stretching the boundaries

This was only the second SHARP conference I’ve attended (I attended SHARP 2001 in Williamsburg, VA, and I had a paper read for me in London at SHARP 2002), but I feel I can say with some confidence that SHARP offers a diverse and satisfying program. In fact, in almost every time slot I had to make hard choices about which papers to see and which ones to miss. I often chose sessions dealing with topics out of my time period or out of my area of specialization just to see what kind of intellectual cross-pollination might result.

In conversation with others (and in my subsequent reflection) a few topics arose that seem a natural fit with SHARP, but that I haven’t seen addressed in this venue. (Disclaimer: I do not, of course, have a comprehensive knowledge of everything presented at past SHARPs, or even everything published in Book History, the organization’s journal.) I know there are people writing about these topics, but they need to learn about SHARP, or be persuaded that they should join the organization, present at the conference, and publish in the journal.

  • Representations of authorship, reading, and publishing in writing, photography, painting, film, television.
  • New media, digital studies, electronic publishing, the rise and fall (and rise?) of ebooks, online bookselling and auctioning, blogging (!), PDAs, text messaging.
  • Comic books and graphic novels.
  • Music, the RIAA versus the world, Digital Rights Management tools.
  • More on the history and future of intellectual property, the DMCA, the Creative Commons movement.
  • Disability studies, “adaptive” technologies for reading and writing.
  • The history and future of academic publishing and its relationship to tenure decisions.
  • The role that race, gender, and sexuality have played in antiquarianism, private (discriminatory) clubs devoted to the collection and study of rare books, and the development of the academic field(s) of bibliography.

If you attended SHARP this year, or are a member, please feel free to leave your comments on this entry as to what you might like to see more work on in the future. (Of course, regular readers of this blog are also welcome to comment, as usual.)

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