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K-State Today

October 19, 2020

Dippold receives prestigious fellowship, leads panel on race and book history

Submitted by Karin Westman

Steffi Dippold

What can a book's size, binding, and material history tell us about the influence of Indigenous readers and craftsmen on early American print culture?

Steffi Dippold, associate professor of English, is answering that question with the assistance of a prestigious two-year fellowship at the University of Virginia's Rare Book School, funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Dippold is one of 10 scholars selected to join the 2019-2021 cohort of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography.

As a junior fellow, Dippold will co-host a public symposium Tuesday, Oct. 20, on "Race and the Boundaries of the Book: Seven Early American Perspectives." 

The symposium asks how book history and small and overlooked formats allow scholars to recover marginalized voices and perspectives. It will feature an interactive blend of prerecorded video, analysis of specific material texts and a livestreamed panel discussion to pursue larger questions raised by the fields of early American literature and book history about race. Registration is free but required in advance.

"My research is keenly interested in lost and marginalized archives," Dippold said, "and the RBS panel is a wonderful opportunity to discuss with a diverse group of scholars how we can develop new and better approaches that make humble forms and disrupted records and materials come to live and tell their important narratives."

Dippold's fellowship with the Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography places her in collaboration with colleagues whose research involves a wide range of objects, from printed books and illuminated manuscripts to coins and medals, carved stones, moveable books, digitized newspapers and photographic archives. As fellows of the society, they aim to advance "the study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects through capacious, interdisciplinary scholarship and enriching humanistic inquiry and education by identifying, mentoring and training promising early-career scholars," according to its mission. The society's scholars — assembled from the fields of bibliography, librarianship, book history, manuscript studies and the digital humanities — are a perfect match for Dippold's projects.

In addition to the Mellon Fellowship from the Rare Book School, Dippold has also recently received a 2020 Paul W. McQuillen Memorial Fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University; a short-term 2019-2020 Winterthur Fellowship; and a 2020-2021 long-term American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

Dippold's many fellowships will help her to complete her first book, "Plain as in Primitive: The Figure of the Native in Early America, 1640-1700."

"Dippold's research projects and public symposium place her at the cutting edge of critical bibliographic studies and book history, as she joins with librarians, historians, scientists, and archivists to discover how the material life of a book — its paper, its binding, its printing, its images, and its words — grants us a window on the past. We're excited to see the discoveries she will make in the months ahead," said Karin Westman, department head of English.

More information about Dippold's research is available from the Department of English blog and Dippold's faculty page.