Workshop in the  History of  Material Texts
HMT About Search Events Impact

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.)


We'll be back on the 6th floor of Van Pelt Library in Fall 2021. Thanks to everyone who made this year over Zoom so wonderful. We're hard at work trying to figure out to use Zoom in the in-person workshop next year. We have posted recordings of last year's talks online through our YouTube channel.


The Stallybrass Prize in the History of Material Texts

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.

Congratulations to our Spring 2021 winners!

Undergraduate Category:

Winner: Vito Acosta, "The Act of Authorship in Early China"

Honorable Mention: Zoe Braccia, “‘Payment Received in Full’: Women’s Labor Contributions to the Philadelphia Printing Industry at the Turn of the 19th Century”

Graduate Category:

Co-winner: Drew Starling, “Unmasking Publius: Authorial Attribution and the Making of The Federalist”

Co-winner: Natale Vacalebre, “Divine Markets: Producing, Selling and Reading Dante’s Commedia in the Early Typographic Age"


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