Books to Blogs & Back

Books to Blogs and Back Weekend
November 15, 2007 - November 18, 2007
Books to Blogs and Back

The transition surrounding the dawning of the "information age" has engendered speculation about the shift from the printing press using movable type to the computer with its keyboard and mouse. How has this shift affected the production and distribution of, and access to information? Two days of dynamic programming at Mount Holyoke College will explore a range of issues associated with the history and the future of the book.

- About the Program -

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Keynote lecture
“The Research Library in the New Age of Information”
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Gamble Auditorium
7:00 pm

Robert Darnton
, recently named Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of Harvard University Library, has helped to create the field known as “the history of the book.” A former Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Fellow, as well as Chevalier of France’s Légion d’honneur, Darnton is internationally recognized for his work on the literary world of Enlightenment in France as well as the history of the book in general. Announcing his appointment last May, Harvard Provost Steven Hyman described him as “an entrepreneur in exploring electronic books, Web publishing, and other forms of new media.”

For his presentation, “The Research Library in the New Age of Information,” Darnton asks: How can we get our bearings in the new landscape created by the explosion of information technology? An attempt to put the present in historical perspective suggests two arguments. According to the first, technological change since the invention of writing has increased at such an accelerating rate that we have entered a new era, one without precedent: the information age. According to the second, every age is an age of information, each in its own way, and the current sense of bewilderment at the textual chaos in cyberspace ignores a fundamental fact: texts have always been unstable. Whether we consider the daily newspaper or the First Folio of Shakespeare, we encounter shifts in meaning produced in the very process of transmission. Instead of entering a new era, therefore, we may be suffering from a collective case of false consciousness. But the modern modes of communicating information have created a new role for research libraries. They still stand at the center of campuses, their architecture proclaiming their importance for the preservation of knowledge. But behind their classical facades they store and transmit digitized information in new ways. Far from being made obsolete by enterprises like Google, they function as platforms for developing new kinds of scholarship; and they may be crucial in correcting some of the inadequacies of Google itself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Books to Blogs Expo
Mount Holyoke College Library, Information, & Technology Services (LITS)
Miles-Smith Wing, Information Commons
9:00 – 11:00 am

Interactive activities and exhibits relating to the history of book creation and publication, for more information on this interactive symposium, please visit:
• A bookbinding display with Peter Geraty of Praxis Bindery in Easthampton, Massachusetts
• Small letterpress printing demonstration by master printer Carl Darrow of Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts
• University of Massachusetts Press, Bruce Wilcox
• Modern Memoirs Private Publishing, Kitty Axelson-Berry
• An Online Self-Publishing Display
• Zines: Alternative, Self-Published, Non-commercial Works
• Kirtas APT BookScan Gold Book Scanner by Joseph Merritt & Company
• Blogs in Action: An Interactive Demonstration
• Assistive Technology, How Technology Has Helped the Disabled Display

“A Farewell to Gutenberg”
Mount Holyoke College LITS, Dwight 101
11:00 am

Jason Epstein
has been involved in book publishing since the 1950s. At Doubleday he created Anchor Books, which helped to propel the so-called “paperback revolution” and established the trade paperback format. With colleagues, he founded the New York Review of Books and in the 1982 created the Library of America, the prestigious publisher of American classics. For many years, he was editorial director of Random House. He also created the Readers Catalog of Back Titles, a precursor to online stores like Amazon; and co-founded OnDemandBooks, the company that sells the book vending machine.

Epstein will discuss how new digital technologies make the book publishing industry obsolete, but not the book itself. Rather, he sees digital technology as an opportunity to replace publishers – physical inventories and costly infrastructure – with deep virtual inventory that will be ubiquitously cheaply available to readers via print-on-demand machines, or Book ATMs.

Panel discussion
“The Past and Future of the Book”
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Gamble Auditorium
1:30 pm

Corey Flintoff
, National Public Radio, moderator

Terry Belanger, University Professor and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia since 1992, is the founding director of the Rare Book School (RBS) there. Between 1972 and 1992, he ran a master's program for the training of rare book and special collections librarians at the Columbia School of Library Service. A 2005 MacArthur Fellow, he has given his $500,000 award to RBS support its work. He is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the importance of the book in an increasingly digital world and to getting “books as physical objects from where they’re not wanted to where they are.” For his presentation, “Books and Horses,” Belanger will take as his text a statement by Sandra Kirshenbaum (editor of Fine Print, 1975-1990) who has pointed out that the future of the codex book may turn out to be similar to that of the horse. There are still plenty of horses in the world, but they are now employed more for recreational purposes than for their horsepower. In a coda following his consideration of the long past of the codex book, he will speculate on its possible futures.

Sven Birkerts, essayist and literary critic, has taught writing at Emerson College and Mount Holyoke College and is currently lecturer at Harvard University. Since 2002, Birkerts has been editor of AGNI, the acclaimed literary journal, which also has a web-based version. He is most well known for writing The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, which posits a decline in reading due to the overwhelming advances of the Internet and other technologies of the electronic age. In The Gutenberg Elegies, he has written: “Our growing immersion in interactive electronic communication” may be “cutting us off from the civilizing powers of the written word.” In his presentation, “The Hive Life,” based on a recent AGNI essay, he will focus less on the book itself than on the changing information environment, the shift to the merged and collective at the expense of the subjective/individual, which the book has for so long enshrined.

Lisa Gitelman is Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies, Catholic University in Washington D.C. . She studies media as uniquely complicated subjects of history. In her recent Always Already New: Media, History and the Data of Culture, she writes: “A modern sense of history . . . is inextricable from experiences of inscription, of writing, print, photography, sound recording, cinema, and now—one must wonder—digital media that save text, image, and sound files. Specifically, when media are new, they help to challenge deeply held assumptions about the ways that meaning is authored and conveyed, revealing the points at which those assumptions remain importantly unsettled.” In her presentation, “Reading at Risk,” she casts her gaze toward the future of the book, focusing in part on novel reading. She will ask, for example, how in 200 years moral panic about reading novels has shifted to moral panic about not reading novels.

Mount Holyoke College LITS, Williston Library Courtyard
3:30 pm

Admission to Books to Blogs and Back and other programs is free; donations are welcome. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sat./Sun., 1-5 p.m., and is fully accessible. Parking is available nearby. For a directions and a map of the campus please visit

Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture Book Art The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Opening Reception
5 - 7 p.m.

Organized collaboratively by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY, this exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of the best American picture books art of the last decade and explores the theme of the changing image of the child. Children Should Be Seen opens with a rare grouping of illustrations chosen from some of the most significant works of American picture book art of the last half-century. The core of the exhibition consists of artworks dating from 1997 to 2007 and is grouped by the following sub-themes with the aim of highlighting American picture book artists' interpretations of six of childhood's formative stages and experiences: The New Child; The Child and Family; The Child At School and At Play; The Child in the Community; The Child in History; The Questioning Child; and the New Picture Book.

Saturday, November 17

The Printer's Apprentice
Historic Deerfield, Wilson Print Shop
10:30 - 4 p.m.

Master printer Carl Darrow will demonstrate the technique of printing on a replica of an 18th-century wooden hand press. Free with Museum admission.

Shakespeare's Genealogies
Wistariahurst Museum
November 17, 2007
4 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public
A talk and booksigning by Vanessa James on the release of her new book Shakespeare's Genealogies.

Author Vanessa James continues to indulge people's fascination with genealogies by uncovering the familial relationships of over 1,000 of William Shakespeare's characters across all forty-two of his plays and dramatic poems. These lineages intrigues and inspired Shakespeare, as he used familial relationships to create plots driven by familial jealousy, lust, passion, and murder, not to mention those oldest of theatrical devices, mistaken identities and separated siblings. James's new work is a necessary companion for Shakespeare aficionados everywhere. This book is a follow-up to her critically acclaimed Genealogy of Greek Mythology, in which she reveals the lineage of over 3,000 mythical gods and mortals from ancient Greek texts. british-born Vanessa James is Professor and Chair of Theater Arts at Mount Holyoke College.

A reception and booksigning immediately following the talk.

Wistariahurst Museum, 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA.

Special BookMarks Film
Jacob the Liar (Jakob der Luegner)
2 p.m.

Based on the novel by Jurek Becker. His widow, Christine Becker, will be at Amherst Cinema to talk about Jurek Becker's life and written work.

Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards 1977 Silver Bear, Berlin International Film Festival 1975 Amherst Cinema Arts Center

For more information on these events, please go to our Exhibitions/Programming page.