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Frederic Alden Warren Lecture | A Bibliographical Disturbance: Teaching and Learning in Book History After 2020
The John W. Graham Library at Trinity College is proud to present the 19th Frederic Alden Warren Lecture, delivered by Alan Galey.


When something disrupts the normal process of making a book, the disruption often leaves a material trace which textual scholars call a “bibliographical disturbance.” The year 2020 will long be remembered as a similar kind of disruption writ large, leaving its own material traces in our scholarship, careers, and lives. For the Book History & Print Culture (BHPC) program Prof. Galey directs at the University of Toronto, 2020 also happened to be its twentieth anniversary as a graduate program. What should have been a year of celebration instead became a year of adaptation, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to rethink BHPC’s normally library-based, book-focused courses for remote delivery. BHPC’s twentieth anniversary became an occasion to re-examine the field’s rationale and pedagogy—just as bibliographical disturbances are opportunities to understand how a book was made.

In that spirit, this talk will reflect on lessons that Prof. Galey and his colleagues in the BHPC program have learned about book history education during the pandemic. From the representation of physical books on Zoom screens, to the reliability of digitizations, to the status of born-digital literature, to the social value of the book arts, to questions about diversity and equity in the field of book history—2020 brought a reckoning with all these topics and more. Yet book history education has never been more necessary than today, and textual scholarship has important work to do in the post-2020 world. This talk will look back on what we’ve learned from twenty years of book history at the University of Toronto, and will look ahead to the next twenty.


The Warren Lecture was endowed by Trinity College alumna Hilary Nicholls in memory of her father. The lecture series' theme is literature, libraries, and culture – broadly interpreted.

Apr 26, 2022 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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