Congratulations to the 2024 New Scholars!

Congratulations to the 2024 New Scholars! Winners presented fifteen-minute talks on their research during the program preceding the Society’s Annual Meeting on January 26 as part of Bibliography Week. In addition to presenting live at the Annual Meeting, the Scholars also presented their talks in dedicated virtual sessions held during the month of January 2024.

About the New Scholars Program

The BSA New Scholars Program strives to welcome researchers who have not previously published, lectured, or taught on bibliographical subjects by nurturing and promoting their scholarship. Each year, three New Scholars receive a cash award of $1,000, a $500 travel stipend, and the opportunity to present at the Society’s Annual Meeting and receive mentorship when they submit their work to our journal, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America.

Learn more about the 2024 New Scholars below.

D.F. McKenzie New Scholar: Hallie Nell Swanson

Moving Stories: The Indo-Persian Romance

Fort William College, founded in Calcutta in 1801 to teach Indian languages to English East India Company officers, employed local writers and scribes to produce teaching materials, resulting in a flurry of literary production as they adapted extant stories to the demands of Company patrons. The College published their efforts as moveable-type textbooks, but also maintained a manuscript library, now scattered between Delhi, Kolkata and London, whose contents offer the writers’ perspective on their output and its patronage, omitted from the textbooks. Their prefaces, alongside the material features of Indo-Persian manuscript culture, show how the authors situate the texts in an established literary tradition, a link severed in the print editions.

Hallie Nell Swanson is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on Islam in South Asia. Her dissertation, ‘Moving Stories: The Indo-Persian Romance, 1650-1850’ examines the circulation of Sufi ideas through the romance genre in Persian, Dakhni, Urdu and Punjabi. She is research assistant on the ‘Hindustani Airs’ project at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which spotlights a multilingual illustrated manuscript of songs from late eighteenth-century Lucknow.

Jacob Blanck & Dorothy Porter Wesley New Scholar: Yolanda Mackey

Reclaiming and Recovering Claude Mckay’s “Lost” Novel Amiable with Big Teeth

When Amiable with Big Teeth (1941/2017), perhaps McKay’s most political novel was found as a complete, yet unpublished typescript mixed in Samuel Roth’s papers at Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, scholarly understanding of the Harlem or New Negro Renaissance expanded. Its recovery in 2009, nearly seven decades after it was written, posed new questions on the movement’s potential, inviting speculation as to what its impact might have been had it been published contemporaneously. Amiable reveals the struggle to develop collective identity and action among “Aframericans,” suggesting that the Renaissance was more radical than previously thought. Recovering McKay’s novel decades after he initially wrote the text in 1941 suggests that the content creation of Black scholars and artists during the New Negro Renaissance did not dwindle in the mid-1930s, but rather the support for politically charged projects produced from this era is what dissipated. I argue that Amiable was denied publication in 1941 due to its explicit exploration of leftist political ideologies and its proximity to diasporic Blackness. This paper considers what it means to recover a lost text that is being read primarily outside of its intended political moment. 

Yolanda Mackey is a PhD Candidate in the English and African American and Diaspora Studies Dual-Title Program at Pennsylvania State University. Yolanda’s project examines the radical dimensions and publishing history of texts from the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude. Her research has been supported by Penn State’s Africana Research Center, the African American Intellectual History Society, and she is the recent recipient of the Beinecke Library Research Fellowship.

Katherine F. Pantzer New Scholar: Andreas P. Bassett

The Typographical Evolution of Printed Play and Sermon Titles in the Early English Book Trade, 1590–1640

This paper examines the verbiage and typographical layout of playbook and sermon titles printed in sixteenth and seventeenth century London. Through long-term analyses of title design features, including naming convention, word count, line count, capitalization, italics, and line breaks, I reveal various general trends of typographical simplification and information streamlining in the printed titles of these two genres. Such title-page evolutions might indicate the presence of what I term the “Proot effect,” that is, the general tendency for hand-press era printed titles (and title-page paratexts more broadly) to adopt optimized typographical permutations over time. Thus, this paper proposes that aspects of Goran Proot’s documented  development of title-page paradigms in the early modern Southern Netherlands, as outlined in his PBSA article “Converging Design Paradigms” (2014), may have been concurrent across the North Sea in the early English book trade.

Andreas P. Bassett is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, where he studies early modern literature and book history. His research interests include Elizabethan and Jacobean drama and the early modern London book trade. Andreas is the creator of the digital humanities resource, Marlowe in Sheets, which was featured as a digital exhibit at the 2023 Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting. In January 2024, Andreas will complete a short-term fellowship at the Huntington Library as a W.M. Keck Foundation Fellow.