The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection includes nearly three hundred manuscripts and documents ranging in date from ca. 1900BC to the 20th century, with particular focus on the eras of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The question of how the physical form of a text influences its meaning and reception underpins the entire field of material texts studies. It can be posed to all manner of “texts,” from the pre-modern manuscripts for which Penn is renowned, to the earliest editions of Shakespeare, fine press editions, 19th century block-illustrated Japanese shunga, comic books, and even documentary photography that circulates as a form of visual text. What distinguishes Penn is the depth and prominence of both its collections and scholarly engagement—the latter as evidenced by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Workshop in the History of Material Texts (co-programmed with the Department of English), and A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography. To that end, we are most interested in adding objects that reveal or speak to their own production in ways unique or substantively additive to material text studies.
The Penn Libraries hold a collection of more than 600 medieval manuscript fragments from the Cairo Genizah.
The Horace Howard Furness Memorial Library focuses on Shakespeare’s works, their history and theatrical context, and the long tradition of Shakespearian criticism.
The Gotham Book Mart was a vital bookstore in the New York literary scene from its creation in 1920 to its closing in 2006. In 2008, after the closure of the bookstore, the Penn Libraries received the remaining stock of books, along with papers and other items from this landmark institution.