Script/Print/Code: the information revolution in one afternoon

Bodleian Library, Douce Woodblocks d.1, detail
Bodleian Library, Douce Woodblocks d.1, detail

On Monday 11 October 2021 in the Bodleian’s Weston Library for Special Collections there will be a race between The Oxford Scribes , the Bodleian Bibliographical Press, and the Centre for Digital Scholarship.

This webpage, script-print-code.info, tells the story.

This is a chance to compare script, print, and electronic text encoding side-by-side, in real time. The text will be written in manuscript, printed in movable type, and encoded by three teams, starting at 1pm.

In this blogpost we’ll report on the progress and the thoughts of the scribes, printers and encoders as they work through the same text, a portion of Psalm 107 (‘… They that go down to the sea in ships …’), to create a published version, in one or many copies.

Onlookers are welcome in Blackwell Hall, the main public foyer of the Weston Library on Broad Street, Oxford.

The event is in honour of the start of the Lyell Lectures 2021, The Genesis, Life, and Afterlife of the Gutenberg Bible, which will be given by Paul S. Needham, beginning on 11 October 2021. Details in the event listing include links to watch the livestream of these lectures. The lectures will be recorded and will be available a short time after the conclusion of the series, at https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/the-lyell-lectures

A webpage showing many digitized copies of the Gutenberg Bible, for comparison, is available here.

Here is the webpage for this event:

Musical premiere of ‘Clippings and Fragments,’ by Tom Coult, Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellow

Composer Tom Coult (Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellow, 2021) will see the premiere of his song cycle, ‘Clippings and Fragments,’ at the Oxford Lieder Festival on 18 October 2021.

Composer Tom Coult
Composer Tom Coult

The work was commissioned by the Festival for its 20th year, and draws upon the Bodleian Library’s John Johnson collection of printed ephemera. This rich and diverse assemblage of often-overlooked items is one of the largest and most important collections of printed ephemera in the world. It offers a fresh view of British history through documents which, produced for short-term use, have survived by chance, including advertisements, handbills, playbills and programmes, menus, greetings cards, posters and postcards.

The Lieder Festival ‘Nature’s Songbook,’ 8-23 October 2021, takes place both in person and online.  This will include a performance of ‘Clippings and Fragments’ by soprano Anna Dennis and speaker John Reid, a conversation with Tom Coult, and a film which looks into Coult’s creative process, and ephemera from the John Johnson collection.

A blogpost by Tom Coult outlines the commission.

Persian Arts of the Book conference, July 2021, reuniting Bodleian Bahari Fellows

In July 2021 the Bodleian Libraries hosted a virtual reunion of scholars who spoke about their research into the Persian collections of the Bodleian Libraries. Over the past five years, through the Bahari Fellowship programme, scholars have visited the library to examine texts, paper, paintings, bindings, and provenance of manuscripts now in the Bodleian collections. Their insights and conversations with distinguished panel chairs were shared with an online audience watching from around the world, on 13 and 14 July.

Papers delivered at the conference can be seen as podcasts at this link.

Download the full conference programme here.

A suite of films about the collections, from the point of view of curators, conservators, and researchers, is linked here .

Fellowship opportunities for research in Bodleian Special Collections can be seen from this webpage: https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/csb/fellowships 

Early Modern copper plates at the Bodleian Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries hold copper plates from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in several different collections.  These are listed along with the finding aids in the LibGuide Printing Surfaces.

Many of the earlier plates are survivals from publishing projects, whether realised or not. Others were collected or commissioned to depict objects of antiquarian study. Still others, in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, represent the process of printing, for instance, Copper plates for paper bags.

The Rawlinson collection of copper plates is the subject of a doctoral study by Chiara Betti, under the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme.

Engraved and etched copper plates owned by the London-based antiquarian collector Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) came to the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, with his bequest of a large collection of material, in 1755. The majority of these plates were gathered by Rawlinson second-hand from printers or other collectors, and thus date from the seventeenth, and first half of the eighteenth, century. These illustrate scenes and objects of antiquarian and topographical interest and many portraits. The plates include work by seventeenth-century engravers Wenceslaus Hollar [see the catalogue of Hollar’s work by Richard Pennington, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etched Work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677] and David Loggan. Another group of plates within this collection was made for Rawlinson himself, to depict unique objects in his own vast antiquarian collections. These collections included a large number of medieval and early modern manuscripts donated or bequeathed to several institutions including the Bodleian, as well as printed images, antique and exotic cultural objects, inscriptions, and seal matrices.
The copper plates thus sit within a much more extensive collection assembled by an eighteenth-century antiquarian, touching on areas of curatorial interest to libraries, museums, and archives. Surviving papers and notebooks of Richard Rawlinson are held at the British Library, the Bodleian Library, and at St John’s College, Oxford.

 

Shaping Scholarship: early donors to the Bodleian Library

This AHRC-funded project led by Robyn Adams (CELL, UCL), examines the network of individuals whose donations helped to build the collections of the library. Focusing on the first two decades following the seventeenth-century refurbishment by Sir Thomas Bodley (c.1600-1620) of Oxford’s university library, the study examines the shape of the collection of the books donated and purchased with funds, the social backgrounds of the c.220 donors, and how these men and women were connected across the social compass of the time.

Locating material for the material history of the book

Teaching with our Collections, at the Bodleian Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries contain a wealth of material that is relevant to the study of the book in every period. This is not only in book or manuscript form, although Bodleian Special Collections are frequently used for teaching at the Bodleian’s Weston Library for Special Collections. Many non-book items–eighteenth-century pins, samples of paper, newly-made parchment, old copper plates–exist within and outside the miles of bookstack. We will be undertaking a survey of this material in 2021-22, paying close attention to what is useful for the teaching the history of books and manuscripts in the broadest sense.

Throughout this year we expect to be looking into:

Centre for the Study of the Book | Bodleian Libraries (ox.ac.uk)

 

Events from the Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book, Autumn 2021

Ruskin School of Art student and researcher work, collage
Collage of work by Ruskin School of Art graduates and researchers

The webpages of the Centre for the Study of the Book contain information about academic engagement, scholarly events and fellowship opportunities in Bodleian Special Collections

Current season (Michaelmas Term, to December 2021)

Monday 11 October 2021
Script/Print/Code
The information revolution in one afternoon.
Members of the Oxford Scribes, the Bodleian Bibliographical Press, and Digital Scholarship@Oxford race to publish the same text using three different technologies
Weston Library, Blackwell Hall (public foyer), from 1 pm
Free, open to all.

Monday 11 October-Wednesday 20 October 2021
The Lyell Lectures 2020-21
Paul Needham (Princeton), ‘The Genesis, Life, and Afterlife of the Gutenberg Bible’
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library & online
All at 5 pm
Registration is required for in-person attendance. The lectures will also be livestreamed. See the event listing on the Bodleian’s Visit website.

Tuesday 19 October 2021
Lecture: Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen, ‘The Institutional Library and the History of Book Collecting: Fragility and Perseverance’
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library
5pm
Registration is required.
The Bodleian Library was one of the greatest libraries of the first age of print. In size and resilience it was exceptional. Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen look at the Bodleian’s founding in the wider context of an age where other institutional libraries struggled for survival, and university libraries were often smaller collections than those of university professors. Private collecting played an essential and underrated part in the development of library, right through to the trials and turbulence of the twentieth century – in which the Bodleian would again play a notable role.
Andrew Pettegree, FBA is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication including Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion, The Book in the Renaissance, The Invention of News, and Brand Luther: 1517, Print and the Making of the Reformation.
Arthur der Weduwen is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of St Andrews and Deputy Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He researches and writes on the history of the Dutch Republic, books, news, libraries and early modern politics. He is the author of Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century, The Bookshop of the World. Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age (co-authored with Andrew Pettegree) and two books on early newspaper advertising in the Netherlands.
The Library: A Fragile History, is published by Profile on 14 October.

Tuesday 2 November 2021
Multi-library seminar: Early Printing in Bamberg  Albrecht Pfister und die ältesten deutschsprachigen Drucke aus Bamberg / Albrecht Pfister and the earliest printed books in German from Bamberg.
A remote tour including Bamberg, Berlin, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, John Rylands Library Manchester, Oxford and Princeton
Prof. Dr. Bettina Wagner (Staatsbibliothek Bamberg)
Alyssa Steiner M.St. (Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg)
https://www.staatsbibliothek-bamberg.de/
Online, registration required. Register for e-mail announcements from the CSB to receive information.

Tuesday 30 November 2021 at 5.15 p.m.
Oxford Bibliographical Society/ Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book
‘What does feminist bibliography do?’
A panel discussion with Dr Sarah Werner, Dr Francesca Galligan and Dr Tiffany Stern
Online, registration required. Register: e-mail sarah.cusk@lincoln.ox.ac.uk

 

Looking ahead: Events for Winter 2022 (Hilary Term)

Palaeography Seminar: Medieval manuscripts master classes
(Details to follow)

Seminar in the History of the Book
(Details to follow)

Thursday & Friday, 17th & 18th February 2022
Workshop on the Murbach Hymns and Bodleian MS. Junius 25
In this workshop, the fascinating Murbach hymns – a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses from the 8/9th century – and their manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Junius 25) will be carefully examined regarding their translation technique, use and function, cultural background and transmission. Expect an afternoon full of presentations and discussions, a peek in the original manuscript and a live recitation of the hymns.
Registration required, updates to follow.
Convenor: Luise Morawetz (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)

Rare books and manuscripts ‘potluck’ online in 2021

Public and university libraries have faced the pandemic with a multitude of inventive new ways of connecting books and readers, such as ‘Grab and Go’ book deliveries limiting the time of physical visits. What about special collections libraries, whose materials cannot be taken out of the institution? Temporary closures or limited access to reading rooms have meant a pivot towards more provision of digital resources, and archivists and librarians have been active in unearthing treasures to share on social media.

The lockdown period has also been an opportunity to explore what can be done in new ways and even to push beyond the usual patterns of scholarly discourse. Online meeting platforms and visualizers (the modern version of that classroom standby, the overhead projector) lend themselves to the visual exploration and discussion of related items, collections, or genres of material held in institutions that are geographically distant.

Using this technology and adapting seminar formats to online presentation, at the Bodleian Libraries Centre for the Study of the Book we have found new opportunities to participate in cross-institutional events in 2021,  sharing collection material with other libraries via online platforms and learning from their expert staff and unique items. In the style of a potluck meal, each institution brings a copy or a witness to the online gathering which fills out the whole intellectual smörgåsbord.

29 Jan 2021 Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes [follow link for recording]
‘Translating, Singing, Printing the Reformation. The Queen’s College Sammelband with Myles Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes’, with a showing of The Queen’s College copy and the Bodleian and Beinecke Library fragments
(Oxford Seminar in the History of the Book)
Henrike Lähnemann, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Matthew Shaw, Librarian of The Queen’s College, Oxford
Sarah Wheale, Head of Rare Books at the Bodleian Libraries
Kathryn James,  Curator for Early Modern Books and Manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Library
See blogpost with downloadable foldable ‘fragments’ and links to facsimiles

1 Feb 2021 Medieval book coffers [follow link for recording]
Bodleian and John Rylands curators
‘Newly acquired medieval book coffers at the Bodleian and the John Rylands Libraries’
(Oxford Palaeography and Manuscripts Studies Seminar)
See the 3D image of the Bodleian coffer on Cabinet, here.

Coming up:

4 May Dante 1481: the Comedia, illustrated by Botticelli [follow link to register]
Bodleian Libraries; University College, London; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze; Morgan Library; British Library; John Rylands Library; Trinity College, Cambridge
(Bibliographical Society of America event and in conjunction with special series Dante 1321-2021: A Man For All Seasons)

22 June Yiddish and Russian Children’s Books [registration opens soon]
YIVO and Bodleian Libraries

And doubtless more to be added …

Retrospect of the Hilary Term 2021 Seminars in Palaeography, Manuscript Studies, and Book History

Adam Whittaker demonstrating the 'Guidonian Hand' in medieval music theory manuscripts
Adam Whittaker demonstrating the ‘Guidonian Hand’ as used in medieval music theory manuscripts, with Andrew Dunning (Bodleian)’s hand holding MS. Bodl. 515. Thanks to Henrike Laehnemann for the image.

Meetings of the two seminar series in Hilary Term 2021 took place in unusual circumstances. The seminars welcomed participants and speakers from around the world at online meetings. Bodleian manuscripts were shared ‘live’ online at all of the Palaeography seminars, and in each series one seminar session joined material from the Bodleian collections with items from other libraries.

It was possible to record some sessions; the presentations can be viewed from the links below, where indicated.

Seminar in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies
Convenors: Daniel Wakelin (English), Martin Kauffmann (Bodleian)

Week 1 (18 January)
Julian Luxford (University of St. Andrews)
The Tewkesbury benefactors’ book
Presentation recorded

Week 3 (1 February)
Bodleian and John Rylands curators: Libraries Together session
‘Newly acquired medieval book coffers at the Bodleian and the John Rylands Libraries’
Presentation recorded
See the 3D image of the Bodleian coffer on Cabinet, here.

Week 5 (15 February)
Adam Whittaker (Birmingham City University)
‘Medieval music theory in Bodleian manuscripts’
Presentation recorded

Week 7 (1 March)
Marc Smith (École des Chartes)
‘Late medieval writing models: contextualizing MS. Ashmole 789

 

Seminar in the History of the Book
Conveners: Cristina Dondi (Lincoln College, Oxford) and Alexandra Franklin (Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book)

Week 1 (22 January)
Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments, Westminster Abbey
‘Follow the Money: Wynkyn de Worde, Jacques Ferrebouc and the Bardi’
Presentation recorded

Week 2 (29 January) [Special session at 5 pm GMT]
Goostly Psalmes in Oxford and New Haven: Libraries Together session
Presentation recorded

See blogpost with downloadable foldable ‘fragments’ and links to facsimiles
‘Translating, Singing, Printing the Reformation. The Queen’s College Sammelband with Myles Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes’
with a showing of The Queen’s College copy and the Bodleian and Beinecke fragments
Henrike Lähnemann, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Matthew Shaw, Librarian of The Queen’s College, Oxford
Sarah Wheale, Head of Rare Books at the Bodleian Libraries
Kathryn James,  Curator for Early Modern Books and Manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Library

Week 3 (5 February)
Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli (University of Florence)
‘The Borromei’s trade unveiled: digging for information in fifteenth-century account-books’
Presentation recorded

Week 5 (19 February)
Alessandro Bianchi (Bodleian)
‘Hidden in plain sight. Printed books from the Japanese Mission Press in the Bodleian Collections’

Week 6 (26 February)
Kanupriya Dhingra (SOAS, University of London)
‘Streets and Serendipity: “Locating” Daryaganj Sunday Patri Kitab Bazaar’
Presentation recorded

Week 7 (5 March)
Benjamin Wardhaugh  (Oxford)
‘Hunting for readers in sixteenth-century editions of the works of Euclid’
In his talk, Dr Wardhaugh referred to the online resource hosted by The Bibliographical Society, ‘Euclid in Print

Week 8 (12 March)
William Stoneman (Cambridge, MA)
‘Buying Incunabula at Gimbel Brothers Department Store: A Curious Chapter in the History of American Book Collecting’
Presentation recorded

 

Seminar in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies, 2021

Seminar in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies
Convenors: Daniel Wakelin, Martin Kauffmann

Meetings will take place online via Zoom on Mondays at 2.15pm (GMT) in weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7. Original manuscripts will be shown. Registration is required. E-mail: bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk . Your message must be received by noon on the Friday before the seminar (or register for the whole series by noon, Friday 15 January).

Week 1 (18 January)
Julian Luxford (University of St. Andrews)
The Tewkesbury benefactors’ book

Week 3 (1 February)
Bodleian and John Rylands curators
Newly acquired medieval book coffers at the Bodleian and the John Rylands Libraries

Week 5 (15 February)
Adam Whittaker (Birmingham City University)
Medieval music theory in Bodleian manuscripts

Week 7 (1 March)
Marc Smith (École des chartes)
Late medieval writing models: contextualizing MS. Ashmole 789