The Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) is hosting series of Virtual Book Talks. This installment features Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, who will present on his recent book Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021).
What are the future prospects for literary knowledge now that literary texts—and the material remains of authorship, publishing, and reading—are reduced to bitstreams, strings of digital ones and zeros? What are the opportunities and obligations for book history, textual criticism, and bibliography when literary texts are distributed across digital platforms, devices, formats, and networks? Indeed, what is textual scholarship when the "text" of our everyday speech is a verb as often as it is a noun?
These are the questions that motivate Matthew G. Kirschenbaum in Bitstreams, a distillation of twenty years of thinking about the intersection of digital media, textual studies, and literary archives. With an intimate narrative style that belies the cold technics of computing, Kirschenbaum takes the reader into the library where all access to Toni Morrison's "papers" is mediated by digital technology; to the bitmapped fonts of Kamau Brathwaite's Macintosh; to the process of recovering and restoring fourteen lost "HyperPoems" by the noted poet William Dickey; and finally, into the offices of Melcher Media, a small boutique design studio reimagining the future of the codex.
Questions may be directed to Kevin Wisniewski, Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, at email@example.com.
Additional information on future PHBAC book talks may be found at https://www.americanantiquarian.org/virtual-book-talks