Howsam Featured at Next Mason Talk

Dr. Leslie Howsam will give a presentation on book history at the next Julian D. Mason Talk on Rare Books, scheduled for April 10 at 4:00 PM in the Halton Reading Room in Atkins Library. The title of her talk is, "Book History: a niche for nerds, or essential knowledge?"


Over 30 years ago the history of the book was characterized as “interdisciplinarity run riot” – Robert Darnton’s term for the myriad approaches to a protean but disorderly subject. Now we think in terms of authorship, publishing, reading, and the preservation of books as material objects. Interdisciplinarity refers to literary, historical, media, and library studies and practitioners identify ourselves as “book historians.” But what do we all share? This lecture will interrogate the tension between specialist and popular knowledge: one arcane or inaccessible, and the other based on myths that specialists have dispelled. What book history teaches is a way of thinking that we can use to engage with colleagues, students, and fellow-citizens.

Dr. Leslie Howsam is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Distinguished University Professor (Emerita) at the University of Windsor. She holds an honorary Senior Research Fellowship at Ryerson University’s Centre for Digital Humanities in Toronto. She was president of the international Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing from 2009 to 2013, and serves as General Editor for the series Studies in Book and Print Culture published by the University of Toronto Press. Her major publications include The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book, which she edited for Cambridge University Press (2015). In 2009 the British Library and the University of Toronto Press jointly published Past into Print: the publishing of History in Britain 1850-1950. This was based on lectures delivered as part of her James P. R. Lyell Readership in Bibliography (University of Oxford 2005-6). Perhaps her best-known book is Old Books & New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in Book & Print Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2006).

The event is co-sponsored by Atkins Library Special Collections & University Archives and Sigma Tau Delta.