The 70th Annual Meeting of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia was called to order at 4:05 p.m. on Friday, March 24, 2017 in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute/ Small Special Collections Library by President G. Thomas Tanselle. He expressed his pleasure that the meeting is again part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, and he encouraged those attending to take advantage of the many other opportunities of the Festival.
Mr. Tanselle reviewed the status of the Society’s publication program. Gordon Ray’s excellent survey of the bibliographical world, Books as a Way of Life, has been out of print, and the Society will publish a reprint of it in April. Another publication anticipated in 2017 is a collection of John Bidwell’s essays on paper and type. Volume 60 of Studies in Bibliography is also expected to come out this year. Work is progressing on the electronic publication of Barry Neavill’s bibliography of the Modern Library publications. Mr. Tanselle expressed his gratitude to David Vander Meulen and his assistant Elizabeth Lynch for their diligence in seeing all these publications through the press, an effort he likened to a “mini-university press.”
At the Council meeting that preceded the Annual Meeting, Mr. Tanselle reported, the Council approved an additional gift of $5,000 to the Special Collections library for purchases on bibliographical history.
He announced that the minutes of the 2016 Annual Meeting would be accepted as written, unless corrections were brought up after this meeting. He thanked the Secretary-Treasurer, Anne Ribble, for her efficiency and good humor.
Mr. Tanselle proposed nominations to fill two positions on the Council: John Unsworth, Dean of Libraries at the University, for the spot left vacant at Nicole Bouché’s departure, and David Whitesell, Curator of Special Collections, for re-election to the Council. He cited Mr. Unsworth’s extensive connections to the University and the Society’s longstanding tradition of electing the University Librarian to serve on the Council. Mr. Whitesell, he noted, has played an active role with the Book Collecting Contest, the Battestin Fellowships, and the Society’s purchases for the Special Collections library. The nominations were seconded and accepted unanimously.
Mr. Tanselle reported that at the earlier meeting the Society officers—Mr. Tanselle, President, Mr. Vander Meulen, Vice President, and Ms. Ribble, Secretary-Treasurer—were re-elected. With regret, he reported that Ruthe Battestin, who has served on the Council for 38 years, has decided to retire. In recognition of her unprecedented leadership, service, and generosity, the Council had voted to name Ms. Battestin an Honorary Member of the Council. Mr. Tanselle expressed deep appreciation for the work of all the Council members over the last year—Ms. Battestin, Terry Belanger, David Seaman, David Vander Meulen, and David Whitesell.
Mr. Tanselle turned the meeting over to Mr. Vander Meulen to announce the winners of the Battestin Fellowships for 2017. Mr. Vander Meulen thanked Mr. Whitesell and Michael Suarez, S.J., for joining Mr. Tanselle in judging the entries. These fellowships are named for Martin Battestin, longtime professor of English at the University, and his wife Ruthe, both dedicated supporters of the Society’s work. The awards are a pleasing combination, he said, of bibliographical and textual studies, encouragement for local graduate students, and support for work in UVa libraries. Grants are for $3,500 each. The students must be continuing their studies in a PhD program at UVa in the fall, and they must plan to work for two months of the summer on a project involving books and documents in any field as long as the focus is on the physical object (in whatever form) as historical evidence. Mr. Vander Meulen announced this year’s winners:
Evan G. Cheney (English), “Diplomatic Character and the Papers of Sir Henry Unton”;
Andrew Jacob Hill (French), “Mapping the Cult of Saint Margaret with French Medieval Books of Hours”;
Emelye M. Keyser (English), “Political History or Historical Politics? Representations of George Buchanan’s Rerum Scoticarum historia, 1581–1766”; and
Peter N. Miller (English), “Forms Cut in Time: Ezra Pound’s Cantos in the Age of Recorded Sound.”
The Battestin Fellows who were present, Messrs. Cheney, Hill, and Miller, were asked to speak briefly about their research projects.
Mr. Tanselle introduced the speaker, John T. Casteen III, UVa President Emeritus and a University Professor teaching in English, Architecture, and Public Policy. His speech was entitled “Some of What We Learned While Seeking Our New Dean of Libraries, or, Things Are Not Always As They Seem (But Sometimes They Are).”
Mr. Casteen’s talk was followed by a reception in the Rare Book School rooms in Alderman Library. The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.