The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

“Trade and plum-cake forever, huzza!” So said John Newbery, the 18th-century publisher who first established children’s literature as a stand-alone segment of the literary marketplace. His name is attached to the world’s first children’s book prize, a distinguished honor and lucrative sales boost established in 1922 by the American Library Association. For the past six years, his name has also been attached to a more raucous celebration of creativity: the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. Created and run by children’s author James Kennedy, this annual make-your-own-video contest invites young readers to condense any Newbery winner down to a 90-second film. Kids then get a chance to see their movies at gala screenings held all over the US, cohosted by Kennedy and local children’s writers.

Public Books section editor and Literature at MIT professor Marah Gubar, who studies youth culture, recently attended one of these joyously anarchic screenings. She didn’t win any books during the surprise giveaway that sent audience members scrambling under seats in search of golden tickets. But she did get to see Kennedy and his Boston-based cohost M. T. Anderson—author of Feed, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing …, and other award-winning young adult books—perform a witty musical number penned by Kennedy and focused on the history of the Newbery Medal. And she also got to speak to Kennedy afterward about the pros and cons of handing out prizes, what it means to be creative, intergenerational collaboration, and brains in jars.

View the full interview here

Wyn Kelley awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Wyn Kelley, Senior Lecturer of Literature and founding member of the Melville Society Cultural Project, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to be a lead faculty member for “Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age,” a summer institute for School Teachers that will take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts from June 17-30, 2018.

Read More

Rare Book School Receives Grant to Support Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography

Rare Book School has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. Building on the success of the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography, this new scholarly organization will identify and investigate matters of new, compelling cross-disciplinary interest in the areas of bibliography and book history. The Society will especially direct its energies toward addressing the interpretation of original textual artifacts in concert with emerging techniques and technologies for the analysis and transmission of texts. Click here to learn more.

Current RBS-Mellon Fellows will be invited to join the Society as Senior Fellows, who will be responsible for the governance of the Society, for the planning of the annual meeting and additional Society-sponsored programming, and for the recruitment and selection of new members. Each year, ten Junior Fellows will be selected to join the Society through an open application process: they will receive funding to attend an orientation as part of the Society’s annual meeting, to take two Rare Book School courses, and to host a public symposium at their home institution. Junior Fellows will also be invited to attend a bibliographical field school. After two years of membership in the Society, Junior Fellows in good standing will become Senior Fellows.

Early-career scholars and researchers from all fields are eligible to apply for membership in the Society of Fellows. Applications are especially encouraged from individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, individuals from under-resourced institutions, and individuals working on topics currently underrepresented in the fields of book history and bibliography.

Applications will be available in early September and due on 1 November. To receive notification when applications have opened, please join the RBS mailing list.

Click here for more information about the Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography


Associate Professor of Literature at MIT Stephanie Frampton was recently elected the first president of Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography.