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 meet each Monday on the 6th floor of Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania. We also live-stream our events via Zoom. For updates and Zoom links, please sign up for our listserv.

Recordings of previous talks are available on our YouTube channel.


Next Meeting

On Monday, November 27th at 5:15 PM, Heidi Brayman (UC Riverside) for a talk entitled: "Blind Impressions and Mute Typography in The Faerie Queene (1590)”

Heidi Brayman writes and teaches about the literature and culture of early modern England (1500-1700). She is the author of Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (Cambridge UP, 2005) and the co-editor with Catherine Kelly of Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). Her current book project, “‘Dumb Eloquence’: Deafness, Muteness, and Gesture in Early Modern England,” is a cultural history of muteness and manual gesture across four institutions — the theater, law, education, and religion — that engaged significantly with vocal silence and the problems it poses.


The Stallybrass Prize in the History of Material Texts, 2023

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 2023 winners!

Undergraduate Category:

Winner: Erin Brennan, "Popular Culture: The Cries of London and Elite Exoticism of the Common People"

Honorable Mention: Magnolia Wang, “A Woman’s Work is Never Done: Examining the Intersection of Gender Identity and Racialization in Indigenous Governance and Early American Colonization”

Graduate Category:

Co-winners: Zain Mian, "Through the Lens of Urdu: Reading World Literature in Adabī dunyā" and Anna Lehr Mueser " 'So the memories need not fade': Writing Continuity Across Rupture"


2023-2024 Recordings

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