“Black Bibliographia: Print/Culture/Art”
April 26-27, 2019
University of Delaware
A symposium hosted by the
in collaboration with
UD Library, Museums & Press and the
College of Arts & Sciences’ Paul R. Jones Initiative
Jacqueline Goldsby (Yale University) & Meredith McGill (Rutgers University)
Tia Blassingame (Scripps College)
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.
The question “What is a black book?” is implicit in the work of scholars and curators who examine histories of African American print production and reading. It is equally germane to artists and printers experimenting with the book and other print forms today. To address this question, “Black Bibliographia: Print/Culture/Art” will host an exchange of ideas across longstanding divides of discipline and practice. The symposium invites participation from individuals invested in books and other print objects as material forms, aesthetic inventions, circulating texts, and repositories of design. In this way, “Black Bibliographia” aims to build on a growing body of work in African American print culture—already rich in nineteenth-century studies—while also inviting reassessment of the material life of black bookmaking and print production in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The purpose of “Black Bibliographia: Print/Culture/Art,” is to think theoretically and practically about a number of questions: What are the aesthetics of black books, conceived in the broadest terms, and how can we bring book history, visual studies, and material culture into closer collaboration? In what ways has black textuality challenged the boundaries of print forms past and present, and how do the book arts make such interventions visible? How does attention to the innovations of print workers—from typesetters to booksellers to mimeograph operators—reframe black textuality? From the strategic adoption of typographic conventions by black printers and publishers of the early twentieth century to the radical break from those conventions in the alternative press of the 1960s and ‘70s, how do the arts of the book speak to our conceptions and constructions of blackness?
“Black Bibliographia” represents the second biennial conference sponsored by the Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. We invite participants from all fields—book artists, librarians, archivists, collectors, art historians, editors, digital humanists, and scholars working across the disciplines of literature, design, history, and Black Studies—to join us in critically investigating the past and futures of black bookmaking, paper arts, print cultures, and technologies of transmission, reproduction, and reading.