Event by The Bibliographical Society of America

The Screenplay as Material Text

The Screenplay as Material Text

Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM (EST)
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Screenplays are bibliographical frankensteins. They are book-objects used to circulate the “same” text to multiple people in more than one printed copy. They are also manuscript-like, produced and circulated in multiple drafts over time, and most are never commercially published. Libraries tend to acquire them not for their value as stand-alone objects, but as part of personal or corporate archives. And last but not least, they were overwhelmingly produced by women tapping away on typewriters in Hollywood studio typing pools. Scripts challenge some of our most basic assumptions about printerly labor.

In this webinar, Kevin Johnson and Erin Schreiner will introduce screenplays as collectible, hybrid textual objects with research value for those interested not only in film studies, but also in the production and circulation of non-letterpress text in the 20th century. Kevin and Erin will also review several materially distinctive features of scripts including their format, binding, provenance, and the various office duplication machines used to print them.  

Kevin Johnson has been a seller and appraiser of rare books for over 20 years. He owns Royal Books in Baltimore, Maryland, specializing in rare books and paper relating to world literature, cinema, and the arts. Mr. Johnson is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). He has spoken on the subject of rare cinema paper at Yale University, the University of Virginia, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Johnson has also published a recent book on rare cinema paper, The Celluloid Paper Trail: Identification and Description of Twentieth Century Film Scripts, as well as two books on the first edition sources for American film noir, The Dark Page (1940-1949) and The Dark Page II (1950-1965), all with Oak Knoll Press. In 2014, he curated an exhibition of rare cinema-related photographs at the American Film Institute titled, Behind the Fourth Wall: Actors and Directors on the Set 1926-2001.

Erin Schreiner is the Executive Director of the Bibliographical Society of America. Her background is in librarianship, and since 2008 she has worked with library and private collections of rare materials in New York City and elsewhere. In 2018 she published "Printing the Screenplay in Hollywood and Beyond" in Printing History (NS 24); her research on the production of screenplays continues. Erin has been awarded fellowships and grants by the Harry Ransom Center (the home of the Selznick Pictures archive to which she hopes to return soon), Rare Book School, and the Bibliographical Society of the UK.


Event hosted by

The Bibliographical Society of America
67 West Street, Suite 401 Unit C17
Brooklyn, NY, 11222
Erin McGuirl, Executive Director

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