Recording of BYOB Launch Party, vol. 2 Now Available

The SHARP BYOB book launch party, vol. 2, took place on November 19, 2020. The first event of this kind was hosted by Corinna Norrick-Rühl as part of #SHARPinFocus in June 2020, but the timing was not ideal for members in Asia and Australasia. So volume 2 was timed to include members from Australasia and Asia – which meant that members in Europe were up bright and early to toast each other’s publications over coffee and tea. Provided there is enough interest, we can plan a SHARP BYOB launch party in the spring, and we will definitely be running one at the SHARP conference 2021. Thanks to all the presenters and everyone who joined us!

The bibliographical information will soon be uploaded to the SHARP News members’ publications page:

A recording of the event can be found here:

SHARP BYOB Launch Party, Vol. 2

As promised, we will be running a second iteration of the SHARP BYOB launch party in the coming weeks! For those of you who were not able to attend during #SHARPinFocus week, here is a brief description of the idea: In succinct, 1-2 minute launch slots, authors showcase publications from our field of research that have been published since the last physical SHARP conference, i.e. between August 2019 and October/November 2020. All of the books will be listed on SHARP News on the “New publications by members” page. All are welcome to help us celebrate these new publications!

Since the first launch party was an evening event (European time), we have decided to offer this second launch party as a morning event (European time), which will allow for a different set of members to attend during regular waking hours! We have scheduled this event for NOVEMBER 19, from 9-10am GMT, 10-11am CET, 8-9pm AEDT. Please save the date, and please double-check your time zone on (and make sure you enter the exact date, since some regions/countries “fall back” before the date of the launch party).

If you would like to launch your book, please register here: and send us an email at to receive the template for the launch PPT, which we will ask you to fill out and return. We have about a dozen slots, and we look forward to hearing from you. Authors who would like to launch books are asked to sign up by November 12, 2020.

All others are welcome to register for the event here:

Call for Proposals – SHARP 2021

SHARP 2021 annual conference
Moving texts: from discovery to delivery

Hosted virtually by the University of Muenster, in collaboration with the Law and Literature research group (DFG SFB 1385)

26-30 July 2021

As Sydney Shep writes in the Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book, “Books as transactions chart complex and often fluid networks between authors and readers, producers and consumers.” (2015, 53) The movement of texts within these networks is facilitated by a range of intermediary agents who shape the life cycle of a textual object from discovery to delivery. SHARP 2021, held as a virtual conference hosted by the University of Muenster, Germany, will be dedicated to sketching out the processes of textual movement, as well as the role of intermediaries in the life cycle of the book, here understood broadly to include literary agents, translators, editors, wholesalers and booksellers, used and rare book dealers, librarians and archivists. 

The conference, held in close collaboration with the collaborative research center for Law and Literature funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG SFB 1385 Recht und Literatur), will seek to emphasize the legal frameworks, informal norms, and business practices that enable, hinder or promote distribution of and access to books and texts.

We encourage participants to help us chart and understand the complex and fluid networks between authors and readers by focusing on processes of displaying, discovery, distribution and delivery, today and throughout history.

For more details, see the full call for proposals.

The ECR Coffeehouse: a Workshop for Early Career Researchers in Book History

SHARP would like to invite you all to the virtual event The ECR Coffeehouse: A Workshop for Early Career Researchers in Book History on 21 October 2020 at 11am–12.30pm (PDT) / 2–3.30pm (EDT) / 7–8.30 PM (BST) / 8–9.30 PM (CEST).

The event will take place on Zoom. Please follow the link to register:

Finishing a PhD is a big feat in itself. But ECRs also have to consider their career options in an increasingly challenging economic climate. After their PhDs, some book historians might choose to pursue postdoctoral teaching or research positions, whereas other might apply their skills and knowledge in fields such as librarianship or publishing. Others might follow different paths altogether.

Aimed at current PhD students, those who have recently completed their PhDs, and anyone who considers themselves to be an ECR, this SHARP Coffeehouse brings together three speakers who will talk about their respective experiences of transitioning from being a PhD student to postdoctoral scholar, librarian, and independent scholar:

Ann-Marie Hansen is a Radboud Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, working on Early Modern print and intellectual culture. Following on from her PhD at McGill University, she has held research and teaching positions at the universities of St Andrews, Toronto, Rennes and Utrecht.

Henning Hansen is Senior Academic Librarian at the University Library at The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, where he acts as subject librarian for History, Archaeology, Literature, and Classical studies. He also lectures in book history and methodology and is the rare books and map curator.

Marie Léger-St-Jean is a freelancer, a digital humanist, and proud independent scholar working on nineteenth-century transnational transmedia mass culture. She is the founder of and mastermind behind Price One Penny, a bibliographical and biographical database about the countless publishers and authors involved in the production of cheap literature in London from the 1830s to the 1850s

Following on from this, there will be plenty of opportunity for participants to talk about their experiences, share knowledge and provide perspectives. We will also use this event to think about how SHARP can do more as an organisation to support ECRs working on book history.

The event is organised by SHARP Executive Assistant Ellen Barth, Recording Secretary Vincent Trott and Director of Transnational Affairs Jan Hillgärtner.

SHARP research development grants for BIPOC scholars

SHARP is committed to enhancing the presence of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in its community, and supporting the progression of BIPOC scholars in their academic/research careers. In order to support training and career development, and in a desire to respond actively to the issues of racism and under-representation, SHARP is offering five $500 grants to support projects by BIPOC scholars (at any stage of their career).

We are delighted to announce that applications for these grants are now being accepted.

Details of the grants and (the very easy to fill in) application form are available on our website here:

Applications close on the 1st September 2020. Please do circulate this grant widely, across all of your networks, and contact if you have any questions.

We look forward to receiving your applications.

SHARP in Focus

SHARP would like to invite you all to #SHARPinFocus, a week of virtual events running June 15 through June 19. #SHARPinFocus is open to anyone interested in book studies. However, membership dues allow SHARP to continue to offer conferences, events, awards, and fellowships. Please consider joining at

SCHEDULE (status quo: June 2, 2020)


  • Decolonizing Book History (5pm Central Europe /11am Eastern /8am Pacific)
    Join Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, SHARP’s Director of Awards, as she chairs a roundtable discussion on the concepts, challenges, and strategies of decolonising book history. Panelists Marina Garone Gravier (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Priya Joshi (Temple University), Jean Lee Cole (Loyola University Maryland), Kinohi Nishikawa (Princeton University), and Andrea Reyes Elizondo (Leiden University) will explore issues of colonisation/decolonisation, indigenisation, race politics, social justice and equity with regard to, for example, the types and modes of research undertaken in Book History, teaching practices, and the collection, archiving and curation of knowledge in databases and catalogues.
    Please register via to attend!
  • SHARP Coffeehouse: Reimagining SHARP News (10pm Central Europe / 4pm Eastern / 1pm Pacific)
    Join us as we discuss the new look of SHARP News and think about what role the new version of SHARP News can play for SHARP members and the scholarly community. With SHARP News editor-in-chief Andie Silva, SHARP News head reviews editor Nora Slonimsky, and hosted by Director of Publications, Corinna Norrick-Rühl.
    Please register via to attend!


  • SHARP Coffeehouse on the future of academic conferences (5-6pm Central Europe / 11am-12pm Eastern / 8-9am Pacific).
    Join SHARP’s Director of Conferences Josée Vincent and Vice President Will Slauter for a brainstorming session on various aspects of the conference experience. Topics for discussion include: what is distinctive about SHARP conferences? How can we make our conferences more inclusive and more environmentally sustainable? What digital formats seem most promising?
    Email to register
  • Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Launch Party, hosted by Director of Publications Corinna Norrick-Rühl (7:30-8:30pm Central European / 1:30-2:30pm Eastern / 10:30am-11:30pm Pacific)
    In succinct, 1-2 minute launch slots, we would like to showcase publications from our field of research that have been published since the last SHARP conference, i.e. between August 2019 and June 2020. If you would like to launch your book virtually, please register via email for directions with by June 12, 2020. For longer-term visibility, all of the books will also be listed on SHARP News on the “New publications by members” page.
    Please note that we will be happy to repeat this event if members wish, so don’t worry if you miss the cut-off or can’t make it this time.
    If you would like to join the launch as an audience member, please register via for details.


  • Teaching Material Texts without the Material (9-10pm Central European / 3-4pm Eastern / 12-1pm Pacific)
    Join Sarah Werner, SHARP EC Member-at-Large, as she hosts a conversation about how to teach material book history when we can’t access those materials in person. A brief discussion with panelists Megan Peiser, Emily Spunaugle, and Matthew Kirschenbaum will be followed by break-out conversations about teaching strategies for when classes meet online. Peiser (Asst Prof of English, Oakland University) and Spunaugle (Rare Books Librarian, Oakland U) were co-teaching a book history course that drew extensively on their rare books collection when in-person teaching was suspended; Kirschenbaum (Prof of English, U Maryland) was teaching a graduate course on “how to do things with books” in their BookLab, of which he is co-director. The speakers will draw on their experiences in adjusting hands-on processes to online learning in order to help participants brainstorm their own potential pedagogical practices.
    Email to register


  • SHARP coffeehouse on diversity, equity and inclusion. (5-6pm Central European / 11am-12pm Eastern / 8-9am Pacific)
    Join Marija Dalbello, Chair of SHARP’s Board of Directors, Jan Hillgaertner, Director of Transnational Affairs, and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Director of Awards, for an informal discussion about how academic societies, and SHARP in particular, can better promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We welcome your comments and suggestions!
  • SHARP Annual General Meeting and Awards (9-10pm Central European / 3-4pm Eastern / 12-1pm Pacific)
    Join the SHARP Executive Committee and members for brief updates on the state of our organization and for announcements by the Publications Committee of the awards for best book and best article in Book History. The live conversation will be followed by break-out rooms for discussion about what SHARP can do for you.
    Email to register


  • SHARP Coffeehouse on membership benefits and initiatives (6-7pm Central European / 12-1pm Eastern / 9-10am Pacific)
    Come meet SHARP EC’s Membership Secretary Lisa Maruca and Member-at-Large (Pedagogy) Sarah Werner to discuss how SHARP can best serve its members. What can we do for you? How can you get more involved? Interested in our liaison system to connect with other organizations? Want to share your thoughts about the organization or our field with the Executive Council? This open discussion will help us brainstorm membership services and outreach—we’re eager to hear from you!
    Email to register
  • SharpFriday: informal happy hour on Zoom, hosted by Marie Léger-St-Jean and Alisa Beer (8-9pm Central European / 2-3pm Eastern / 11am-12pm Pacific)
    Email to register or DM @Marie_LSJ or @alisakbee on Twitter

Conference: Bookshelves in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – 10:00 to Wednesday, November 4, 2020 – 20:00
Online, via Microsoft Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on all aspects of lives, but nowhere has this been more visible than in the conflation of public and private workspace. As we work from home and attend endless online meetings, our bookshelves are suddenly on public display. This conference will ask speakers to critically examine this particular cultural phenomenon, brought to public attention by the pandemic. This online only conference is organised by the History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) research collaboration based in the Department of English & Creative Writing, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), The Open University and supported by SHARP (The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing), the world’s largest scholarly organisation in this research field.

For more information, please visit the conference website and download the call for papers.

SHARP in Focus, June 15-19, 2020

Mark your calendars for SHARP in Focus, June 15-19, 2020. It will be a week of all kinds of book history all for you on all your devices! There’ll be a virtual book launch highlighting recent publications by members, pedagogy brainstorming, a peek into the new SHARP News, and of course, our Annual General Meeting and awards ceremony! We will also be opening a SHARP coffeehouse for informal conversations with Executive Council members about SHARP throughout the week and finish the week with #SharpFriday conversation. More information will be on the website soon.

Call for Applicants

SHARP News is the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing’s quarterly digital newsletter. This publication includes features essays, book reviews, calls for papers, conference announcements, a listing of new publications, notes and queries, and reports on book studies throughout the world. In a revision to the previous regional editors structure, SHARP News welcomes applications for three to four new positions: Associate Reviews editors (two) and Editors at Large (one to two) who will contribute to the book, exhibit, and other relevant media reviews section of the newsletter. The Associate Editors and Editors at Large will report to the SHARP News editor and the SHARP News reviews editor.  Currently, we envision Editors at Large to work largely sharing and soliciting news on social media, while associate editors will participate more directly in the reviewing process (see below).  However, since these positions are new developments, the SHARP News team is open to a variety of approaches and welcomes applications that propose these and other roles.  The scope of these roles will include:

  • Curating relevant content for review and recruiting reviewers, based on a thematic or chronological focus of the editors’ choosing.
  • Overseeing the publication/reviewer pairing through the submission of the review.
  • Collaborating with the SHARP News editor and SHARP publications on social media, digital outreach, and other communication history/publishing studies initiatives.

To apply, please email a one-page application letter including contact information for two references by June 1, 2020. We especially encourage applications from early career researchers (including graduate students), and particularly from BIPOC and women and gender minorities.

MLA 2020 Session on “Spenser and Digital Humanities”

Organised by the International Spenser Society and SHARP
Thursday 9 January, 3.30pm to 4.45pm, 616 (WSCC)


Joseph Loewenstein and Anupam Basu

The foundational work of the Text Creation Partnership, and the supplementary efforts of colleagues at Washington University and Northwestern, have given early modernists a richly annotated corpus: 60,000 printed books, 1.65 billion words, with each word preserved in original and regularized spelling and tagged by part of speech, and each document searchable not only by word or phrase (with plenty of flexibility for the substitution of part-of-speech placeholders), but also by literary structure, making it possible to profile literary idiosyncrasy at a range of scales.  Having already assessed the (very high) degree to which Spenser’s spelling in print conforms to roiling orthographic norms across his career, we offer a preliminary report on his lexical and syntactic profile, measured against a “small” corpus of verse — extracted from about 1500 texts printed between 1561 and 1600.  Using some simple metrics, we can start to tell you what’s distinctive about Spenser’s lexicon — not just the odd words, but the less odd ones that he uses disproportionately; we can also tell you whose verse practice clusters with his and what the vectors of similarity are.  And we will.  If there’s time, we’ll branch out towards the more difficult problem of how to move from profiling by means of lexical clustering to the more demanding task of syntactic profiling.

Craig Berry
Prosaic Diction: the Words of Spenser’s Prose

We know that, as a secretary, Spenser wrote a great deal of prose. We have his long prose treatise A View of the Present State of Ireland as well as the smaller Brief Note of IrelandAxiochus, and a couple of published letters. The purposes and audiences of these texts and their generic horizons of expectation differ in various ways from each other as well as from those of Spenser’s poetry. This paper will consider specifically how and whether Spenser’s word choices in the prose works differ from or align with the diction of his poetry.

Most Spenserians can readily think of rare or eccentric word choices, especially in the poetry, but this paper takes a different approach in which the cruxes and exceptions will be less important than large-scale trends.  This work starts with lemmatized digital texts (where the lemma is the dictionary head word leveling out all inflection and spelling variation) and applies statistical methods, notably log likelihood ratios and z-scores, to measure difference and similarity between different word collections.  No statistical background will be required to understand that having a look at words far more likely or far less likely to occur in the prose than in the poetry (or vice versa) may illuminate Spenser’s practice in ways that confirm or challenge the intuitions of experienced readers. At least tentative answers will be given to such questions as what words are unique to the prose corpus and what parts of Spenser’s poetic corpus have the greatest (or least) affinity, vocabulary-wise, with the prose.

John R. Ladd
Spenserian Digital Deformance and the Interpretive Power of Playfulness

Digital tools give researchers many ways to disassemble and reassemble literary works. Some of these rearrangements are used for straightforward analytical purposes: representing a corpus as a “bag of words” to allow statistical analyses of vocabulary, for example. However this process of taking literature apart and recombining it in new ways can be creative, even playful. Using Jerome McGann’s concept of deformance—a portmanteau of deform and performance—I will present several projects that reconfigure our understanding of Spenser’s works by presenting his verse to us in digitally-altered ways.

In one project, Spenser’s Color Wheel, I visualize Spenser’s use of different color terms in The Faerie Queene and The Shepheardes Calender, allowing the user to choose the lines that invoke a particular set of colors to construct evocative new poems. In another project, the Twitter bot @endlessmonument, I wrote a script that delivers lines of Spenser’s Epithalamion in accordance with the poem’s famously complex time-scheme: the social media reader then encounters the poem in short, temporally-fixed pieces alongside millions of other tweets. These projects grew out of my work with the Spenser Project, the digital edition of Spenser’s Complete Works. Following McGann, I will reflect on the ways in which these deformance projects help us to think about the alterations and interpretive choices of digital editing.

These deformances are more than creative side projects—by rearranging Spenser’s works in unexpected ways they direct readers’ attention to specific formal elements and authorial choices. I argue that deformance of Spenser’s work is interpretive—in coding them I made interpretive choices about what the reader should see in Spenser’s use of time and of color, and in exploring them readers are invited to spin out new interpretations of their own.

Posted in MLA