2011-12 Fellows at the Centre for the Study of the Book

The CSB hosted four short-term Visiting Fellows in 2011-12

Dr Susan Nalezyty, Renaissance Society of America/Bodleian Library Research Grant, 2012

My month-long residency at the Bodleian Library was a productive one, both for discovering important research findings and for making professional connections in and outside my field of art history I spent the month of June 2012 in Oxford transcribing and translating letters addressed to Pietro Bembo for my current book project, Pietro Bembo as Art Collector. Especially due to the library’s generous hours and excellent cataloguing of the collection, I was able to find two other important pieces of evidence in rare, early printed books, one related to the dispersal of Cardinal Bembo’s collection, and the other an oration by one of Bembo’s colleagues that lends insight into Bembo’s personality and collecting habits. Both of these books could not have been found in the United States (according to WorldCat), and this underscores the valuable experience this grant afforded me and my project.

Dr Louisiane Ferlier (Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7) Humfrey Wanley Visiting Fellowship, 2012

Studying how, where and why anti-quaker volumes were incorporated into the Bodleian Library collections revealed the library’s participation in the shaping of opinion in the first decades of the eighteenth century. The research I pursued using Library Records [the Register of Donations, 1692-1710; and A Catalogue of Books sent to the Library, Library Records b.158], and manuscript notes in bound copies of pamphlets donated to the library, including two given by John Wallis (1616-1793) [4o Th A 83 and 8o Th F 95, volumes of George Keith’s pamphlets compiled by Wallis] illuminates how book circulation and preservation was used to curb dissenting religions — quakerism in particular — in the university town.

Dr Eliza O’Brien (Newcastle University) British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies/Bodleian Libraries Fellowship, 2012

In the Abinger Collection I began by consulting Godwin’s reading notes, writing notes, philosophical notes, draft advertisements, autobiographical notes, and book proposals, moving on to read more widely across the letters and biographical fragments contained within the collection.  I found that the reading and writing notes contained many interesting statements from Godwin indicating his opinions towards literature, the reading public, and life as both a reader and an author.  The most exciting material dealt with Godwin’s records of criticism he received from reviewers, friends and fellow-writers relating to his work, particularly the detailed responses offered by Thomas Holcroft on Caleb Williams and St Leon. 

Dr Efstathios Arapostathis (University of Athens), Douglas Byrne Marconi Lecturer

Dr Arapostathis delivered the 2012 Douglas Byrne Marconi Lecture in the Museum of the History of Science on Friday 11 May. His theme, “Owning and disowning wireless,” addressed the history of intellectual property at the turn of the 20th century, and was based on his research conducted during a residence in Oxford and examination of the Marconi Archive and Collection at the Bodleian Library and Museum of the History of Science.

Professor Jim Bennett, director, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, with Dr Arapostathis on the occasion of the 2012 Douglas Byrne Marconi Lecture, at the Museum

Patenting his inventions was an important foundation of Marconi’s business success, notably the award of the patent number 7777, for separating signals through tuning, allowing simultaneous transmission on different frequencies — a patent which however inspired a lawsuit against Marconi.

Dr Arapostathis’s lecture examined the gap between the understanding of judges and the technical descriptions supplied by inventors.

In 2013, Dr Gabriele Balbi, the 2012 Douglas Byrne Marconi Fellow, will deliver the Douglas Byrne Marconi Lecture on the topic of his research into the transition from one-to-one transmission to the idea of broadcasting as a business aim of the Marconi Corporation.

Apply for the 2013 visiting fellowships by visiting the Centre’s webpage at:


The Art of Science: The Rediscovery of the Lister Copperplates

(Lecture, 19 September 2012)

Anna Marie Roos, author of “Web of nature: Martin Lister 1639-1712), the first arachnologist”  introduced the copperplates, shells, drawing and printed pictures in the Bodleian Library’s temporary display of material from the library and personal papers of Martin Lister (1639-1712).

This display took advantage of Lister’s bequest to the University of Oxford of over 1000 copper plates made to illustrate his great work on conchology — the study of molluscs — printed privately during the 1680s and 1690s. The original copper plates, from which the printed illustrations were made, are now kept in the Bodleian Library, Department of Special Collections.

Lister’s own attention to the classification and dissection of molluscs made this a widely respected work which, much later, Charles Darwin still consulted. The success was not Martin Lister’s alone, for the illustrations were made by his daughters, who drew the shells and dissected specimens and engraved the copper plates for this work, an example of women’s contribution to scientific knowledge during the age of the scientific revolution.

The pattern of Lister’s correspondence, some of which is also in the Bodleian Library, is shown here in the beta version of “Early Modern Letters Online”


Illustrating 17th-century science: the Lister Sisters

Part of the display showing the complete process: from shell to sketchbook to engraved plate to printed illustration.

The Bodleian Library is displaying drawings, prints and the original copperplates used to print the engraved illustrations for Martin Lister’s 17th-century study of conchology. Assembled by Dr Anna Marie Roos (History Faculty, University of Oxford) these items tell the story of how two teenagers, Susanna and Anna Lister, worked to produce detailed illustrations of shells and dissected molluscs for their father’s publication. Dr Roos has written about the copperplates in The Conveyor, and about her rediscovery of the plates in Notes and Records of the Royal Society (66:1, March 2012). An article in Nature online displays a slideshow of some of the copperplates and drawings and prints held in the Bodleian and at the Linnean Society and the Royal Society.

Dr Roos will talk about ‘The Art of Science: The Rediscovery of the Lister Copperplates’ on Wednesday, 19 September 2012, in the Convocation House, Bodleian Library. The lecture is free, but booking is recommended.

The display continues in the entrance to the Old Library until 30 September 2012.

Bodleian CSB Summer School, July 2012: “Bibliography and the study of paper”

from Alexandra Franklin, Bodleian Libraries Centre for the Study of the Book

This course combined practical and historical studies of paper as it related to all aspects of book and manuscript production in the hand-press period. The principal lecturers, Mark Bland (DeMontfort University) and Andrew Honey (Bodleian Libraries Conservation and Collection Care), described the techniques for examining and recording the evidence of watermarks, chain lines, and the quiring of sheets.

Students looked at examples of paper moulds and learned to be archaeologists of paper in books, detecting the original size of the paper sheets from the bound and trimmed volumes. Guest lecturers highlighted the ways that paper could be used as material evidence, whether examining the state of mind of Jane Austen as she embarked on the writing of a novel, to finding clues of re-writing in Handel’s music manuscripts, to understanding the origins of 15th-century blockbooks.

Some of the questions that arose were,
“Is paper flat?” – Answer: not after printing in the hand-press, and Nicholas Pickwoad offered the view of paper from the perspective of a binding historian, explaining how binders dealt with this problem, as well as showing how different types of paper were used in the binding of books.

“Does this leaf exist?” – Lecturers demonstrated how to establish if pages have been removed or replaced, with an especially illuminating presentation from Donald Burrows on the music manuscripts of Handel.

“How does paper convey meaning?” – Answer: not only as a support for writing, but also through its own quality (fine Italian paper indicating high-status use in early-modern England) and quantity (Kathryn Sutherland remarked on Jane Austen’s use of notebooks with increasing numbers of pages, suggesting that Austen’s confidence as a novelist was growing proportionately).

Friday afternoon was a practical session, with students engaged in measuring paper and deducing the format of early printed books and manuscripts from the Bodleian Special Collections. Armed with clear plastic rulers and small LED flashlights, they measured chain lines, found the “mould” side and “felt” side of the paper, and drew watermarks. A calculator helped, when multiplying page dimensions for determining the size of the sheet.

This week-long course (Monday to Friday) was the first Summer School offered by the CSB. Paper moulds and samples were kindly loaned by the Chantry Library and by the Bodleian’s Bibliography Room. A book loaned by Jesus College, Oxford, provided an example of a English laced-case paper binding from the 17th century. The guest lecturers were Ian Maclean, Kathryn Sutherland, Jane Eagan, Nicholas Pickwoad, Nigel Palmer, and Donald Burrows.