Category Archives: Publishing

2/2 @ 6PM “Blooks”: The Arts of Books that Aren’t

A panel discussion with Mindell Dubansky (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Lynn Festa (Rutgers University), and Bruce and Lynn Heckman (collectors).  Part of the Book History Colloquium at Columbia.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

6:00 PM8:30 PM

Go Set a Watchman in the papers of Harper Lee’s literary agents

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Nelle Harper Lee, photographed by friend Michael Brown in October 1957, the same month that she signed the contract with Lippincott.

HarperCollins publishes Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman today, July 14, 2015.  With an initial print run of 2 million copies, this is the most highly anticipated book release of the year, carefully promoted by HarperCollins since their February 3rd announcement .

Go Set a Watchman’s publication has also generated advance press in the form of controversy. HarperCollins has billed the novel as a sequel to the Pulitzer prize-winning and perennially best-selling To Kill a Mockingbird. But Lee’s biographer Charles Shields asserts that Go Set a Watchman was an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.

In The Washington Post, Neely Tucker questioned the timing of the decision to publish the novel sixty years after its composition and within months of the death of Nelle Lee’s protective older sister, Alice.  Alexandra Alter and Serge Kovaleski in The New York Times have pointed out discrepancies in the narrative about GSAW‘s composition and re-discovery given by HarperCollins and Lee’s current lawyer, Tonya Carter.  NPR books also reviews the debate about the novel’s genesis and the decision to publish.

The papers of Nelle Harper Lee’s literary agents, Annie Laurie Williams and Maurice Crain, held by the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, have factored in these debates.  The visitor cards kept by Williams track the submission of manuscripts by agency authors and provide a detailed timeline for the creation and eventual shelving of the manuscript for Go Set a WatchmanALW_VisitorCard_1 ALW_VisitorCard_2ALW_VisitorCard_3On the series of sequentially numbered cards above, one can see that starting on January 14, 1957, Harper Lee began delivering the pages of Go Set a Watchman at a steady pace of approximately fifty pages per week until it is noted as completed on February 27, 1957.  The manuscript then underwent editing, and by October 17, 1957, a fully edited manuscript was sold to J.B. Lippincott without a title, a fact corroborated by Maurice Crain’s facsimile of the contract in a contracts ledger, the first page of which is pictured below.Crain_Contract-1Lee then spent two years revising the novel. On the third of the sequential notecards pictured above (note the typed numbers in the upper-right corner of the notecards), a new title for the novel contracted by Lippincott emerges: To Kill a Mockingbird.  A separate card (below) from a file that Annie Laurie Williams kept for manuscripts also illustrates the change of title.  Filed under Lippincott, To Kill a Mockingbird appears above Go Set a Watchman, which has been crossed out. This emendation and the sequence of submissions noted in the visitor cards supports Nelle Lee’s comment that GSAW is the “parent” of TKAM, a novel set in Maycomb years after the plot of TKAM but drafted before.ALW_LippincotManuscriptCard_1Annie Laurie Williams (1894-1977) was already a successful literary agent known for Hollywood successes such as Gone with the Wind (1939) by the time she and Maurice Crain teamed up as life and business partners. Together Williams and Crain handled the work of literary greats such as John Steinbeck and Nelle Harper Lee.  Williams donated her and Crain’s papers to Columbia University in 1971.

Nelle Lee first contacted the agents in 1956. The earliest visitor cards in the collection note that Lee first submitted short stories to her agents and that they first received her as a friend of Truman Capote. The papers of Williams and Crain show that they developed a close friendship with Lee, whom they often invited to join them at their weekend home in Connecticut. But documentation concerning Lee’s writing and revision process is scant, perhaps because so much of the discussion was conducted in person.

A statement published in the WSJ yesterday by Tonja Carter, as well as Jonathan Mahler’s New York Times article focusing on Lee’s relationship to her editor at Lippincott, Tay Hohoff, suggests that there is more evidence to consider as this newly visible work changes the conversation about one of the country’s most beloved novelists. Initial reviews of Go Set a Watchman (by Michiku Kakutani in The New York Times and Mark Lawson in The Guardian) have raised questions about the diverging racial politics of the two novels, for example. Hopefully access to a second work by Harper Lee will bring more critical and scholarly attention to her writing as well.

This blog post and a small exhibit of these materials currently up in the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library were put together by Tom McCutchon and Karla Nielsen.

2/26 @ 6 PM – Book History Colloquium: “The Future of the (Digital) Book”

Digital Book

Diana Taylor, Professor of Latin American Studies and Performance, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, Latino Studies, New York University and Alexei Taylor, interactive designer

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Butler Library, Room 523

This talk addresses two major quandaries regarding the future of the (digital) scholarly book. The first has to do with the concept of ‘book’ when applied to books written for the screen and read on phones by generations that have grown up with the internet and touch screen devices. What role does a press have when ‘books’ are designed and coded by technologists, preserved on the cloud, and disseminated through social media? What implications does this have for the classroom? For academic institutions grounded in libraries? For legal and classification regimes such as copyright and ISBNs? The second question has to do with the changing understanding of scholarship itself. The speakers will provide examples from the digital books they have created to address these issues.

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Diana Taylor is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish at NYU. She is the author of the award-winning Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America (1991), Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (1997), The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Duke University Press, 2003), which won the Outstanding Book from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, and the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for Best Book in Latin American and Hispanic Studies from the Modern Language Association. She has received many awards and fellowships, including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar award (2012-13), and the ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship (2013-2014). She is founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.

Alexei Taylor is an interactive designer of screen-based publishing and authoring systems. As the co-founder of TypeFold, a company that develops digital publications and software, Taylor’s focus is on a variety of authoring systems for classrooms, e-books, interactive journals, and virtual museums that utilize maps, augmented reality, streaming data and community. He has taught graduate and under graduate classes in design and technology and uses this experience to challenge the role of interactivity, collaboration and media in pedagogy. Taylor holds an M.P.S from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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Co-sponsored with the Hispanic Institute of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University and the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University

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The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.

Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.

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All sessions take place 6pm in 523 Butler Library, Columbia Morningside Campus, unless otherwise noted.

RBML Exhibition– “Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future”

Columbia University Libraries/Information ServicesRare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the exhibition:  Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future.  The exhibition opened October 6th and runs through January 23rd, 2015 in the Kempner Gallery at the RBML – 6th Floor East, Butler Library.

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Charles Saxon (’40 CC), Untitled. Charles Saxon Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The exhibition presents art, manuscripts, and ephemera from Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, including items associated with the university’s history, as well as art from Mad artist Al Jaffee, Elfquest artist Wendy Pini, and New Yorker cartoonist Charles Saxon; drafts and notes from X-Men writer Chris Claremont and Legion of Super Heroes writer Paul Levitz, and correspondence from mainstream and indie comics luminaries Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, and Howard Cruse, and more.

An irreverent comic strip confiscated from undergraduates in 1766 joins political cartoons from Thomas Nast and Rube Goldberg, Jerry Robinson’s early sketches of Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne, Milt Gross’s contracts with The New York World, and a Joe Shuster Superman sketch, along with work from up-and-coming cartoonists. The exhibition also features works “on the fringes” of comics, such as Rodolphe Töpffer’s The adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck and Lynd Ward’s wordless woodcut novels.

Comics at Columbia is curated by Karen Green, Librarian for Ancient & Medieval History and Graphic Novels Librarian at Columbia University.

“The rather racy 18th-century cartoon, confiscated from undergraduates when Columbia University was still Kings College, is an indication of just how deep the roots of comics reach at this institution,” said Green. “Our recent archives acquisitions join comics materials already embedded in a broad array of collections. This exhibition brings these varied materials to light, and demonstrates the power of the comics medium to inform research into history, social mores, popular culture, and so much more.”

Comics at Columbia showcases the RBML’s support for research, teaching, and learning with comics and graphic novels. Since its beginning in 2005, a growing circulating collection of such graphic novels at the Libraries has inspired scholarly inquiry, as well as academic writing and coursework, including The American Graphic Novel, a course co-taught by Columbia University Professor Jeremy Dauber and former DC Comics president Paul Levitz, and a long-running summer course on comics as literature. The exhibition also highlights a major collecting strength of the RBML, the history of publishing and related archives, with notable recent additions including the archives of Granary Books, the Dalkey Archive Press, Ballantine Books, and the papers of Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press.

For hours and more information, please visit the RBML website.

Book History Colloquium: “Traces in the Stacks: 19th-Century Book Use and the Future of Library Collections”

Tues., October 28th @ 6:00 PM

Andrew Stauffer, Associate Professor of English and Director of NINES, University of Virginia

The Book Traces Project engages the question of the future of the print record in the wake of wide-scale digitization. College and university libraries increasingly reconfigure access to nineteenth-century texts through public-domain versions via repositories such as Google Books on the assumption that copies of any given nineteenth-century edition are identical. The Book Traces Project argues otherwise, focusing attention on the customizations made by original owners in personal copies of books to be found in the open stacks of university libraries, and showing that these books constitute a massive, distributed archive of the history of reading. Marginalia, inscriptions, photos, original manuscripts, letters, drawings, and many other unique pieces of historical data can be found in individual copies, many of them associated with the history of the institution that collected the books.

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On October 8th, the Columbia University Libraries sponsored a Book Traces-related “treasure hunt” in the Butler Stacks. This talk will review the findings from that day, discussing compelling examples that were discovered by Columbia students and faculty.

Andrew Stauffer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia, and Director of NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship). He specializes in 19th-century British literature and the Digital Humanities. Stauffer launched the Book Traces project in 2014, following two years of sending students into the general stacks of the University of Virginia libraries to discover unique copies of nineteenth-century editions of Romantic and Victorian poetry. He has published articles on various Romantic and Victorian writers, including Byron, Dickens, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His book Anger, Revolution, and Romanticism was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005, and he is currently working on a book entitled, “Postcard from the Volcano: The Troubled Archive of Nineteenth-Century Literature.”

The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.

Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.

All sessions take place 6pm in 523 Butler Library, Columbia Morningside Campus, unless otherwise noted.

On Display @ Kunming City Museum: Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-hero as Combat Photographer in China, an exhibition at Kunming City Museum, in Kunming City, Yunnan, China, which features a collection of RBML’s photographs of China from World War II by Grove Street Press publisher Barney Rosset.

Astrid Rosset at the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China at Kunming City Museum (Photo: Arthur Bijur)

The exhibition, which opened on February 20, was co-curated by Bob Bergin, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer; Astrid Rosset, Barney Rosset’s widow, and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature at RBML. The curators chose approximately 100 images from the collection, which were then digitized by the RBML and printed by the Kunming City Museum.

The photographs in the exhibition were taken by Rosset during his time with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in China toward the end of World War II (1944-1945). In 1945, Rosset was tasked with documenting for the United States that Chinese soldiers were willing to fight. The photographs depict Chinese and American soldiers in training and combat, the devastation caused by the Ichi-Go operation (The Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi), the largest Japanese land campaign of the war, the Japanese retreat, and the signing of the surrender in Nanking. Rosset joined the Chinese troops at Kweiyang, the deepest point of Japanese penetration before they began to retreat.

Little documentation from this period remains in China and the newly opened Kunming City Museum was eager to mount an exhibition of Rosset’s photographs. According to Bergin, Rosset (who passed away in 2012) wished that his photos of a difficult period in Chinese history could be shown to China’s new generations.  The exhibition includes digital prints of his photographs, copies of letters he wrote home during that period, and documents that demonstrate Rosset’s interest in China throughout his life and career.

Rosset bought the fledgeling Grove Press in 1951 and transformed it into the leading publisher of avant-garde literature and political writing. Grove published Che Guevara, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and Malcolm X.

Concurrent with the brick-and-mortar exhibition in China, the RBML has created an online exhibition containing many of these images, which can be viewed on the exhibition website.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

“Obscene” – Wednesday, February 19, 7:00 PM

 

A screening of Obscene, a documentary about publisher Barney Rosset

Introduced by the film’s co-director, Daniel O’Connor

Chang Room, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University

 Followed by a reception at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library