PHBAC Virtual Book Talks Fall 2020 Schedule

In May 2020, the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) launched its Virtual Book Talks series. This new academic program showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes a presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience. This monthly program is held on the last Thursday of every month at 2PM. While it is free to attend, it does require registration prior to the event.

Today, we are delighted to not only invite our readers to our next talk on August 27 featuring Amy Hildreth Chen, but also to announce the upcoming Fall 2020 schedule. More details about the program may be found here:

If you’re interested in book history, you may also wish to sign up for our mailing list. Questions may be directed at Kevin Wisniewski, Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, at

We look forward to seeing you at one of our next programs!

Placing Papers with Amy Hildreth Chen

Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm EDT
Approx. 45 minutes

Please join us on August 27 at 2PM, for next installment of PHBAC’s Virtual Book Talk series. Our guest will be Amy Hildreth Chen, author of Placing Papers: The American Literary Archives Market.

The sale of authors’ papers to archives has become big news, with collections from James Baldwin and Arthur Miller fetching record-breaking sums in recent years. Amy Hildreth Chen offers the history of how this multi-million dollar business developed from the mid-twentieth century onward and considers what impact authors, literary agents, curators, archivists, and others have had on this burgeoning economy.

The market for contemporary authors’ archives began when research libraries needed to cheaply provide primary sources for the swelling number of students and faculty following World War II. Demand soon grew, and while writers and their families found new opportunities to make money, so too did book dealers and literary agents with the foresight to pivot their businesses to serve living authors. Public interest surrounding celebrity writers had exploded by the late twentieth century, and as Placing Papers illustrates, even the best funded institutions were forced to contend with the facts that acquiring contemporary literary archives had become cost prohibitive and increasingly competitive.

Amy Hildreth Chen is an independent scholar from North Liberty, Iowa, and author of Placing Papers: The American Literary Archives Market (U Mass Press, 2020). She previously worked as an academic librarian at the University of Iowa and University of Alabama. Chen obtained her PhD in English from Emory University in 2013.

Order this book directly from the publisher at

Readers interested in attending Chen’s talk may register for the event by clicking on this link. All those who register for the talk will be automatically entered to win a free signed copy the book.


Our summer schedule included topics on black print culture and citizenship in the early republic, early American music, the history of paper, and literary archive. Our fall schedule is just as diverse and dynamic: books in the digital age, the rise of the critic, early Latino literature, and the genealogies of race.

If you’ve missed one of our programs, don’t worry.  We record all of our book talks and make them available to the public on the AAS YouTube channel.

For your convenience, our first three talks’ recordings are re-posted below.  Hope to see you at the next talk!!!

The Practice of Citizenship, Derrick R. Spires (Cornell University)

Cultivated by Hand, Glenda Goodman (University of Pennsylvania)

The Intimacy of Paper, Jonathan Senchyne (University of Wisconsin–Madison)



Published by

Kevin Wisniewski

Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, American Antiquarian Society

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *