Varieties of Textual Experience: a Symposium on the Material Text Across the Disciplines

April 1, 2016; Miller Library, Colby College

This one-day symposium brought together scholars from across the humanities to discuss the role of the material text in their research and scholarly practice. The bibliographic scholar D.F. McKenzie famously asserted that the form of a text inevitably shapes its meaning; from contemporary internet cultures to medieval manuscripts, how do we account for this in the specific archives, media, and disciplinary contexts in which we conduct our work?

This event was generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School, the Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Colby English Department.

For questions, please contact Megan Cook at


Session I

Sonja Drimmer (Art History, University of Massachusetts Amherst), “Beyond Dullness: Varieties of Lydgatean Experience”

Anita Savo (Spanish, Colby College), “Bound for Greatness: The Legacy of Don Juan Manuel”

Liza Strakhov (English, Marquette University), “Reading Chaucer’s Anelida and Arcite, or Why Manuscript Layout Matters”



Session II

Joel Anderson (History, University of Maine Orono), “Officialdom in the North: Writing Documents at the Edge of the Medieval World”

Libby Nutting (History, Bates College), “Reading Against the Grain: Looking for Women and Minorities in Premodern Archives”

Sarah Watkins (History, Colby College), “Translating Orality: Theorizing Textual Recordings of African Oral Literature”



Session III

Marina Bilbija (English, Harvard University), “On Literary Workers: Black Editorial Practices and the Cultivation of ‘Race Literature’ in the Colored American Magazine”

Benjamin Lisle (American Studies, Colby College), “A Paper Stadium: Interpreting the 1965 Astrodome Souvenir Program”

Kim Schwenk (Lux Mentis Booksellers), “Print Matters: Zines as Archive of Record”