Welcome to the website for the University of Pennsylvania's Workshop in the History of Material Texts! Here you can find announcements about upcoming events as well as a searchable database of seminars we have held since the fall of 1996. (Information about speakers and talks from the initial years of the Workshop has unfortunately been lost. If you have such information, please contact us.)
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we're going virtual for spring 2021. Our schedule is now posted on our Events page. We are also posting recordings of our talks online through our YouTube channel. Check back weekly for new videos.
We'll be off next week for "spring break" but will be back on March 15th with a talk by Michael Winship (UT-Austin) titled "The Penalty in Alabama is Death! For Selling My Bondage and My Freedom."
The Stallybrass Prize in the History of Material Texts will be awarded annually to the two best essays by students in any school at Penn—one by an undergraduate, one by a graduate student—on any aspect of how texts take material form and circulate in the world. Our field covers texts of all kinds, from printed books, manuscripts, scrolls, and tablets, to e-readers, websites, hard disks, and server farms; from illuminations, woodcuts, and engravings, to GIFs and TIFFs; from title pages, flyleaf advertisements, and dealer catalogues, to listservs and email signatures. We are interested in printing and publishing histories, authorship, reception, piracy, censorship, and all themes related to the networks through which these texts circulate.
The Prize honors Peter Stallybrass, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor Emeritus of English, who founded Penn's Workshop in the History of Material Texts in 1993. The seminar has been meeting every Monday evening since then, at 5:15 in the Kislak Center, Van Pelt Library. It has been one of the most influential institutions in the field and has led to numerous similar workshops around the world.
Like the Workshop itself, we encourage work that brings together the technical, material, and cultural aspects of texts. Essays will be judged by the directors of the Workshop and members of its Advisory Board, listed on the About page.
In order to be considered, submissions must be received by April 15, 2021, through the form at:
Essays should be no more than 10,000 words (but can be shorter, of course).
1) For undergraduates: essays must have been written in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, or Spring 2021 semesters;
2) For graduate students: essays must be unpublished work.