HaSS speaker to examine rare books

The HaSS Distinguished Speaker Series will present “Book Traces” on Friday, March 9, at 5 p.m at the Greenspring Library.

Andrew Stauffer, Ph.D., will speak at Stevenson about Book Traces. (Photo from virginia.edu)

Andrew Stauffer, Ph.D., an associate professor from the department of English at the University of Virginia who specializes in 19th-century British literature and digital humanities, will be the guest speaker.

During Stauffer’s presentation, students will be able to observe annotations in books from the 19th century and the early 20th century. They will then be able to compare these marks with how readers make annotations in the modern era in order to learn more about the history of reading practices. Stauffer will then discuss why keeping these books in library collections is important.

Dr. Amanda Licastro, assistant professor of digital rhetoric in the English department, helped bring Stauffer to Stevenson.

“The purposes of the presentation are two things: the first is to give students a broader understanding of how people read when compared to now, and the second is because when libraries stock too many books, they have to throw some away. The presentation is there to help us pick which books are okay to throw away and which ones aren’t,” said Licastro.

Stauffer holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He has published four books as well as several articles about his specialties.

Stauffer is the Director of the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship (NINES) which, according to the Virginia Tech website, “is a scholarly organization devoted to forging links between material archive of the nineteenth century and the digital research environment of the twenty-first.”

Book Traces, sponsored by NINES, is a crowd-sourced web project aimed at identifying unique copies of 19th- and early 20th-century books on library shelves. Its focus, according to the website, is on the differences made by original owners in personal copies.

Anyone who would like to submit pre-1923 annotated books of his or her own can do so on the program’s website. Since its creation in April 2014, students and college professors from across the United States have submitted nearly 700 books.

At the University of Virginia, Stauffer is also the editor of the university newspaper, “The Digital Nineteenth Century,” an associate editor of the Victorian Literature and Culture series, and is also president of the Byron Society of America, a non-profit literary organization dedicated to studying the life and works of Lord Byron, an English Romantic poet from the 18th-century.

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