12th Annual Book Arts Lecture: Professor Julie Stone Peters on "Theater Beyond the Book"

NEW YORK, January 17, 2006 The Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library will host its 12th annual Book Arts Lecture this month, featuring Julie Stone Peters, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, who will speak on “Theater Beyond the Book.” The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, in the Faculty Room of Low Memorial Library. The talk is free and open to the public.

Detail of "Brander Matthews (Bookman)" Pen and ink drawing

Since 1995, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library has presented its annual Book Arts Lecture during Bibliography Week, when the principal national organizations devoted to book history have their annual meetings in New York. The series explores topics in a wide variety of related fields including calligraphy, paper, type design, printing, illustration and book binding.

This year’s lecture, “Theater Beyond the Book,” will offer an historical perspective on contemporary problems of representing theater in the library, the museum, and the archive. Professor Peters will examine the simultaneous emergence of the modern concept of theater and the printed book in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the attempt to represent theater through the book in the centuries that followed, and the definition of theater as, by nature, “beyond the book.” Drawing on examples from the Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum at Columbia University, she will also look at the changing meaning of theater in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with the development of anthropology, the spread of mass media, and the rise of digital culture.

"Brander Matthews (Bookman)" Pen and ink drawing

A book signing and a reception will follow the talk from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where guests can view an exhibit featuring The Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. Copies of Professor Peters’ latest book, Theatre of the Book: Print, Text, and Performance in Europe, 1480–1880 (Oxford University Press, 2000), will be available for sale.

Julie Stone Peters is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia. She is a specialist in early modern and modern comparative drama, and her work has also focused on the history of the book and the literary and cultural dimensions of the law. She received her A.B. from Yale, her Ph.D. from Princeton, and her J.D. from Columbia, has been a visiting professor at Stanford University and the University of Siena, and has won fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Humboldt Foundation (among others). Theatre of the Book has won numerous awards, including the American Comparative Literature Association’s Harry Levin Prize. Among her other publications are Women's Rights, Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives (co-edited, Routledge, 1995), Congreve, the Drama, and the Printed Word (Stanford University Press, 1990), and numerous articles on the history of drama and performance and the cultural history of the law.

The Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum at Columbia University is one of the oldest theater collections in the United States. Initiated in 1911 by James Brander Matthews (1852–1929), the nation’s first professor of drama, in order to teach the history of the theatre through artifacts, images and the texts themselves, the collection includes stage models representing historical periods, scripts and theatrical designs, 30,000 images of actors and entertainers, and masks and puppets acquired from dealers and performers around the world. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia University has housed this collection since 1971, when the Dramatic Museum closed. The current exhibition of materials from the Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum will run through February 17, 2006; viewing hours for this semester are as follows: Monday, from 12:00 noon to 7:45 p.m. and Tuesday–Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

For more information regarding the Book Arts Lecture or to attend this year’s event, please respond to mh932@columbia.edu or call 212-854-4768. To view other book-related events at Columbia, visit the Columbia University Bookstore’s website.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children’s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For additional information about the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

01/17/06 ICL