starting a new chapter

2015-04-13 14.37.25Sometimes you look around at what you’re doing and you realize that it’s time to do something else. For me, that time is now: I’ve left my job at the Folger.

For the immediate future, I’ll be concentrating on writing A Handbook for Studying Early Printed Books, 1450–1800, which is under contract with Wiley Blackwell. The book is intended to introduce undergraduate and early graduate students—and everyone else!—to how hand-press books were made and to working with them, whether in your hands or on screen. Those of you who have been relying on Philip Gaskell’s wonderful but dense A New Introduction to Bibliography will find A Handbook a more accessible introduction in the classroom. And those of you who know nothing about early modern bibliography and have no idea why you’d want to teach it will become converts to the joys of the subject.

Along with writing A Handbook, I’ll be developing an open-access website with lots of images of early printed books so that readers without readily available special collections can start to learn what such books look like. § continue reading

being a reader, again and still

There’s a story my parents used to tell of me as a child and how much I loved to read. Reading was what my family did in the evenings; we sat in the room we referred to as the study and read. One evening I was so deeply engrossed in my book that I had no idea they were talking to me; this was entertaining enough that they were both watching me to see how long it would be before I responded. It was long enough that it became a tale they told, part of how they understood who I was.

I have always identified as a reader—a bookworm who understood the world by reading novels. It’s because I loved reading so much that I wanted to be an English professor (yes, if someone hadn’t intervened, I would’ve written one of those applications for grad school that gushed about how I loved to read). § continue reading

drumroll please….

I introduce to you the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Digital Media Strategist . . . Me! This is a new position in the newly-created division of Digital Media and Publications at the Library and it should offer lots of exciting opportunities to explore how the Folger’s digital resources develop. Those of you who have been following this blog and my twitter feed will know that I’ve had an ongoing interest in how digital tools might enable new ways of interacting with special collections, ranging from online publications (like the research blog I created for the Library, The Collation) and social media (like @FolgerResearch) to imagining not-yet-realized possibilities like topographies of books and smell-o-meters and virtual vaults. I can’t say yet what directions this new position will take me in, but I am excited to explore what I can do to make the Folger’s digital presence and offerings as inspiring and revolutionary as their physical holdings.  § continue reading

Make your own luck

What follows is a presentation I gave at the 2013 convention of the Modern Language Association (known fondly by many of us as #mla13) in the session “How Did I Get Here? Our “Altac” Jobs.” The session was a roundtable discussion, with pecha kucha presentations, about “alternative academic” careers. You can watch the slides with my audio, or read the presentation and look at the slides on your own. My thanks to Brenda Bethman and Shaun Longstreet for organizing the panel and to my fellow panelists and to the audience for a great conversation. (Update: Slideshare no longer supports slides with audio, or at least, no longer supports what I had done, so if you want to hear me, you’ll have to listen to this audio and click through the slides yourself; it’s around 20 seconds a slide if you want to keep pace.)

“Make your own luck” (MLA 2013)

I am the Undergraduate Program Director at the Folger Shakespeare Library, a position I’ve held for six years. § continue reading

traces of my dad

Arnold Werner, 1938-2007 (self-portrait)

When I was a kid, my father wrote a weekly column for the student newspaper at Michigan State University, where he taught. “The Doctor’s Bag” ran in the State News for six years, from 1969 through 1975. It was eventually syndicated and ran in 50 campus newspapers, with a circulation of around 600,000. What this means, in part, is that when I was little people used to ask me if my dad was “The Doctor’s Bag.” (That’s how they used to phrase it: Is your dad “The Doctor’s Bag?”) I had no idea what the column was; I just knew he wrote it. At some point, I gathered that it was a medical advice column answering students’ questions about all things health related. It wasn’t until I was an adult and Dad sent me copies of the entire run of the column that I sat down and read them. § continue reading