Isaac Gewirtz, a curator at the New York Public Library, will deliver the 25th annual Fox-Adler Lecture at Skidmore College on Thursday, Sept. 19. His talk, titled "Reading the Literary Archive: A Tale of Scholarship and Taste," will begin at 5:15 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.
Gewirtz's illustrated talk will focus on how the literary archive enhances the study, appreciation, and collecting of English and American literature. The first half of the lecture will be on the 19th century, and the second half will move into the 20th century, drawing on examples from the archives of such authors as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. The lecture will include a brief history of the Berg Collection in the context of the evolution of the attitudes of scholars, collectors, and to some extent, educated society as a whole toward English and American literature. He will then demonstrate what Burroughs did to shape his archive and make it work as an intersection between his published writings and his life.
Gewirtz has served as curator of the New York Public Library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature since September 2000. The author of "I am With You": Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, 1855-2005, he curated the New York Public Library's exhibition of the same title, as well as the exhibitions Victorians, Moderns, and Beats, New in the Berg Collection 1994-2001; Passion's Discipline: A History of the Sonnet in the British Isles and America (2003); and Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road, 1957-2007 (2007), accompanied by a volume of the same title, as well as Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats (2009).
He co-curated the exhibition Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress at the Morgan Library, co-sponsored by the Morgan and the New York Public Library, and authored a book of the same title. He is co-curator of the Morgan Library exhibition Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul (opens October 2013) and author of the accompanying volume. His comparative study of the proof copy and first edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own appeared in the 2012 Woolf Studies Annual. He has also been the curator of numerous exhibitions at other libraries and the author of several accompanying publications.
Gewirtz received a Ph.D. in early modern European history from Columbia University.
Skidmore's Fox-Adler lecture series is named for Norman M. Fox and Hannah Moriarta Adler, connoisseurs and collectors of rare books. Adler first loaned her extensive collection of 19th-century books to Skidmore in 1967, and after her death Fox and his family took charge of it, later donating it permanently to Skidmore's Scribner Library. Catherine Golden, professor of English at Skidmore, coordinates the Fox-Adler program at the college.
Admission is free and open to the public.