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November 8, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST




An Informal Panel Discussion

Sponsored by the Lafayette College Humanities Center,

Organized for the Second Annual Easton Book Festival



Organizer and moderator:

– Eric Ziolkowski, Helen H. P. Manson Professor of Bible



Shakespeare’s First Folio: The Gift Two Fellow Players Gave Him—and Us

– June Schlueter, Charles A. Dana Professor Emerita of English and former Provost of the College



Across the world, Shakespeare is held in high esteem, considered by many to be the greatest writer of all time. Yet without the First Folio of his plays that his friends John Heminge and Henry Condell compiled and had published in 1623, Shakespeare’s place in literary and cultural history may not have been so secure. June Schlueter, Professor Emerita of English at Lafayette and the College’s longest serving Provost, explains why the First Folio was not only a gift to Shakespeare but a gift to all of us.



A Biography of the Chinese Book: From Oracle Bones to E-publications

– Xu Ma, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies



Few cultures, if any, have had a more enduring written tradition and book culture than has China. The history of China is arguably conterminous with the formation of an “empire of the text.” My discussion will sketch the 4000-year life story of Chinese books/non-books, including animal bones, bronze vessels, bamboo clips, stone drums, inscribed monuments, silk manuscripts, pagoda-shaped sutras, printed and E-books. These protean carriers of non-alphabetical scripts invite us to reconceptualize books as both transcendental intellectual entities and transforming material objects, and reconsider the relationship of people and text in terms of the dialectic between constraints transgressed and freedoms bridled.



The Book as Art Form

– Jim Toia Director of Community-based Teaching, Williams Visual Arts Building



For generations artists have regarded the “art book” as an alternative approach to the art making process and as a familiar structure in which to situate their work. As a young artist I desired an audience’s contact with an object to advance the intimacy between object and observer, a condition the museum and gallery world would not permit. The book format demanded the necessity of contact. One could not enter the artist’s work without embracing it, thus breaking institutional rules of decorum and inviting an intimacy seldom experienced within the sterility of the gallery space. I will take the audience through the development of the art book as art form and highlight a number of works that helped usher my early work into the art world.



What’s so Special about Special Collections?
– Thomas Lannon, Director of Special Collections & Archives

What kind of stories can be told about the books we own and value? What’s the difference between these valuable books and archival collections often described as old and dusty. In this talk, I will describe how special collections professionals work to encourage and facilitate new connections with texts and collections that support a broad range of values and virtues in society. I was recently appointed Director of Special Collections & Archives at Lafayette College, having been previously a curator and archivist at the New York Public Library.