Bonnie Mak

Bonnie Mak

Associate Professor

PhD, Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame

Other professional appointments

Affiliate Associate Professor, History
Associate Professor, Medieval Studies

Research focus

Manuscript, print, and digital cultures; the production and circulation of knowledge; history of visualization practices; manuscript studies; book history; history of science; medieval and early modern collecting; history of archives and libraries; information history; aesthetics of information.

Honors and Awards

  • List of Teachers Rated as Excellent, University of Illinois (2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2011, 2010).
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Humanities and Information; The Pennsylvania State University (2015-16)
  • Faculty Fellow, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; University of Illinois (2012-13)


"Living Systems: Designing Interfaces for Botanical Engagement,” University of Technology Sydney, co-PI (2019)

"The Classroom and the Future of the Historical Record: Humanities Education in a Changing Climate for Knowledge Production, "Humanities without Wall Consortium, collaborator (2018-2020)

Research Support Award, Office of the Vice-Chancellor of Research; University of Illinois (2012, 2010)


Bonnie Mak is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences and holds cross-appointments in History and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois. She teaches courses in the history and future of the book, and offers doctoral seminars on authenticity, reading practices, and knowledge production. Her first book, How the Page Matters (2011), examines the interface of the page as it is developed across time, geographies, and technologies. A second book-length project, Confessions of a 21st-Century Memsahib, explores the historical circumstances that shape the digital materials with which scholarship is increasingly conducted, and thereby examines the notions of data and information in the humanities.

Mak was named Senior Fellow of the Center for Humanities and Information at the Pennsylvania State University in 2015, and Faculty Fellow of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities in 2012. She has been the recipient of grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Newberry Consortium for Renaissance Studies, and the Huntington Library. Before joining the University of Illinois, Mak was Post-Doctoral Fellow of the InterPARES Project on the preservation of digital records at the University of British Columbia, and SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow of the Faculty of Information and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.

Office hours

On leave.

Publications & Papers

"In Wood and Word, or, A Gloss on Documents and Documentation in the Humanities." In Law's Documents: Materiality, Authority, Aesthetics, edited by Katherine Biber and Trish Luker. London: Routledge, accepted & forthcoming.

"Manuscript." In Cambridge Critical Concepts: Literature and Technology, edited by Adam Hammond. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, accepted & forthcoming.

"Wood Libraries: Knowing with Wood and Word." The Caxtonian, 29.3 (May/June 2021): 1–3.

"The Campus After COVID-19." Public Seminar (4 March 2021). With Hallam Stevens.

"Research Box: Making Visible the Infrastructures of Knowledge." In Boxes in Action: A Field Guide, edited by Susanne Bauer, Martina Schlünder, and Maria Rentetzi, 606–624. Manchester, UK: Mattering Press, 2020. With Julia Pollack. 

"Cataloging." In Transmissions: Critical Tactics for Making and Communicating Research, edited by Kat Jungnickel, 228–238. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020. With Julia Pollack.

"Period, Theme, Event: Locating Information History in History." In Information and Power in History. Towards a Global Approach, edited by Ida Nijenhuis, Marijke van Faasen, Joris Gijsenbergh, Wim de Jong, and Ronald Sluijter, 18–36. London: Routledge, 2020. With Alistair Black.

"Everyday Description Safety in the Museum." Fwd: Museums—Special Issue on “Death to Museums” 4 (2019): 175–182. With Julia Pollack.

Engaging with Archives and Records: Histories & Theoriesco-edited with Fiorella Foscarini, Heather MacNeil, and Gillian Oliver. London: Facet Publishing, 2016. 

"On the Design of the Humanities." interactions 23.4 (July/August 2016): 76–79. With Julia Pollack. doi: 10.1145/2945291

"Review of Thomas A. Bredehoft, The Visible Text: Textual Production and Reproduction from Beowulf to Maus." Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 115.3 (July 2016): 398–401.

"Archaeology of a Digitization." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 65.8 (August 2014): 1515–1526. doi: 10.1002/asi.23061

"Book Unbound: An Exploration of the Material Forms of the Codex and E-book." Book 2.0 3.2 (December 2013): 137–147. With Julia Pollack. doi: 10.1386/btwo.3.2.137_1. Reprinted in The Open Book Project, ed. Leslie Atzmon, 53–67. Eastern Michigan University Art Galleries, Ypsilanti, Mich.: 2014.

"The Performance and Practice of Research in 'A Cabinet of Curiosity: the Library’s Dead Time'." Art Documentation 32.2 (Fall 2013): 202–221. With Julia Pollack. doi: 10.1086/673513

"On the Uses of Authenticity." Archivaria 73 (Spring 2012): 1–17.

How the Page Matters. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011. Pbk in 2012.

"Constructions of Authenticity." Library Trends 56.1 (Summer 2007): 26–52. With Heather MacNeil.


"Data Visualization Before There Was Data. Or Visualization," The Caxton Club of Chicago (October 2020).

"Scholarship and its Formats: Documenting the Humanities," Literature and its Formats; University of Copenhagen (November 2019).

"A Sensorial Document of Scholarship," What is a Document? A Workshop on Documentation, Records and Evidence; University Technology Sydney (November 2018).

"Data Histories," The Classroom and the Future of the Historical Record: A Symposium; University of Illinois (May 2018). With Dan Liu.

"Ways of Seeing and Knowing: Metadata in Context,” iConference; Sheffield (March 2018).

“Publication, Post-Codex," Symposium of the Ohio Preservation Council, The Codex — History, Art, and Practice; Columbus, Ohio (August 2017).

"Period, Theme and Event: Pedagogical Keys to Understanding the Place of Power Relations in the History of Information," Information and Power; Amsterdam (March 2017). With Alistair Black.  

"On Interdisciplinary Endings," MLA; Philadelphia (January 2017).

"Metadata and the Production of Knowledge," SHARP; Paris (July 2016).

"Information's Allure," Charisma of the Book: Global Perspectives for the 21st Century, New York University–Abu Dhabi (March 2016).

"Writing in Wood and Word," Textual Studies Program Distinguished Speaker Series, University of Washington (February 2016).

"Confessions of a 21st-Century Memsahib: The Offshore Sweatshops of the Digital Humanities," MLA; Austin, Texas (January 2016). 

"Digital Archive as Text," Diasporic Literary Archives Project, Yale University (October 2014).

"Time Suspended," Yale Program in the History of the Book, Yale University (September 2014).


Donna Haraway is our "Friend": Reconfiguring Friendship Bracelets and Bibliography. Centre de Convencions Internacional. Barcelona (August 31–September 3, 2016). With Julia Pollack.

A Librarian Makes a Box. Exhibition. Kavala Municipal Tobacco Museum, Kavala, Greece (July 26–29, 2012). With Julia Pollack.

A Cabinet of Curiosity: The Library's Dead Time. Exhibition. Figure One, Champaign, Illinois (February 17–18, 2012). With Julia Pollack.