Join Us for “The Coevolution of Texts & Technology” by Cheryl Geisler on March 19

The Coevolution of Texts & Technology
Cheryl Geisler
Simon Fraser University

Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 1:30 p.m.
Third Floor Conference Room
Otto G. Richter Library


cherylGeisler_comp2As scholars of writing, we know the two-facedness of text. First, we know text as something contingent, an artifact that emerges out of process and circumstance, a thing with meaning and function embedded in orality and materiality. Second, we also know text as a cultural object, one that aspires to be fixed and unchanging, which claims to rise above circumstance to serve as an authoritative source. My career has been preoccupied with exploring the mechanisms and consequences of this two-facedness across the disciplines, first in academic philosophy, next in engineering design, and most recently in the context of the new technologies. I have argued that the mechanism and consequences of this two-facedness lies in understanding text as a kind of technology, one built by humans to do specific work in the world, while at the same time operating as a kind of black box into which we can pry only with some difficulty.   In the twentieth century, this work has constructed what Smith called documentary reality and it still within this framework that a great deal of what we teach about writing functions today. In the twenty-first century, however, much evidence suggests that texts are undergoing a second revolution as they are embedded in a host of new media technologies beginning with instant messaging in 1997 to Twitter (2006) and its successors. These are texts with characteristics quite distinct from those we encounter in our writing centers and classes: They have a different scope to their interaction. They bend time and space in different ways. And they do work in the world that we need to better understand.


About Cheryl Geisler
Cheryl Geisler is Professor of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University where she served as the inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology. She has written extensively on the nature of texts, especially those mediated by new technologies ( Her work focusing on the promotion of women in the academic ranks was recently published in Science (17, 2012), the flagship journal of the AAAS. She was the principal investigator on the just published Designing for User Engagement on the Web: 10 Basic Principles from Routledge (2014). A recognized expert on verbal data coding, she is the author of Analyzing Steams of Language (2004) and conducts an annual international workshop on verbal data analysis at Dartmouth College. She has received awards for her work from Computers and Composition, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the National Communication Association.


2015 Annual International Edible Book Festival at Richter Library


The University of Miami Libraries (UML) is calling for submissions to the 15th annual International Edible Book Festival. A popular event here at UM and universities worldwide, the festival celebrates the intellectually nourishing power of books in a fun and creative way—by turning them into edible art. UML’s 2015 festival will take place on April 1, 12-2:30 p.m., at the Otto G. Richter Library.


Due to popular demand, the deadline to register has been extended through Monday, March 30.


The Edible Book Festival is the dreamchild of Judith Hoffberg, a librarian and champion of artists’ books, and Beatrice Coron, a visual storyteller and book artist. (Many of Coron’s works are held in UML’s Special Collections.) Celebrated since 2000 in various parts of the world, the festival involves the creation, display, and eating of edible books. It generally falls on or around April 1, partly a nod to the April Fools’ tradition of “eating your words,” as the official website explains.

This year marks UML’s fifth celebration of the Edible Book Festival. View past entries »


Examples of past entries

Examples of past entries (from left): Bite Club, The Da Vinci Cod, The Picture of Dorito Gray, The Catcher in the Rye


9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Edible books entries accepted
Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Public viewing and judging
1:30 to 2 p.m.: Votes counted and prizes awarded
2 to 2:30 p.m.: Entries eaten by participants and viewers

How to Participate

ebf-judgingCategoriesAll UM students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend or participate in the festival by submitting an edible book, either as an individual or with a team. Your submission can be based on any kind of book, including a novel, diary, biography, pop-up book, comic, picture book, or artist’s book. How it’s reinvented into an edible form is completely up to you. All contest participants should register now.

The first fifty contestants will receive a commemorative UML Edible Book Festival apron when they submit their entry on April 1.



  • Entries must be edible and inspired by a book.
  • Entries should hold their shape while on display (about 2.5 hours without refrigeration).
  • Entries must be delivered to Richter Library on April 1 by 11:30 a.m. You are welcome to display your book inspiration (or cover image) alongside your entry.
  • If you believe that your entry qualifies for the “Healthiest” prize, please submit a list of ingredients on or before the festival day.


For additional questions, please email

CHC Recommends: Freedom’s Mirror by Ada Ferrer on March 2nd

Ada Ferrer is Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.  She will present her new book, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014) at Books & Books in Coral Gables on Monday, March 2, 2015, at 8:00 p.m.

ferrercoverDuring the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804, arguably the most radical revolution of the modern world, slaves and former slaves succeeded in ending slavery and establishing an independent state. Yet on the Spanish island of Cuba barely fifty miles distant, the events in Haiti helped usher in the antithesis of revolutionary emancipation. When Cuban planters and authorities saw the devastation of the neighboring colony, they rushed to fill the void left in the world market for sugar, to buttress the institutions of slavery and colonial rule, and to prevent “another Haiti” from happening in their own territory.

Freedom’s Mirror follows the reverberations of the Haitian Revolution in Cuba, where the violent entrenchment of slavery occurred at the very moment that the Haitian Revolution provided a powerful and proximate example of slaves destroying slavery. By creatively linking two stories – the story of the Haitian Revolution and that of the rise of Cuban slave society – that are usually told separately, Ada Ferrer sheds fresh light on both of these crucial moments in Caribbean and Atlantic history.

ferrerAda Ferrer’s first book, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898, (which appeared in French and Spanish translation) won the 2000 Berkshire Book Prize for the best first book by a woman in any field of history. Her recent article “Haiti, Free, Soil and Atlantic Antislavery” (2012) won the John Hope Franklin Prize from the Law and Society Association and the Paul Vanderwood Prize from the Conference of Latin American History. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Commission, among others.  Freedom’s Mirror was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 PROSE Award for European and World History by the Association of American Publishers.


The Lure of the Caribbean

Click to watch the video.

By Peter E. Howard, UM News

Hermes Mallea spent nearly an hour showcasing the Caribbean playgrounds of the rich and famous with the pace of a speed-dating encounter that took you from Bermuda and Barbados to Jamaica and Antiqua and Cuba’s hedonistic heights.

He showed how architects spun a web of elegance and simplicity in their work through nonstop slides and photos of properties as varied as Palm Beach’s haughty Mar-a-Lago to Laurance Rockefeller’s fabled RockResorts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There were the Victorian gingerbreads and those with European influence, and the breezy haciendas sans air conditioning or door locks.

Mallea, an alumnus of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, came back to town Tuesday evening for a presentation at the Otto G. Richter Library co-sponsored by UM Libraries and Books & Books.

He was here to tout his new book, Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour, and open a well-designed doorway to the “American Rivera” stretching from South Florida throughout the Caribbean.


Author, alumnus, and architect Hermes Mallea visited UM Libraries to discuss his latest book.

Mallea, B.Arch. ’78, who also studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, is a partner in the New York City-based design firm, M(Group).

The magical allure to each of the Caribbean locales, all of which ooze with romantic pining, find their footing in the writings of magazine and gossip columnists who reported on the jet-set lifestyles of celebrities and the wealthy. Mallea also gave a special nod to the pioneers who created the resorts, and their welcoming personas that attracted the right clientele.

“An escape to the Caribbean,” Mallea pointed out, “was always associated with the romance missing in our daily lives.”

The islands, each a cultured pearl with a personality formed by its past and its want for the future, mostly evolved from isolation into major tourist haunts through the ingenuity and drive of entrepreneurs, creative visionaries, and local tourism groups. Florida pushed its legend as home to the Fountain of Youth, while Havana of the 1950s was a mecca for drinking and gambling.

Mr. Mallea signed copies of books for guests after giving his presentation.

Mr. Mallea signed copies of books for guests after giving his presentation.

Mallea, who often lectures on historic preservation, is also author of Great Houses of Havana: A Centurey of Cuban Style. He is currently designing a Caribbean home for a client in the Dominican Republic, and is drawing on what he has learned through his research for Escape.

During a brief question and answer session following his lecture, Mallea commented on how Las Vegas appeared to have filled the void for gambling created after the Cuban revolution, and how Barbados is perhaps his favorite island with its pleasing architecture and non-gated communities.

Peter Howard can be reached at 305-284-8085.

From Cuban Rafters to Enemy Combatants: Lawyers Revisit Case that Turned Guantanamo into a Prison

By Catharine Skipp, Special to UM News


Lawyers involved in the case that determined the due process rights of more than 33,000 Cuban rafters who were intercepted at sea in 1994 and detained at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will discuss its historic significance during a panel discussion at the Richter Library, Cuban Heritage Collection, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, February 16. The case, Cuban America Bar Association v. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, laid the legal groundwork for the use of Guantánamo to detain enemy combatants after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“With all the seemingly endless talk of whether to close the detention centers at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, it is worth remembering that now is not the first time the base has held a group of people the United States wanted to contain in a ‘rights-free zone,’” said Christina Frohock, a scholar on Guantánamo and detainee issues and a faculty member at the School of Law, who will moderate the discussion.

“The panel will cast a current eye on events before 9/11, exploring two contrasting outcomes of the U.S. government’s housing in Guantánamo camps of more than 33,000 Cuban rafters intercepted at sea in August 1994,” Frohock said.

The participating panelists were all lead counsel in the CABA v. Christopher case in 1994 and 1995 before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. Haitian refugees, picked up at sea prior to the Cubans, were already housed in Guantánamo camps and later intervened as additional plaintiffs in the case.

  • One panelist will be Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, who is one of the country’s leading experts in public and international law, national security law, and human rights. He previously served as legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State, for which he received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award. He is past dean of Yale Law School, and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. Koh argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case on behalf of Haitian refugees.
  • Joining Koh will be Roberto Martinez, adjunct professor at Miami Law and partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, who successfully served as co-lead counsel in several anti-terrorism cases, including a $188 million wrongful death judgment in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down by Cuban Air Force MiG fighter aircraft. A former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Martinez has extensive expertise in the public and private sector.
  • Also participating will be Marcos Jimenez, J.D.’83, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Miami and New York, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida just after September 11, 2001, and on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys; and former president of the Florida Bar and the Cuban American Bar Association, Francisco Angones, J.D.’76, who  is a senior partner at Angones McClure & Garcia.

Angones was lead counsel in the Brothers to the Rescue case.

“This is an opportunity for a unique insight into a historic event that helped shape U.S. immigration and national security policies,” said Jimenez.

A reception at 5 p.m. will precede the panel discussion. The event is free and open to the public. CLE credits are pending.

To RSVP, click here.

This event is free of charge and cosponsored by the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection, Cuban American Bar Association, Southern Wine & Spirits, and Colson Hicks Eidson.

Weeks Music Library Celebration Brings Opera Collection to Life

Students performed during the event.

Vocal performance students Jennifer Voigt, Ana Collado, and Max Moreno perform historical opera compositions from the Roger Gross Opera Collection.

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and the 2014 acquisition of the historical Roger Gross Opera Collection, more than one hundred librarians, community members, and students and faculty of the Frost School of Music gathered for a reception and vocal performance at the library on Friday, January 23.

The event was presented by the University of Miami Libraries (UML) and the Frost School of Music. Dean of Libraries Chuck Eckman opened the program by describing the growth—and growing impact—of the Weeks Library over the past decade. “The generosity of the Weeks family and countless supporters have allowed the library to become a trusted resource for many, especially the students of the premier Frost School,” Eckman said.

Frost School of Music Dean Shelton Berg spoke on the importance of the library for music students, then introduced the three vocal performance students who sang pieces they selected from the Roger Gross collection while in Professor Karen Henson’s musicology class, “Singers and Opera Performance from Handel to ‘Live in HD’” last semester.

Max Moreno, a bass vocalist pursuing his doctorate in musical arts (DMA), who performed first—an aria written by Mozart in 1797 for German singer Ludwig Fischer—described the scope and purpose of the class, and the value of the collection, which helped the students dig deeper into the lives of the historic opera singers whom they were emulating, even allowing them to fill in biographical gaps in their online research.

Jennifer Voigt discusses her selection, “Stripsody” by Cathy Berberian, with University Trustee Marta Weeks-Wulf.

“We studied the different lives of these singers from throughout the history of opera and discussed the relationships between the composers that they sang for, the performances they presented, and just the general artistry—who they were, and why they were important to the field of opera,” Moreno said.

Sopranos Ana Collado, a senior in the Department of Vocal Performance, and Jennifer Voigt, also pursuing a DMA degree, followed with works by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and Cathy Berberian (1925-1983), respectively. Master’s piano student Leo Thorp accompanied the singers.

The library acquired the collection after the death of Roger Gross (1938-2013), a well-known New York autograph dealer and opera connoisseur who, over the course of his lifetime, accumulated thousands of books and other historical materials from the eighteenth century onward.

“This is a major acquisition for the University to have as a resource, and to see it explored, and hear it brought to life with such talent is deeply inspiring and rewarding,” said Nancy Zavac, Head of the Weeks Library, following the performance.



From left to right: Dean of Libraries Chuck Eckman, Karleton Wulf, University Trustee Marta Weeks-Wulf, and Frost School of Music Dean Shelton Berg.

Zavac concluded the program by thanking her staff and all who were in attendance, with a special nod to University Trustee Marta Weeks-Wulf, who with husband Austin Weeks (d. 2005) provided the funding to build the library. “We have so many marvelous collections and materials on hand for our users, and so many of them thanks to the suggestions, donations, perseverance, and passion from our faculty, students, and friends – friends like [Marta].  This facility would not exist without her and her family’s thoughtfulness and generosity.”


Photos by Andrew Innerarity.

For more information on the Weeks Library or the Roger Gross Opera Collection, visit

Join us February 10 for talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna

chc-lagunaThe Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries will present “Diasporic Diversión: Play and Popular Culture in Cuban America,” a talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Yale University, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.

Despite being a central concern for Cuban academics and a vital narrative mode in both art and quotidian life on the island, forms of cultural play have received scant attention in the context of the Cuban community in the United States. Through readings of popular forms of diversión such as stand-up comedy, radio, Internet humor, and festivals, Laguna examines the trajectory of the ludic in the Cuban diasporic context in order to sketch an understanding of how US-born Cuban Americans and more recent arrivals navigate their relationships to the United States, Cuba, and each other.

This event is cosponsored by the American Studies Program, Center for Latin American Studies, and Department of Modern Languages & Literatures.

Special Collections Celebrates Milestone for the Pan Am World Airways Collection

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

The planes bearing the name “Pan Am” may have retired nearly 25 years ago, but the company itself is still generating buzz as a pop culture fixture and timeless icon of progress and innovation. At the center of the conversation is University of Miami’s Special Collections, home of Pan Am World Airways’ official archive. The department receives thousands of requests for Pan Am records each year.


Archivist Emily Gibson led the two-year cataloging project for the Pan Am archive.

“People want to know everything from technical information about the planes and flight routes to details about in-flight meals or the evolution of flight attendants’ uniforms,” says archivist Emily Gibson, who has been working solely on the collection—one of UM’s largest and most popular—over the past two years. The work she has led is the cause for an upcoming celebration, Cleared to Land, which will take place at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center on January 29.

The event, presented by Special Collections, will include a reception and presentation culminating in a runway show by World Wings International, Inc., an organization of former Pan Am flight attendants who participate in a number of charitable causes worldwide. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Head of Special Collections Cristina Favretto says the event celebrates significant improvements in access to the Pan Am archive through the efforts of Gibson and 15 UM students. In 2012 the department hired Gibson through a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission to reorganize the collection’s 1,500 boxes of historical records, including photographs, administrative records, flight routes, publications, and many other materials acquired by Special Collections in 1992. “Emily and her team did a complete overhaul of the collection, and the result is a much more organized set of materials that are significantly easier to navigate and research,” she says, adding that Gibson has become the department’s “de facto Pan Am expert” in the process.


University of Miami cheerleaders at the christening of the Pan American Clipper Hurricane, a DC-4, tail number N88898, Miami, Florida, 1951.

Researchers come from all over the world to use the collection, with materials related to Latin America and the Caribbean having an especially large draw. Doctoral student Felipe Cruz visited the collection in 2012 from the University of Texas-Austin through the Pan Am Historical Foundation’s Abrams Banning Grant and was able to use materials ranging from maps to corporate records to complete his dissertation on the development of modern Brazil. The collection was also a research resource for the 2011 television series Pan Am.

Gibson says the fact that there’s public access to the archive already makes it unique. “Very few corporations release their records to the public, and the establishment of an archive of this company, which has made such a large global impact, has created an incredible opportunity for researchers of all kinds of topics related to the twentieth century, from World War II to the Beatles’ first U.S. tour to the very planes that made flights affordable to the general public.”

Over the course of the project Gibson, with the help of her student team, created a new online finding aid (search tool) pointing to the various areas of the collection. She also steered the content development of a mini-website for the collection, which was created by UM Libraries’ Digital Collections.


Grant winner Hadassah St. Hubert receives her award from former Pan Am station manager Al Topping.

UM doctoral student Hadassah St. Hubert began her research through the Abrams Banning Grant while Gibson’s project was approaching the finish line. She says the new finding aid helped her locate the materials that are now supporting her thesis about the push for Haiti’s rise as a tourist destination in the 1950s. “Since my project looks at the increasing role of tourism of Haiti, I analyze materials such as photographs, letters, advertisements, as well as government documents,” she said in a recent interview about her work. “My archival ‘jolt’ moment was when I discovered that Pan Am had increased its advertising of Haiti from less than $50,000 in the late 1940s to $1,000,000 by the mid-1950s. I had always heard that Haiti was a popular destination for U.S. tourists, including Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1970s. This evidence shows that Pan Am truly believed that Haiti could be a year-round resort for tourists and they invested heavily to make this happen.”

Favretto says the completion of the project will open the door for many others to use the collection. However, there is additional work remaining, including a large section of materials that still need to be cataloged and added to the finding aid. For the long term, Special Collections and Pan Am affiliates hope to retain the full-time support of a Pan Am archivist.

Since the grant ended, Gibson has been promoting the collection on Special Collections’ social media using the hashtag #PanAmAlive, which she says was inspired from talking to so many former Pan Am employees devoted to preserving the company’s legacy. Her involvement in the January 29 event, and working with the former flight attendants of World Wings International, Inc. who will be presenting the runway show, has only fueled her excitement for all things Pan Am. “Their enthusiasm for the history of the company is contagious,” she says. “People will be inspired to visit the collection themselves, which is an important part of keeping Pan Am ‘alive!’”

For more information about this event, or to RSVP, please contact or call 305-284-4026.