Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Oct. 8, 2021, 6:50 a.m. Humanist 35.289 - pubs: digital literary heritage

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 289.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-10-07 15:34:28+00:00
        From: Matthew Kirschenbaum <>
        Subject: Announcement: New Book and Book Launch

I am happy to announce the release of my book /Bitstreams: The Future
of Digital Literary Digital Heritage/
( from the University of
Pennsylvania Press.The ad copy is below, and attached you’ll also find a
flyer with a 20% off discount code— the book is simultaneous paperback,
so with the discount it is $20 US + shipping.

While there is little in this one that breaks new ground in terms of
Actual Computer History (tm), I hope the book does succeed in showing
the extent to which fields like literary studies and media studies
increasingly *depend* on computer history. Chapter 2, in particular,
juxtaposes the careers of two poets (William Dickey and Kamau
Brathwaite) with the rise of desktop publishing in the 1980s.

The English Department at Maryland is hosting a virtual book launch on
Wed., Oct 20 at 12 noon EDT (see banner below). I will be in
conversation about the book with my colleague, Dr. Marisa Parham.
Registration for the event (free) is here:
All are welcome!

Thank you-- Best, Matt

Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

160 pages | 6 x 9 | 12 halftones
Cloth Oct 2021 | ISBN 9780812253412 | $65.00s | Outside the Americas £52.00
Paper Oct 2021 | ISBN 9780812224955 | $24.95s | Outside the Americas £18.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Material Texts

Table of Contents

Preface. Actual Facts
Introduction. The Bitstream
Chapter 1. Archives Without Dust
Chapter 2. The Poetics of Macintosh
Chapter 3. The Story of S.
Coda. The Postulate of Normality in Exceptional Times

   "Matthew Kirschenbaum has almost single-handedly taught us how to
read digital objects as material texts. Now, in this field-defining
achievement, he shows us the future of bibliography. Like the works of
D. F. McKenzie before it, Bitstreams will be required reading for
generations to come." —Whitney Trettien, University of Pennsylvania

What are the future prospects for literary knowledge now that literary
texts—and the material remains of authorship, publishing, and
reading—are reduced to bitstreams, strings of digital ones and zeros?
What are the opportunities and obligations for book history, textual
criticism, and bibliography when literary texts are distributed across
digital platforms, devices, formats, and networks? Indeed, what is
textual scholarship when the "text" of our everyday speech is a verb as
often as it is a noun?

These are the questions that motivate Matthew G. Kirschenbaum in
/Bitstreams/, a distillation of twenty years of thinking about the
intersection of digital media, textual studies, and literary archives.
With an intimate narrative style that belies the cold technics of
computing, Kirschenbaum takes the reader into the library where all
access to Toni Morrison's "papers" is mediated by digital technology; to
the bitmapped fonts of Kamau Brathwaite's Macintosh; to the process of
recovering and restoring fourteen lost "HyperPoems" by the noted poet
William Dickey; and finally, into the offices of Melcher Media, a small
boutique design studio reimagining the future of the codex.

A persistent theme is that bits—the ubiquitous ones and zeros of
computing—are never self-identical, but always inflected by the material
realities of particular systems, platforms, and protocols. These
materialities are not liabilities: they are the very bulwark on which we
stake the enterprise for preserving the future of literary heritage.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is author of Mechanisms: New Media and the
Forensic Imagination and Track Changes: A Literary History of Word
Processing. He is Professor of English and Digital Studies at the
University of Maryland, College Park.

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Professor of English and Digital Studies
Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
Printer's Devil, BookLab
University of Maryland <>

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