Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland

Kirschenbaum explores how the age of digital literature has changed archiving and scholarship now and in the future.

March 14, 15, and 17, 2016. Lectures begin 5:30pm @ Orrery Pavilion, Kislak Center
Lecture Open to the public
3D-printed Arduino-powered replica of a Macintosh computer, model by DB Bauer

Bitstreams proposes an assessment of the future of literary heritage--by which I mean prospects for archives, public memory, and scholarship--in the face of what Virginia Woolf, referring to an earlier era of challenges and changes in book publishing, called certain "actual facts" (Three Guineas). For Woolf these were the implications of small presses, the Banda spirit duplicator and its kin, and typewriters for book printing and distribution. For us, the actual facts at hand are the ubiquity of computers as instruments of literary composition as well as editing and book design; the distribution of books through multiple media formats and platforms (e-books, audio books, print-on-demand, and so-called "transmedia" works); the profusion of literary conversation online (authors on social media, critical commentary on blogs, and the massive store of readers' reviews and rankings on sites like Amazon or Goodreads); and finally, not least, the hybridity of the contemporary media archive, commingling printed and digital artifacts and objects, the latter variously stored on personal devices but also (increasingly) in the inaccessible reaches of the "cloud."

Schedule and Recordings

Event Series

A.S.W. Rosenbah

The A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography

The Rosenbach Fellowship in Bibliography, established by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in 1928, honors a gift for that purpose from A.S.W. Rosenbach, one of America's greatest book dealers and collectors.

Featured image: 3D-printed Arduino-powered replica of a Macintosh computer running a graphical adventure game based on William Gibson's novel Neuromancer. Model by DB Bauer, University of Maryland. Used with permission.