A record: 140 pounds of books and two birds in a box


Glen Worthey and Chris Bourg discuss the topic of the day: books. (Credit: L.A. Cicero)

The Stanford Humanities Center held its annual “book celebration” on Tuesday, toting up the numbers for scholarly output.

The total take for humanities the last year was 114 physical books (and the laminated covers of two books that were unable to join the gathering), 9 binders of sheet music representing one digital publication of the 9 symphonies of Beethoven, 2 music CDs, 1 movie, 1 video weblink, 1 link to the Nine Symphonies of Beethoven (which is the same as the 9 binders of sheet music), 1 folder of playbills, and other material related to over 50 productions of a Mark Twain play (including one play in Romanian, video included), 1 scroll, and 1 box with two birds.
The total weight of all of this material (excluding the birds in the box) was a record 140 pounds. The total number of pages is a whopping 41,345. And this of course doesn’t count the hours of musical and video material – or the scroll and the birds in the box…

Last year’s total was 70 books, weighing  78.25 pounds and including 20,883 pages. So this is nearly an 80 percent increase in weight – and a 98 percent increase in pages. However, if you correct (as the economists say) for Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s 29 volume edition of the works of Mark Twain – the numbers adjust to 113 pounds and 29,314 pages — an increase of only 44 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Stanford President John Hennessy was unpleasantly buoyed by the “incredibly prolific year,” nothing that “the humanities are truly extraordinary”:  “When the income goes down, the output goes up,” he crowed. After a little scholarly coughing around the room (much of it inaudible), German music scholar Stephen Hinton finally offered that “some of the projects may have been started in fatter times.”

In the spirit of university cost-cutting, the variety show style entertainment was “outsourced” to drama students, who had created to two sparky little songs on the perils of a life dedicated to the humanities.


Derek Miller, right, and Mason Flink on piano entertain the crowd with songs lampooning the humanities as subject and profession at the humanities hoedown. Local luminaries were on hand: That's author Marilyn Yalom in the red coat, Aron Rodrigue next to her, Matthew Tiews behind them. John Hennessy is over Aron's shoulder, Stephen Hinton, next to him, looks unamused in a gold-colored shirt. Charles Junkerman listens as he quaffs his chardonnay. Joseph Frank, author of the acclaimed 5-volume Dostoevsky series, sits with his walker; wife Marguerite whispers to him. Dagmar Logie also keeps him company. John Felstiner, author of "Can Poetry Save the Earth?" stands in the doorway. (Credit: L.A. Cicero)

One Response to “A record: 140 pounds of books and two birds in a box”

  1. Beethoven Sheet Music Says:

    A record: 140 pounds of books and two birds in a box? Seriously? I was searching Google for beethoven sheet music and found this… will have to think about it.