Over the past year, Julian Neuhauser, a VCU English graduate student, has been cataloging VCU Libraries’ trove of books published before 1800, allowing researchers to not only search by author, title and subject, but also now by a wide variety of material features. These rare books have long been available to researchers as part of VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, but thanks to the efforts of Neuhauser, they are now more accessible than ever before. “Books are artifacts,” Neuhauser says. “Yes, they’re stories and, yes, they’re literary items, but they’re also artifacts from a specific time and place. They’re as close as you can get to reaching back to that culture.” To Julian, a book not only represents “the intellectual labor of the author and the zeitgeist of the time,” but they also contain evidence of the “physical and social labor” that characterized the material productive capacity of the time.
For more information on Julian’s project with VCU Libraries please read the recent article in VCU News.