A scholar is just a library's way of making another library.

I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. Books are unconvertible assets, to be passed on only to those who possess them already.

Anthony Powell, The Valley of Bones, in A Dance to the Music of Time

"I wonder if I might call your attention to an observation of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said: 'Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web'."
I breathed a bit stertorously.
"He said that, did he?"
"Yes, sir."
"Well, you can tell him from me he's an ass."

P. G. Wodehouse, The Mating Game (1949), chap. 4

Traister began to make this page -- http://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister -- on 5 August 1995. He last modified it on 19 August 2009 (another day, another edit). Text-heavy, static, and as graphic as the broad side of a barn, the site is complicatedly organized to suit Traister; and -- yuck -- it scrolls. For starters, here is a basic guide to searching the web.

Or -- since Netscape does this correctly, but Internet Explorer does not -- see,
for the correct time . . .
Here is a current monthly calendar.

TRAISTER'S BASIC LINKS INCLUDE: Penn's Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, University of Pennsylvania, a poll-based 2008 electoral college map, for the terminally nervous, Arts at Penn, Lehigh University, AP Online, The New York Times, Philadelphia newspapers online, Arts & Letters Daily, Salon (and one Salon reporter), Slate, Abu Muqawama (contemporary insurgencies), Abington Township Public Library, Absolutearts.com, Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise, The Art Newspaper.com, Arts Journal, The Becker-Posner Blog, Blue Ear, Broad Street Review, Common Dreams, Critical Mass: the blog of the national book critics circle board of directors, Edge, The Edge of the American West, For Better or for Worse, Forward, Identity Theory, InsideHigherEd.com, The Maine Times, Media Matters, Mediachannel.org, Le Monde, for fun and joy, NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day and WorldWide Telescope, The New Yorker, Online Journalism Review, Philly Fun Guide, Poetry Daily, Shola Olunloyo, signandsight.com, TLS, Words Without Borders: The Online Magazine for International Literature, The World Factbook (CIA), Voice of the Shuttle, Philadelphia weather (National Weather Service)), Philadelphia weather (The New York Times), New York weather, Washington weather, Houlton, Maine, weather, Miami weather, Los Angeles weather, San Juan, Puerto Rico London weather, Oxford weather, Cambridge weather, Stratford-upon-Avon weather, Edinburgh weather, Paris weather, Amsterdam weather, Brussels weather, Frankfurt weather, Munich weather, Berlin weather, Vienna weather, Prague weather, Budapest weather, St. Petersburg weather, Moscow weather, Florence weather, Venice weather, a general weather site and another general weather site, JASNA:Jane Austen Society of North America and its local chapter, The New-York Historical Society and The Museum of the City of New York, The Maine Historical Society and Maine Memory Network, Amtrak, SEPTA, New Jersey Transit, Philadelphia International Airport, US 309 traffic and construction, general Philadelphia-area traffic reports, E-ZPass: Regional Consortium Service Center, Workshop in the History of Material Texts (Penn), The Book in America: Economic Aspects of the Material Text, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Penn Humanities Forum, Med/Ren at Penn, Penn Libraries Medieval Collections, Kelly Writers House, Jack Lynch's Home Page, Traister's photo album, another photo album (password required), Library staffweb, Library blog, RBM blog, MeetingMaker, email, U@Penn, guide to computer virus and other email hoaxes, and The MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet -- and, for classical music, e.g.,



Temporary links include:

A secondary home page exists only to make Traister findable for those who look him up via Penn's Library.

  2. Traister is Curator, Research Services, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library (6th floor); English-language literature bibliographer, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 3420 Walnut Street; and an adjunct instructor in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6206.

    Penn -- of which you can see a somewhat older view than currently characterizes the place here -- maintains, inter alia, several useful sites:

    1. The Daily Pennsylvanian
    2. The Almanac
    3. The Pennsylvania Gazette
    4. the University Library
    5. Kelly Writers House
    6. Penn Humanities Forum
    7. Penn Calendars
    8. Penn English Department calendar
    9. Online University Directory
    10. Benefits

    SAS students, their parents, advisors, and faculty will find at least some of these sites useful:

    1. Advisor InTouch
    2. resources for academic advisors
    3. The College at Penn
    4. a site for incoming first-year students
    5. New Student Orientation
    6. a guide to course selection
    7. first-year seminars and writing seminars
    8. Course register
    9. Course timetables
    10. information about AP credits
    11. majors and programs and minors
    12. Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses
    13. foreign language requirements and foreign language placement exams
    14. Career Services
    15. Various forms of help for students can be found at
    16. an overview of requirements, together with degree requirements for the class of 2010 and later and degree requirements for the class of 2009 and earlier
    17. For major selection and other degree decisions, see
    18. the Academic Blog (this is the site advisors enter; NOTE that advisors cannot enter the student blog site except to read the blogs of their own advisees)
    19. the College course scanner [which seems these days to be offline -- 15 June 2009]
    20. a registration tutorial aimed at first-year students
    21. a guide to study abroad options
    22. an overall guide for incoming first-year students; see especially The Curriculum
    23. a site where Penn faculty can check course enrollments
    24. a general guide for College faculty
    25. a general guide (with additional links) for parents
    26. once again,

    Traister teaches courses on English and American literature and on the history of books and printing for Penn's Department of English, General Honors program, and College of General Studies. During the fall semester of 2008, he is teaching a class entitled Confronting Deity: Religious Dramas. Peter Nichols's article about a course Traister co-taught during the spring semester of 1999 appeared in the July 1999 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn's alumni magazine. Another of Peter Nichols' articles, about a different course, appeared in the Winter 2001 issue of Colby. (More recently, The Pennsylvania Gazette has written about an unusual book that came to Penn as a gift with which Traister was involved.)

    Traister also works with the Penn Reading Project, which is concentrating this year (2008) on Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish. He is an undergraduate student advisor. He has taught non-credit courses (on book history, pedagogy, and rare book librarianship) at the Rare Book School run by the Book Arts Press at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. An essay on the nature of the place can be found here; another is here. Very occasionally -- although, in fact, not for a long time -- he has taught non-credit courses on book collecting for Penn's CGS. Now and again, he works on Library exhibitions.

    During the fall of 1999, Traister led an online course for alumni, Re-Reading Shakespeare. The Pennsylvania Gazette reported on the program of which this class was a part in its November-December 1999 issue. During the spring of 2000, he also participated as a discussion leader in Penn's Kelly Writers House Virtual Book Groups program. His session considered Bernhard Schlink's novel, Der Vorleser (The Reader). He led another discussion group in the spring of 2004 -- its members discussed Amanda Craig's recent novel, In a Dark Wood; and, in the spring of 2005, he led a discussion of the poetry of John Donne. In the fall of 2000, he participated in a seminar (co-sponsored by RAND and Nanyang Technological University) called New Paradigms and Parallels: The Printing Press and the Internet (October 5-6, Santa Monica, CA).

    Between 1998 and 2003, Traister worked with pre-matriculants from the Classes of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 in an experimental project described by both The Pennsylvania Gazette and The New York Times. Intended to introduce incoming students to at least some of what Penn is all about, the program garnered enthusiastic comments from the then-University President Judith Rodin, as well as, and more importantly, from students who have participated in it; but the program has foundered, running up against the problems of time investment it asks of group leaders.

    Here are some of Traister's past syllabi.

    Seminars: among several ongoing Penn seminars or seminar-sponsoring organization worth following are:

    As the Library's English-language literature bibliographer, Traister hopes you will contact him if you know of a book, a journal, or anything else in the field of English-language literature that you think Penn's Library ought to acquire but has not, or needs in additional or replacement copies. If you include your own name and address, Traister can report back to you about your suggestions. His work telephone is 215 898 7088; his work telefax is 215 573 9079; his e-mail address is above (at "contact him") and almost immediately below ("You can write Traister, etc.").

    See also the extremely amusing [!] site from Jen Wolf about librarianship and its romance (click on "Career Romances").

    Traister is currently Program Chair for The Philobiblon Club, a Philadelphia area book collectors' and bibliophilic club.

    He also works with Penn's long-standing Monday-afternoon seminar, the Workshop in the History of the Book.

    You can write Traister at traister@pobox.upenn.edu.

    Sometimes Traister is growing a beard; sometimes he is beardless; sometimes he is bearded.
    He is, however, always bald.
    See Hucbald's Ecloga de calvis, trans. Thomas Klein, on this subject.
    (Thank you, Jared Danziger!)

    Bearded Traister speaking at The
    Philobiblon Club on chilly 13.II.96.
    (Photographer: WENDY WILSON.)
    Beardless Traister in his Jim O'Donnell pose
    atop Death Valley National Park's volcano
    crater Ubehebe on warm 15.III.97
    ("Ibehebe climbs Ubehebe").

    Currently, Traister is beardless.

  4. Traister attended nursery school in the cooperative apartment buildings built by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America just south of Van Cortlandt Park. (Here is a little bit about the history of the Amalgamated Houses.) Nora Linn was among his first teachers there. He later attended Public School 95, where his teachers included Miss Laflin (K), Mrs. McCloskey (1) -- who taught him to read, Mrs. Bogart (2), Ms. Hampson (3), Mrs. Stammer (4), Mrs. Heller (5), and Mrs. Berger (6). (Mrs. McCloskey and Mrs. Bogart could once upon a time be seen -- in 1933, long before Traister was their student or even born -- in this photograph, which has apparently disappeared from the web. Here is Miss Laflin, long after Traister was her student, seen in 1962. Other photographs used to be located here -- P.S.95, here -- elementary schools generally, here -- junior high schools generally, and here -- high schools generally.) He graduated from Junior High School 80 and The Bronx High School of Science. All of these places are located in The Bronx (here is another Bronx site).

    At Colby College (where the alumni magazine is called, oddly enough, Colby), he was lucky enough to study English literature under the eye (monitory then; monitory now) of R. Mark Benbow. He received additional degrees in English literature at New York University, concentrating on Renaissance English literature. His dissertation (Richard C. Harrier, director) discusses a sixteenth-century sonnet sequence, Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella. (His experience prompts him to offer later generations of graduate students this important advice about thesis writing, as well as this sad tale about graduate student life.) At Columbia University's (now cleverly non-existent) School of Library Service, he concentrated on rare book and manuscript librarianship, studying with Terry Belanger, Susan O. Thompson, and others. Before coming to Penn, he worked, inter alia, at the library of Lehigh University and in the Rare Book Division (as it was then called) of The New York Public Library.

    Geoffrey Whitney, A choice of emblemes . . . (Leiden: Christopher Plantin, 1586), sig. E1r [p. 38],
    a gift to Traister from Francis O. Mattson.

    Traister writes about literature, bibliography, history, rare book librarianship, and library collection development. For several years, he co-edited BiN: Bibliography Newsletter with cranky, idiosyncratic, and withal admirable Terry Belanger (his cranky, idiosyncratic, and withal admirable teacher at Columbia and the force behind Rare Book School). He was also book review editor and a reviewer-columnist for American Book Collector.

    His full résumé will interest few and excite none.


    1. Traister is a native of God's Country. Jim O'Donnell may ask "Which God?" -- but surely there can be no doubt, right?

    2. Despite working with them, Traister is enthusiastic about books. For years he has urged specific titles upon anyone patient enough to listen to him. As a tribute to this mild eccentricity, and because fewer and fewer people listened to him all the time, he used to write up his current touts and saved ("archived," in Computer Newspeak) his older non-current touts, hoping to convince people to read books that do not normally appear on genteel (on account of they is gentile?) syllabi. A Consumer Advisory: Traister likes garbage. Alas -- or, perhaps, fortunately -- Traister has had less time to indulge this pathology for quite some years now.

    3. Relatedly, Traister makes available here some short poems that he hopes you will enjoy:.

    4. Since his enthusiasms in other media are far less eccentric, it must be mere chutzpah that permits him to list some of his favorite films. ("Go see more films!" a viewer of this list has urged Traister.)

    5. Traister likes chocolate specifically and food generally.

    6. For a variety of reasons, Traister is interested in writers such as Sir Philip Sidney, Jane Austen, and Anthony Powell (21 December 1905 - 28 March 2000); Germantown Friends School (in Philadelphia), Columbia University (and Columbia's seminars), the Community College of Philadelphia, Lehigh University, New York University, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), and the University of Edinburgh; the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, law firm of Raab & Raab; the town of Houlton, Maine; the Philadelphia-based firm of Remer & Talbott, consultants to museums, historic sites, libraries and other non-profit institutions; Salon.com; The Wire; and The Civilians.

    7. The congenitally masochistic may be interested in some of his in-progress papers, here in various stages of drafty undress.

  6. Traister's links go to resources that interest him. This may or may not be a good reason for what you find here. It is his.

    His BASIC LINK is that to Penn's library. Also basic is the Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, use of which requires a valid Penn i.d. New users may find that Traister's OED quiz provides some guidance to use of this online dictionary. See also the Oxford English Dictionary Newsletter. The Britannica Online, like all encyclopedias, should be consulted only with extreme suspiciousness. Like OED, its use requires a valid Penn i.d. Suspicion is also recommended for those who consult The New York Times. Traister's other web resources are loosely organized into four broad categories.

    Return to the top of this page or to humanities, science, entertainment, or miscellaneous resources.

    Jack Lynch used to call this part of his page his "Everyone loves me" site:

    Web awards

    Modest fellow, Jack has now buried this stuff unfindably somewhere or other on his site.
    More everyones love him than love me, of course . . .

    You can send Traister e-mail concerning this page at traister@pobox.upenn.edu.

    Return to Daniel Traister's Home Page.