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Centre for the Book
Events and Opportunities related to Books at the University of Otago

A Close Approximation to Normal–2020 Symposium CFP

The Centre for the Book is delighted to announce that we have been granted modest funding to enable us to hold the annual research symposium.  We will not attempt to fly-in a keynote this year, so the symposium will take place from 10–5 on Friday, 20 November.  This year’s theme is ‘Booking Travel’ and you can download the Call for Papers and tell all your friends.  We are able to accept pre-recorded presentations followed by live Q&A via Zoom, so please do not let distance keep you away.  We are still confirming ability to stream the event for those remote participants, but expect that this will be possible.

Latest NZCT Title Released

The NZ Colonial Text series is proud to announce Jim Sullivan’s edition of W. M. Southan’s 1881 novel, The Two Laywers.  Set mainly in TImaru, the novel is a Victorian goldfield melodrama that provides a lively sense of its place and time.  Jim’s extensive introduction also demonstrates that truth is definitely stranger than fiction, as he recounts the lives of a number novelists of the day.  The Timaru Herald has published a story on the edition, from which the image here is taken.

10 printed copies are available for purchase from the English and Linguistics programme at Otago for $30.  As soon as those are sold, a PDF version will be released via OURarchive for free.

Postponement of Dunedin Rare Book School

Although it may not come as a huge surprise to anyone, it is
nonetheless a disappointment to have to announce that the Dunedin Rare
Book School planned for 1–5 February 2021 has been deferred until late
January/early February 2022.  The consortia of other Australasian
schools (Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington) will all continue the
normal rotation from 2023 on.  I apologise for any inconvenience, and
hope you will be able to join us once travel is easier for everyone.

A Delightful Literary Guest Posting

Jane Austen’s House Museum,
Chawton, Hampshire.

The Centre for the Book is delighted to present for your reading pleasure “From Austen to the Brontёs: A Literary Tour of England,” by Margaux Warne.  Originally destined for The Listener, Margaux turned to us when Covid-19 forced a change of plans.

Margaux Warne is an independent Art Historian based in Christchurch. She studied Art History at the University of Canterbury and her research focuses on nineteenth-century art and literature. Two of her favourite nineteenth-century novels are Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

A Quiet Departure from his Formal Post

Donald Kerr officially retired from his position as Special Collections Librarian on the 8th of April, with all fanfare subdued by lockdown.  However, the Bulletin has provided a nice tribute acknowledging his numerous accomplishments during his 18 years on the job.

We look forward to Donald’s continued involvement as co-director of the Centre for the Book and other learned activities in Dunedin and wish him all the best as he forges ahead with even more time for research on book collectors, Henry Miller and his other wide range of interests.

And when conditions once more permit, there will be a proper farewell function as well.

Book History Podcasts

book iglooAlthough we cannot currently provide live events, The Centre for the Book is pleased to be able to at least offer pointers to online options for sustaining those craving a regular dose of book history to inoculate the mind.

Our first suggestion is the Canadian series, The Biblio File, presented by Nigel Beale.  Beale interviews scholars, publishers and librarians about the world of books.  You have to drill down a bit into his archives to see the full range, or you can search by keyword.  Either way, you are guaranteed to find some interesting and very bookish interviews.

Donald Kerr on the Current Exhibition

If you were not up late the other night and so missed Donald’s interview on National Radio, you can catch it again here.  Learn all about the current exhibition in Special Collections devoted to bookplates and other indications of ownership.  And then call by to check out the originals.

National Radio has been quite bookish of late, in fact, and while you are on the site, you might check out Paul Tankard’s discussion of the Alice in Wonderland illustrations by John Tenniel. also broadcast later in the evening following the Centre for the Book dinner.

Public Lecture on Important Science Book, Tuesday 10 March, 5:30 pm

The Centre for the Book is pleased to welcome Prof. John Christie, a historian of medicine in Dunedin to work with the Monro Collection.  Prof. Christie will speak on “Gender and Representation in Eighteenth-Century Science,” looking at, among other topics, Lavoisier’s Elements of Chemistry (1789; tr English 1790).  However, as you can tell from the title, his discussion will range widely and not require a deep knowledge of the history of Chemistry.

We hope you can join us for what promises to be a proper exemplification of Enlightenment.  The lecture will take place on Tuesday, 10 March at 5:30 pm. on the second floor of Mellor Laboratories, seminar room 2.15  All welcome.

World Book Day Lecture 2020

The CeProf. Sydney Shep, Wellingtonntre for the Book is delighted to welcome one of NZ’s own luminaries of the print culture world,  Dr. Sydney Shep, to deliver the World Book Day Lecture on Thursday, 5 March 2020 in Archway 3.  Her topic will engage book history in its fullest sense—looking at an important NZ book in its historical context but also challenging the ways book historians have traditionally talked about such texts.  It promises to be an exciting evening.

“If Books Could Talk.”
Bibliographers are trained in the forensics of the material book and speak in a language that appears at once arcane and quaint. Terms such as duodecimo, signatures, chain lines, catchwords, morocco, gauffering, collation formulae are liberally sprinkled throughout their conversations. But what if the books themselves could talk? As the German philosopher Walter Benjamin asked in 1916, “What would they tell us? Or are they speaking already and we just don’t hear them?” Join me for an excursion into object autobiography as I listen to a copy of Williams’ Māori Dictionary (1844) that travelled the world and eavesdrop on examples of contemporary letterpress printing that cross linguistic, visual and material boundaries.

Dr Sydney J. Shep is Reader in Book History and The Printer, Wai-te-ata Press | Te Whare Tā O Wai-te-ata at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her practice-based research involves the interdisciplinary study of transnational and cross-cultural book history and print culture, in the contexts of the history of empire, history of technology, and the history of reading. Topics of perennial interest include graffiti, ghost signs, generative art, and the digital handmade. Sydney is a Past President of SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing), a 2018-19 British Academy Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton, and a government-appointed Kaitiaki | Guardian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

You are also invited to join Dr. Shep and a loyal band of Centre for the Book supporters for the annual dinner at the Staff Club following the lecture.  Tickets are $50 and are available from Donald Kerr in Special Collections (cash or cheque).

Reading Practices Survey–Call for Participants

Now is your chance to contribute to international research.  I don’t know how much good the Canadian book token would do anyone in NZ, but the scholars organising the project really want input from New Zealand, so we’ve agreed to help them spread the word.  And who doesn’t like talking about what they’re reading? Please feel free to pass this on via social media or other modes; the more informants, the more accurate the results.

“We are writing to invite you to participate in our latest research project on reading practices. This time around we are looking to get a snapshot of what you are reading, how much you’re reading, how you find out about books to read, and about where you share what you’re reading.

Please help us. The survey will take no longer than 10 minutes to complete, and you’d be helping out a great deal. As a token of our appreciation, you can put your name into a draw for a bookseller gift certificate.

Here is a link to the survey:

Your responses are completely anonymous. At the end of the survey, there’ll be a link to put your name into a draw for a CD$100 (CDN) bookseller gift certificate, but your email address and your survey responses are completely separate from one another.

Thank you very much for taking our survey. Please forward this to your friends and family.

Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo”