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Bonnie Mak

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230 iSchool
Associate Professor


Bonnie Mak is a historian of ancient, medieval, and modern information practices. She is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois and holds courtesy appointments in History and Medieval Studies.

Before joining the University of Illinois, Bonnie Mak was Postdoctoral Fellow of the InterPARES Project on the preservation of digital records at the University of British Columbia, and SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow of the Faculty of Information and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctorate in Medieval Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Mak 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. She was appointed the inaugural Visiting Scholar of the Coach House Institute, University of Toronto for AY2007/08, and inaugural Senior Visiting Fellow of the Center for Humanities and Information at The Pennsylvania State University for AY2015/16.

Her book, How the Page Matters (University of Toronto Press, 2011), examines the page as a dynamic interface in scrolls, tablets, books, and screens from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. Mak's chapbook, Reproducing by Fragments, is forthcoming from Yale University Press in collaboration with the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the latter of which will house her associated "archive" of handmade fragments. She is at work on her next project, Information by Design.

Research Interests

  • manuscript studies & book history
  • production & circulation of knowledge
  • history of information practices


  • PhD in Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame (advisors: Kathleen Biddick & Calvin M. Bower)
  • MA in Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • BAH in Medieval Studies, concentration in Philosophy, Queen's University at Kingston


  • "Diversifying the Narratives of Graphic Design History," NEH Spotlight on Humanities in Higher Education, key personnel (2023–25).
  • "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 Walls Consortium, collaborator (201820).

Awards and Honors

  • List of Teachers Rated as Excellent; University of Illinois (8x).
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Humanities and Information; The Pennsylvania State University (201516)
  • Faculty Fellow, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; University of Illinois (201213)

Courses Taught

  • History & Foundations of Information Science, on major concepts in IS, including measurement, trust, and explainability in AI
  • History of the Book, on the expression and visualization of information in the book and beyond
  • Information History, a cultural history of information practices, including collection, description, classification, and transmission
  • Medieval Manuscripts & Early Modern Books
  • Thinking + Doing: Making Knowledge Infrastructures Visible (with Jodi Schneider)
  • History of Readers (with Kate McDowell)

Additional Campus Affiliations

  • Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences
  • Associate Professor, Program in Medieval Studies

Recent Publications

Books & Chapbooks

Reproducing by Fragments. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, submitted in Fall 2021. By special commission.

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

Edited Volumes

The Routledge Handbook in Information History. Co-edited with Toni Weller, Alistair Black, and Laura Skouvig. Under contract.

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

Invited Chapters

"Manuscript." In Cambridge Critical Concepts: Technology and Literature, edited by Adam Hammond, 45–68. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2023. Publisher's website.

"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, Trish Luker, and Priya Vaughan, 26–48. London: Routledge, 2022. Publisher's website.

"Research Box." 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. Website.

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

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


"What Is Information History?" Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society 114, no. 4 (December 2023): 747–768. With Allen H. Renear.

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

"Archaeology of a Digitization." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 65.8 (August 2014): 1515–1526. Chinese translation in the Journal for Digital Humanities (Beijing) 2 (2020): 11–30.

"Book Unbound: An Exploration of the Material Form of Books and E-books." Book 2.0 3.2 (December 2013): 137–147. Reprinted in Open Book, edited by Leslie Atzmon, 53–67. Ypsilanti, Mich.: Eastern Michigan University Art Galleries, 2014. With Julia Pollack.

"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.

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

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


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.

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

"A Cabinet of Curiosity: The Library’s Dead Time." Exhibition. Figure One Gallery (Champaign, 2012). With Julia Pollack.


"Review of Working with Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge edited by Carla Bittel, Elaine Leong, and Christine von Oertzen.” Technology and Culture 64, no. 1 (January 2023): 261–2.

"Presentational Markup: What's Going On?" In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2021. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies 26 (2021). With Allen H. Renear.

"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.