MLA 2013 book history sessions

Below is my compilation of session at the 2013 conference of the Modern Language Association that touch on book history. For my purposes here, book history includes the study of the bibliography, book trade, textual editing, and, in some cases, new media study. My method was to skim the titles of all sessions and to click on those that seemed like they might hit on one of these topics. The result is that the list is a bit idiosyncratic and quite likely incomplete. If I’ve missed something, let me know in the comments below and I’ll update it. You can also search the convention program yourself.

15. Transatlantic Book History in the Eighteenth Century
Thursday, 3 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Beacon E, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding: Sean D. Moore, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham

  1. “Toward an Imperial Book History of the Early United States,” Edward J. Larkin, Univ. of Delaware, Newark
  2. “To Encourage the Printing Business in This Kingdom: Robert Bell’s Irish Paine,” Molly Hardy, Saint Bonaventure Univ.
  3. “Black Printers and the History of the American Book,” Christen Mucher, Univ. of Pennsylvania

18. Old Wine in New Wineskins: The Collected Works Project in the Digital Age
Thursday, 3 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Jefferson, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Division on Methods of Literary Research
Presiding: Jude V. Nixon, Salem State Univ.

  1. “The Collected Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Print Editions, Digital Surrounds, and Preservation,” Sandra M. Donaldson, Univ. of North Dakota; Marjorie I. Stone, Dalhousie Univ.
  2. “A Virtual Edition of William Morris’s Collected Works,” Florence S. Boos, Univ. of Iowa
  3. “The Novels of Sutton E. Griggs: A Critical Edition,” Tess Chakkalakal, Bowdoin Coll.
  4. “Editing Henry James in the Digital Age,” Pierre A. Walker, Salem State Univ.

52. Issued from Boston: The National Impact of a Local Print Culture on Slavery-Related Politics
Thursday, 3 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Beacon A, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding: Robert S. Levine, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

  1. “David Walker’s Appeal and the Printers of Everyday Abolition,” Benjamin Beck, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
  2. “‘I Will Be Heard’: Print’s Amplification of Boston Voices in the Antislavery Movement,” Marcy J. Dinius, DePaul Univ.
  3. “Boston and Beyond: The Broader Circulation of Walker’s Appeal,” Lori A. Leavell, Univ. of Central Arkansas

58. Intermediality in Modern and Contemporary Italy: Early Cinema and Print Culture
Thursday, 3 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 205, Hynes
Program arranged by the Division on Twentieth-Century Italian Literature and the American Association for Italian Studies
Presiding: John P. Welle, Univ. of Notre Dame

  1. “The Industrial Origins of Text-Image Intermediality: Sonzogno Periodicals in the 1860s–80s,” Silvia Valisa, Florida State Univ.
  2. “Metareferential Intermediality in the Cinema of the Early 1910s,” Bernhard Kuhn, Bucknell Univ.
  3. “The Polyphonic Language of Silent Cinema: Rapsodia Satanica, by Nino Oxilia, as a Multisensorial Experience,” Danila Cannamela, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  4. “Screens to Take Home: Film and Illustrated Publishing in Italian Culture,” Irene Lottini, Univ. of Iowa

84. Publishing Indigeneity: Future, Fact, and Fiction
Thursday, 3 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., The Fens, Sheraton
Program arranged by the MLA Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada
Presiding: Frederick H. White, Slippery Rock Univ.

  1. “Why the Most Popular ‘Indigenous’ Writer in America Is Still Tony Hillerman,” Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez, Bradley Univ.
  2. “Back to the Indigenous Future: Publishing Bones and Wind,” Rachela Permenter, Slippery Rock Univ.

88. Age, Obsolescence, and New Media
Thursday, 3 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Hampton, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Age Studies
Presiding:  Cynthia R. Port, Coastal Carolina Univ.

  1. “Aging as Obsolescence: Remediating Old Narratives in a New Age,” Erin Lamb, Hiram Coll.
  2. “Typewriters to Tweeters: Women, Aging, and Technological Literacy,” Lauren Marshall Bowen, Michigan Technological Univ.
  3. “The New Obsolescence of New Media: Political Affect and Retrotechnologies,” Jen Boyle, Coastal Carolina Univ.

103. Native Literary Boston
Thursday, 3 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Beacon A, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Division on American Indian Literatures
Presiding:  Margaret Bruchac, Univ. of Pennsylvania

  1. “Indigenous Writers of the Boston Children’s Museum (1972–2011): A Digital Hub,” Siobhan Senier, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham
  2. “William Apess’s Eulogy on King Philip and Cross-Ethnic Literary Boston,” Emily Donaldson Field, Boston Univ.
  3. “Shadow Printer: Red Ink and the Cambridge Press,” Drew Lopenzina, Old Dominion Univ.
  4. “‘To the Fireside of the Paleface’: Boston and Domesticity in Copway’s Running Sketches of Men and Places,” Derek McGrath, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York

116. Art for Virtue’s Sake: New World Theories on Print and the Public Good
Thursday, 3 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 307, Hynes
A special session
Presiding:  Ronald D. Briggs, Barnard Coll.

  1. “The Concept of ‘Public Instruction’ in the Periodical Press: Mexico, 1780–1830,” Eugenia Roldán Vera, Center for Research and Advanced Studies, Mexico City
  2. “Readerly Pleasures and Civic Authority in the Writings of José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi (1776–1827),” Christopher Brian Conway, Univ. of Texas, Arlington
  3. “Rome in the Postindependence Americas,” Elise Bartosik-Velez, Dickinson Coll.
  4. Responding:  Ronald D. Briggs

131. Inscribing the Self: Social Communication and the Materiality of Writing in East Asia
Thursday, 3 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 205, Hynes
Program arranged by the Division on East Asian Languages and Literatures to 1900
Presiding:  Joseph R. Allen, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

  1. “Women and Manuscript Culture in the Late Choson Period (Seventeenth–Nineteenth Centuries),” Sookja Cho, Arizona State Univ.
  2. “Between Writing and Publishing Letters in Seventeenth-Century China,” Suyoung Son, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
  3. “Signatures of the Self: The (In)Visibility of Writing in Early-Twentieth-Century Japanese Letters,” Hoyt Long, Univ. of Chicago

For abstracts, visit

133. Reading the Invisible and Unwanted in Old and New Media
Thursday, 3 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., The Fens, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding:  Lori A. Emerson, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder

  1. “Apple Macintosh and the Ideology of the User-Friendly,” Lori A. Emerson
  2. “OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and the Vestigial Aesthetics of Machine Vision,” Zach Whalen, Univ. of Mary Washington
  3. “Lost in Plain Sight: Microdot Technology and the Compression of Reading,” Paul Benzon, Temple Univ., Philadelphia
  4. “An Account of Randomness in Literary Computing,” Mark Sample, George Mason Univ.

For abstracts, visit

137. Printing Science
Thursday, 3 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Beacon F, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing
Presiding:  Greg Barnhisel, Duquesne Univ.

  1. “Printing the Third Dimension in the Renaissance,” Travis D. Williams, Univ. of Rhode Island
  2. “Mediating Power in American Editions of Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea,” Matthew Lavin, Univ. of Iowa
  3. “Printed Books, Digital Poetics, and the Aesthetic of Bookishness,” Jessica Pressman, Yale Univ.
  4. Responding:  Stephanie Ann Smith, Univ. of Florida

For copies of abstracts, visit

165. Beyond the PDF: Experiments in Open-Access Scholarly Publishing
Thursday, 3 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Hampton, Sheraton
A special session

Speakers: Douglas M. Armato, Univ. of Minnesota Press; Jamie Skye Bianco, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Matthew K. Gold, New York City Coll. of Tech., City Univ. of New York;  Jennifer Laherty, Indiana Univ., Bloomington;  Monica McCormick, New York Univ.;  Katie Rawson, Emory Univ.

Session Description: As open-access scholarly publishing matures and movements such as the Elsevier boycott continue to grow, open-access publications have begun to move beyond the simple (but crucial) principle of openness toward an ideal of interactivity. This session will explore innovative examples of open-access scholarly publishing that showcase new types of social, interactive, mixed-media texts.

For abstracts and discussion, visit after 1 Nov.

186. Fraud and Forgery in Literary Texts 
Friday, 4 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Liberty A, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Association for Documentary Editing
Presiding:  Carol DeBoer-Langworthy, Brown Univ.

  1. “Editing Forgery, Scripting an Author: The Case of Emily Dickinson,” Martha Nell Smith, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
  2. “Authorial Deceit in Literary Texts,” David L. Vander Meulen, Univ. of Virginia
  3. “‘Shan’t Tell’: Sex, Lies, and the Unspeakable in the Fiction of Jerzy Kosinki,” Carolyn A. Sofia, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York
  4. “‘It Couldn’t Be Robbery to Steal That’: Plagiarism and Twain’s ‘Jumping Frog,'” Andrew Newman, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York;  Brandi So, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York

198. Convergent Histories of the Book: From Manuscript to Digital
Friday, 4 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Hampton, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding:  Alex Mueller, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston

Speakers: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, MLA; Martin Foys, Drew Univ.; Matthew Kirschenbaum, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Stephen G. Nichols, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Kathleen A. Tonry, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs; Sarah Werner, Folger Shakespeare Library

Session Description: In this roundtable, scholars of manuscripts, print, and digital media will discuss how contemporary forms of textuality intersect with, duplicate, extend, or draw on manuscript technologies. Panelists seek to push the discussion beyond traditional notions of supersession or remediation to consider the relevance of past textual practices in our analyses of emergent ones.

285. How Many Copies Is Enough? Too Many? Libraries and Shared Monograph Archives
Friday, 4 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Riverway, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Libraries and Research in Languages and Literatures
Presiding:  David Oberhelman, Oklahoma State Univ. Library

Speakers: Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R; Jay Schafer, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, Libraries; Andrew M. Stauffer, Univ. of Virginia

Session Description: As libraries rely increasingly on digitized texts and on partnerships for archiving print volumes, how do libraries and scholars cooperate to ensure preservation of copies with artifactual value for scholarly purposes?

For session description and bibliography, visit

294. The Work of Editing: A Workshop for New and Old Scholarly Editors
Friday, 4 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Jefferson, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding:  Alan Rauch, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte;  Masoud Yazdani, Intellect, Ltd.

Session Description: Editors of scholarly journals face new challenges. These include new technologies of access and distribution and fiscal management. We will explore general issues facing journals and consider the demands of workload and support in home institutions. This is a rare opportunity for editors to collaborate in the improvement of journals and the precarious state of scholarly publishing.

321. Digital and Analogue Critical Editions of Continental Literature? Pros, Cons, Discussion
Friday, 4 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Fairfax A, Sheraton
Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions
Presiding:  Stephen G. Nichols, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD

Speakers:  Karen L. Fresco, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana;  Albert Lloret, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst; Jacques Neefs, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Responding:  Timothy L. Stinson, North Carolina State Univ.

Session Description: This panel explores the resistance of editors to explore digital editions. Questions posed: Do scholarly protocols deliberately resist computational methodologies? Or are we still in a liminal period where print predominates for lack of training in the new technology? Does the problem lie with a failure to encourage digital research by younger scholars?

For abstracts, visit .

328. African American Print Culture Studies
Friday, 4 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Back Bay B, Sheraton
Program arranged by the American Literature Section

Speakers:  Elizabeth Cali, Univ. of Texas, San Antonio;  Erin Ranft, Univ. of Texas, San Antonio; Vincent Schleitwiler, Williams Coll.; Responding:  Carla L. Peterson, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Session Description: This roundtable demonstrates the advantages of open access by presenting multiple approaches to studies in United States black print culture, drawn on digital and material archives. Topics include representations of Haitian independence in early African American serials, late-nineteenth-century medical and entertainment displays of postmortem black bodies, and mid-twentieth-century comparative black Pacific print culture studies.

For abstracts, write to after 3 Dec.

350. Puerto Rican Print Cultures 
Friday, 4 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 208, Hynes
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Puerto Rican Literature and Culture
Presiding:  Tomás Urayoán Noel, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York

  1. “Letters of Bondage: Blackface and the Merengue Craze in El Ponceño, 1852–54,”  Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, Harvard Univ.
  2. “The Linguistic Politics of Piri Thomas: African American Vernacular English and Racial Discourse inDown These Mean Streets,”  Anne Garland Mahler, Emory Univ.
  3. “Poesía, imagen y tecnología en Rizoma de Áurea María Sotomayor,”  Juan Rodriguez, Georgia Inst. of Tech.
  4. Responding:  Rubén Ríos Ávila, Univ. of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

353. Avenues of Access: Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarly Communication
Friday, 4 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Republic Ballroom, Sheraton
A linked session arranged in conjunction with The Presidential Forum: Avenues of Access
Presiding:  Michael Bérubé, Penn State Univ., University Park

  1. “The Mirror and the LAMP,”  Matthew Kirschenbaum, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
  2. “Access Demands a Paradigm Shift,”  Cathy N. Davidson, Duke Univ.
  3. “Resistance in the Materials,”  Bethany Nowviskie, Univ. of Virginia

Session Description: The news that digital humanities are the next big thing must come as a pleasant surprise to people who have been working in the field for decades. Yet only recently has the scholarly community at large realized that developments in new media have implications not only for the form but also for the content of scholarly communication. This session will explore some of those implications—for scholars, for libraries, for journals, and for the idea of intellectual property.

384. What Is a Journal? Toward a Theory of Periodical Studies
Friday, 4 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Public Garden, Sheraton
A special session

Speakers:  Ann Ardis, Univ. of Delaware, Newark;  Sean Latham, Univ. of Tulsa;  Dallas H. Liddle, Augsburg Coll.;  James Mussell, Univ. of Birmingham;  Matthew Philpotts, Univ. of Manchester

Session Description: Research in periodical studies continues to flourish, yielding numerous projects that take the periodical as an object of inquiry in its own right. Yet the theoretical development of the field remains elusive. This session tackles this weakness, bringing together periodical scholars from different disciplines to address the fundamental conceptual issues raised by this vibrant new field.

For position papers, visit after 1 Nov.

432. Aural Literature and Close Listening
Saturday, 5 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Beacon H, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding: Michelle Nancy Levy, Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby

  1. “The Case against Audiobooks,” Matthew Rubery, Univ. of London, Queen Mary Coll.
  2. “Aural Literacy in a Visual Era: Is Anyone Listening?” Cornelius Collins, Fordham Univ., Bronx
  3. “Novel Sound Tracks and the Future of Hybridized Reading,” Justin St. Clair, Univ. of South Alabama
  4. “Poetry as MP3: PennSound, Poetry Recording, and the New Digital Archive,” Lisa A. Hollenbach, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

For abstracts, write to

445. Mobile Texts to Performative Adaptations: Fresh Looks at Editing Medieval and Renaissance Poetry and Music 
Saturday, 5 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Beacon A, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Society for Textual Scholarship
Presiding:  Dario Del Puppo, Trinity Coll., CT

  1. “Mobile Texts and Local Options: Geography and Editing,”  H. Wayne Storey, Indiana Univ., Bloomington
  2. “You Can Say That Again: The Transmission of Old French Refrains,”  Daniel E. O’Sullivan, Univ. of Mississippi
  3. “Renaissance Instrumentalists as Translators,”  Victor Coehlo, Boston Univ.;  Keith Polk, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham

For abstracts, write to after 10 Dec.

451. Scholarly Journals: New Challenges and Opportunities
Saturday, 5 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Public Garden, Sheraton
Program arranged by the MLA Delegate Assembly
Presiding:  Ana-Maria Medina, Metropolitan State Coll. of Denver

Speakers:  Lois Bacon, EBSCO;  Marshall J. Brown, Univ. of Washington, Seattle;  Stuart Alexander Day, Univ. of Kansas;  Judy Luther, Informed Strategies;  Dana D. Nelson, Vanderbilt Univ.;  Joseph Paul Tabbi, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago;  Bonnie Wheeler, Southern Methodist Univ.

Session Description: Changes are happening to the scholarly journal, a fundamental institution of our professional life. New modes of communication open promising possibilities, even as financial challenges to print media and education make this time difficult. A panel of editors, publishers, and librarians will address these topics, carrying forward a discussion begun at the 2012 Delegate Assembly meeting.

485. Inventing New Journals: The Pressures for and against New Scholarly Publications
Saturday, 5 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Riverway, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals
Presiding:  Alan Rauch, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte

Speakers:  Myra Seaman, Coll. of Charleston;  Masoud Yazdani, Intellect, Ltd.

Session Description: New journals are consistently needed to respond to critical trends and increasing pressures to publish. But fiscal pressures militate against journals and the editorial work needed to sustain them. How do we, as academics, editors, publishers, and administrators, negotiate this?

For position descriptions, visit after 1 Jan.

488. Answering the Challenge: The New Variorum Shakespeare in the Digital Age
Saturday, 5 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Beacon F, Sheraton
Program arranged by the MLA Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare
Presiding:  Paul Werstine, Univ. of Western Ontario

  1. “Having Your Semantics and Formatting It Too: XML and the NVS,”  Julia H. Flanders, Brown Univ.
  2. “Variant Stories: Digital Visualization and the Secret Lives of Shakespeare’s Texts,”  Alan Galey, Univ. of Toronto
  3. “Digital Alchemy: Transmuting the Electronic Comedy of Errors,”  Jon Bath, Univ. of Saskatchewan

504. New England DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Comics
Saturday, 5 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., The Fens, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives
Presiding:  Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

  1. “Minicomics and the Graphic Nonnovel,”  Isaac Cates, Univ. of Vermont
  2. “Comics Culture and Community: Providence,”  Martha B. Kuhlman
  3. “‘Like Us Be Free and Bold’: Innovation, Rebellion, and Self-Reliance in Boston Minicomics,”  Susan E. Kirtley, Portland State Univ.
  4. “The Illegitimate Sons of Superman: DIY Publishing and the Rutland Halloween Parade,”  Craig Fischer, Appalachian State Univ.

522. Crossed Codes: Print’s Dream of the Digital Age, Digital’s Memory of the Age of Print
Saturday, 5 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Liberty C, Sheraton
Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions
Presiding:  Marta L. Werner, D’Youville Coll.

  1. “‘Every Man His Own Publisher’: Extraillustration and the Dream of the Universal Library,”  Gabrielle Dean, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD
  2. “Interactivity and Randomization Processes in Printed and Electronic Experimental Poetry,” Jonathan Baillehache, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick
  3. “Mirror World, Minus World: Glitching Nabokov’s Pale Fire,”  Andrew Ferguson, Univ. of Virginia
  4. “Designed Futures of the Book,”  Kari M. Kraus, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

525. Materialities of Translation
Saturday, 5 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 207, Hynes
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Translation
Presiding:  Christi Merrill, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  1. “Scattered Strokes: Yoko Tawada’s Letters in Visual Transformation,”  Gizem Arslan, Cornell Univ.
  2. “‘Englishing’ Utopia in London: Translation and Print in the Sixteenth Century,”  Alice Waters, Boston Coll.
  3. “The ‘Right’ to Translate? Ingeborg Bachmann and Gendered Translation,”  Erin Riddle, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York

575. Figurations of Media: The Novel after Media Studies
Saturday, 5 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Berkeley, Sheraton
A special session
Presiding:  Kate Marshall, Univ. of Notre Dame

  1. “Literary Form and the Book Trade: Cooper’s Transatlantic Additions,”  Joseph Rezek, Boston Univ.
  2. “Jane Austen’s Novels as Actors in a History of Media(tion),”  William Beatty Warner, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
  3. “Materials and Mediality: On Steinbeck’s The Wayward Bus,”  Kate Marshall
  4. Responding:  Lara Langer Cohen, Wayne State Univ.

689. New Media in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Spain
Sunday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 313, Hynes
Program arranged by the Division on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Spanish Literature
Presiding:  Daniel Frost, Coll. of the Holy Cross

  1. “The Original, the Copy, and the Counterfeit: Sexual and Mechanical Reproduction in Fortunata y Jacinta,”  Laura Connor, Harvard Univ.
  2. “Pablo Minguet’s Engaños a ojos vistas: Trick Games and the Rise of Madrid’s Magical Printing Market,”  Marta Ferrer Gómez, Universidad de Salamanca
  3. “Print Technologies and Public Describing: Image, Presence, and Trace,”  Rebecca Haidt, Ohio State Univ., Columbus

760. Bibliography in the Digital Age
Sunday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Public Garden, Sheraton
Program arranged by the Division on Methods of Literary Research and the Discussion Group on Bibliography and Textual Studies
Presiding:  Maura Carey Ives, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

  1. “Analyzing Large Bibliographical Data Sets: A Case Study,”  David Lee Gants, Florida State Univ.
  2. “Descriptive Bibliography’s ‘Ideal Copy’ and the Encoding of a Born-Digital Scholarly Edition,” Wesley Raabe, Kent State Univ., Kent
  3. “From the Archive to the Browser: Best Practices and Google Books,”  Sydney Bufkin, Univ. of Texas, Austin

3 thoughts on “MLA 2013 book history sessions

    1. Yes, that’s totally book history! Thanks for pointing it out–by the time I got to Saturday’s listings I was flagging, and that looks like a good one. I’ve added it in now.

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