studies at Yale University, where he is also working on certificates in translation studies and book history. His research interests include trans and queer histories of the early modern period, cultural and literary exchanges between Jewish and Christian communities, and the history of the printed book. Jacob translates from French, Yiddish, and Hebrew and is currently translating the Yiddish poet Menke Katz as a Yiddish Book Center fellow. He also is an enthusiastic student of the art of letterpress printing, and has recently started a tiny print shop, Letter and Spirit Press.
Ojalá: Material and Moral Cheapness on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Levi will discuss a contemporary artists’ book that harnesses print history to challenge the status quo at the US-Mexico border: Ojalá by Philip Zimmermann and Ernesto León De la Rosa-Carrillo. He will demonstrate that the book’s exaggerated halftone is key among its visual and verbal tactics that counter what Élisa Ganivet calls border wall aesthetics. In appropriating violent imagery from nota roja publications, Ojalá walks a tightrope between disrupting and reinscribing the violence of the border. With careful attention to—and historical awareness of—print production, the artists successfully hijack the material cheapness of sensationalism to critique its moral cheapness.
Levi Sherman is a Ph.D. student in Art History at University of Wisconsin—Madison, where he studies artists’ books, publishing as an art practice, and the larger intersection of contemporary art, books, and libraries. He is also interested in digital humanities and the future of scholarly communication. With a background in art and design, Levi maintains a studio practice and cooperates an experimental small press. He is also the founder and editor of Artists’ Book Reviews.
Unconventional Characters: The Use of Printers’ Ornaments in 18th-Century Spanish Plays
Plays written during the Golden Age of Spanish literature were printed in individual sheets or booklets and left unbound, hence the term comedias sueltas (“loose plays” in Spanish). They were ephemeral, affordable, and accessible to a wide range of readers, including the lower classes, and covered various genres, including comedy, drama, history, and tragedy. The HRC has a very large collection of comedias sueltas, and much can be learned about Spanish printing history from the early 17th to mid-19th century by their study. This presentation will contextualize these plays, discuss why there is such a large number of them, and provide an overview of the variety of printers’ ornaments—headpieces, tailpieces, vignettes, etc.—that appear in them. Examples will be drawn primarily from the HRC’s collection as much as possible.
Szilvia Szmuk-Tanenbaum earned her Ph.D. in Spanish literature at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. As a special collections librarian, she has always had a keen interest in the history of books and printing. Her website Comedias Sueltas USA combines her background in Spanish Golden Age drama as seen through the lens of printing ephemera. Its database is a census of comedias sueltas held in U.S. academic and research libraries, and it is a unique resource for scholars researching Spanish theater, book history, and print culture in Iberia before the machine press period.
ZANNA VAN LOON
Leaving the Wrong Impression?: An Intriguing Copy of Aldus Manutius’ Orthographiae ratio (1564) Published by Christophe Plantin
In 2021, Museum Plantin-Moretus acquired a later edition of the Orthographiae ratio, Aldus Manutius’ treatise on Latin orthography published by Antwerp printer Christophe Plantin (ca. 1520–1589) in 1564. This paper will explore why several pages in the copy bound in a brown goatskin binding with the printer’s mark of the Officina Plantiniana and the motto “Labore et Constantia” tooled with gold on the binding contains unusual loose “dancing” type in the margins.
Zanna Van Loon is Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, Belgium. Her research interests include the materiality and sociality of the early printed book, book trade networks and print culture. She previously worked as the expert on analytical bibliography and the project leader of STCV: The Bibliography of the Hand Press Book at the Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheken vzw. In 2020 Zanna obtained a Ph.D. in Early Modern Book History at KU Leuven on the social and material characteristics of early modern manuscripts and printed books on Indigenous languages of North and South America. Her monograph on the subject will appear soon at Amsterdam University Press.
‘Peculiarly Suited’: When Typesetting Became Women’s Work
Following the transition from hot-metal composition to Linotype and then teletype printers, the typesetting labor force in the U.S. and Canada shifted from majority male to majority female over the course of the 20th century. By contrast, in American colonial and frontier societies it was not uncommon to find women printers and publishers practicing alongside their male counterparts. This presentation will critique the normalization of gender division in the modern typesetting industry, probing its entanglements with technological innovation, organized labor, and capitalism. The research foregrounds primary texts written by women typesetters from the 1960s–80s.
M. Wright is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Tulsa and co-director of OK Stamp Press (Montreal), whose book design work has received awards from the Type Directors Club, the New York Book Show, the Chicago Book Clinic, and AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers. A past fellow at the Harry Ransom Center and recipient of a research support grant from Harvard University, their research is driven by an interest in marginalized histories. They hold an M.F.A. in Visual Communication Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an A.B. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.
Looking at Chinese Woodblocks: A Revised Account of the Technology, its Imprints, and Production Costs
This paper addresses the historical roles and impact of woodblock printing in late imperial China. With new perspectives drawn from archival sources and scholarship accounts, it examines how woodblock printing and its output have been shaped and evaluated within a different set of economic and technical considerations. It seeks to reorientate the perception of “printing before typography” without drawing a simple analogy with Gutenberg’s heritage.
Ring Yong is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. She is currently working on her research project, “Typographical variation in Chinese print: missionaries, metal type and printing press in late imperial China (1813–1860)”. Her research focuses on the transition of printing technology from woodblock to typography in the Chinese community.
Sponsors and Partners
The Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection
The CODEX Foundation
Questions? Please contact the APHA Conference Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.