I am interested in what books do to people, and what people do to books. My personal research has branched along two different lines of inquiry. On one hand, I examine how early modern printers talk about their trade and technology within the pages of printed books, and on the other, how modern scholars discuss and cite rare materials.
I am interested in printer’s epistles as cultural spaces where printers situated both their trade and the technology of print for readers. Over the first hundred and fifty years of printing in English, printers, authors, and readers became increasingly familiar with what it was printers did. Epistolary explanations of their role in mediating textual transmission shifted from sincere explanations of the decisions which shaped the “forme and manner” of printed books to increasingly standardized and parodied explanations of textual acquisition and emendation. Books are rare material objects that have a chance to offer an explanation for their manufacture, and these explanations provide an opportunity for scholars to study how textual producers integrate the new technology into the lives of their customers.
I am equally interested in how modern scholars discuss the sources and methodologies of archival research in their published scholarship. In what circumstances do scholars cite specific rare materials and when does a citation to an edition, or any form of a work, serve their purpose? What social pressures, including manuals of style and academic publishing practices, encourage some forms of citation over others? What can current citation practices tell us about humanities research, and where is there a mismatch between the practices we encourage and the research being performed?
As different as their content would appear, I see these two research paths as highly complimentary, as both are concerned with how material ends up in print, and what stories we tell about how it got there.