Society for History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing Conference Recap
Roy M. Carlisle recently attended his first S.H.A.R.P. international scholars conference. S.H.A.R.P. is the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing. Scholars from all over the world gathered in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania for this 21st annual conference to discuss the state of the book in a global context and share their historical, sociological, literary, geographic, and informational systems research on the History of the Book. It was a rare opportunity to see how a new academic field is establishing itself and expanding beyond and through multiple disciplines.
There it was, the entire four-volume set, sitting on the top shelf in the display of Oak Knoll Books and Press: A History of Publishing in the United States by J.W. Tebbel. This is my favorite set of books, bar none, and seeing it there was a sign to me that I was in the right place at the right time. I felt an intellectual shiver, as if I were standing in a sacred space, and for me it signaled the joy I was going to experience for the next three days. I was browsing in the small exhibit hall on the ground floor of Cohen Hall on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for the 21st Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (S.H.A.R.P.), which was held in Philadelphia from July 18 to 21, 2013. After reading dozens of books about the history of publishing throughout my career, here I was, for the first time, surrounded by 299 registered attendees at, arguably, the most interesting scholarly conference on publishing, printing, and book history in the world. It is hard to express how exciting this was to me and I had to keep reminding myself that I was really here, after months, even years, of anticipation.