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)

 

Lectures and seminars from the Special Collections of the Bodleian Libraries

Palaeography, Bibliography, History of the Book

Monday 25 April 2022
CONFERENCE
The Book at the Bodleian: Whence, Where, Whither?
11am–6pm (BST)
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library and also streamed live
Free, booking required to attend in person or watch online.
Link to registration
For twenty years, the Lyell benefaction has funded a career development fellowship that has enabled scholars to study subjects that have included the History of the Book, bibliography and palaeography. For “The Book at the Bodleian”, these nine Lyell Fellows come together for the first time to reflect on developments in their respective fields and present their current research.
Speakers: Niels Gaul, Georgi Parpulov, David Rundle, Irene Ceccherini, Barbara Bombi, Cristina Dondi, Jason McElligott, Giles Bergel, Stewart Brookes

Tuesday 26 April 2022
LECTURE
Professor Marc Smith (École Nationale des Chartes and Lyell Reader in Bibliography, 2019-20)
From Round Hand to l’Anglaise: 18th century English handwriting and the Continent.
Conclusion of the Lyell Lectures, 2020
5pm–6pm (BST)
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library and also streamed live
Free, booking required
https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/apr22/marc-smith-lecture

Begins Tuesday 3 May 2022
LECTURE SERIES
The Lyell Lectures 2022
Professor Susan Rankin (University of Cambridge and Lyell Reader in Bibliography, 2021-22), ‘From Memory to Written Record: English Liturgical Books and Musical Notations, 900–1150’
3, 5, 10, 12 and 17 May 2022
Free, booking required
https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/the-lyell-lectures-2022

Book Arts

20 April 2022
BOOK ARTS ONLINE
Beyond the Pale
An exploration of black shapes on book pages begins with author and curator Andrew Spira in conversation with book historian Gill Partington.
20 April, 5.30–6.30pm (BST)
Online
Registration (to receive a Zoom link): https://forms.office.com/r/Mpjp3bzPpA

Wednesday 25 May 2022
BOOK ARTS ONLINE: FRIENDS OF THE BODLEIAN EVENT
Artists’ Books
Chris Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections, in conversation with the American artist and designer Ben Denzer, whose witty and provocative books are acquired by the Library, and Robert Bolick, a collector of thought-provoking artists’ books and up-coming Bodleian exhibition curator. Examples of books will be shown and questions will be encouraged.
1–2pm
Online only
Free, booking required
https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/may22/artists-books

Friday 27 May 2022
HISTORY OF THE BOOK/BOOK ARTS LECTURE
The Making of Tristram Shandy
1 pm – 2 pm (BST)
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library
Free event, booking required. Find the event listing on: visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk
Laurence Sterne’s multi-volume work, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy is one of the most creatively printed novels of the handpress period. Sterne personally intervened in the printing, insisting that each copy have different material features to make readers handle and interpret the text in an entirely new way.
Explore the pages of this novel with Helen Williams (Northumbria University) and Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies), who will guide us through the unique features which bring the book itself into the story.

Novel Impressions is run by Helen Williams (Northumbria University) and funded by the British Academy Rising Star Engagement Awards. It is a series of research- and practice-led events that will create network of early career researchers, printers, and curators producing print workshops for public audiences inspired by eighteenth-century literature. This particular event is supported by the Institute of English Studies, the Bodleian Library, and Book and Print Initiative.

Saturday 28 May 2022
BOOK ARTS WORKSHOP
Storylines: printing Tristram Shandy
11 am – 1 pm (BST)
Bodleian Printing Studio, Schola Musicae, Old Bodleian Library
Booking required.
Deposit of £5 refunded on arrival
In this practical workshop, find out what happens when a story breaks free of words. Join expert printmakers at the Bodleian Bibliographical Press to learn first-hand the techniques used in the convention-defying pages of a 250-year old novel.
Peter Lawrence (Society of Wood Engravers) will introduce the technique of carving illustrations in wood; Richard Lawrence and the workshop team will guide you through setting type, and demonstrate the printing of intaglio plates.
18+ only
Registration is essential. Find the event listing on: visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Maps

The next Oxford Society for Cartography (TOSCA) series will take place via Zoom Webinar at 16.30 (UK time).

Maps of the European Historic Towns Atlas series

Thursday 28 April
Maps of the European Historic Towns Atlas I: Germany
Daniel Stracke (Universität Münster)

Thursday 5 May
Maps of the European Historic Towns Atlas II: Great Britain
Keith Lilley (Queen’s University Belfast)

Thursday 12 May
Maps of the European Historic Towns Atlas III: Ireland
Sarah Gearty (Royal Irish Academy)

Thursday 26 May
Maps of the European Historic Towns Atlas IV: East Central Europe
Katalin Szende (Central European University)

Seminars run from 16.30 to 18.00 (UK time) via Zoom Webinar
For further details, please contact: tosca@bodleian.ox.ac.uk or +44 1865 287119 https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/tosca

The Oxford Seminars in Cartography are supported by: The Friends of TOSCA / The Bodleian Libraries / The School of Geography and the Environment / The Charles Close Society / Lovell Johns Ltd

 

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

Seminar in the History of the Book, 2021

Seminar in the History of the Book, Hilary Term 2021
Fridays at 2:15pm (GMT)
On-line: Register by email to: bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk , giving the dates of any seminars you wish to attend.

Conveners: Cristina Dondi (Lincoln College, Oxford) and Alexandra Franklin (Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book)
Due to limited space (even online), registrations for the live events will be honoured in the order received.
Presentations will be recorded if the speaker has granted permission, and in that case will be available a few weeks after the date of the seminar.

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

Friday, January 29: Special session at 5:00pm GMT
Goostly Psalmes in Oxford and New Haven
Henrike Lähnemann (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford)
‘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
Kathryn James (Beinecke Library, Yale University); Matthew Shaw (The Queen’s College, Oxford); Sarah Wheale (Bodleian Libraries, Oxford)

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

February 12 – No seminar

Friday, February 19
Alessandro Bianchi (Bodleian Libraries, Oxford)
‘Hidden in plain sight. Printed books from the Japanese Mission Press in the Bodleian Collections’

Friday, February 26
Kanupriya Dhingra (SOAS, University of London)
‘Streets and Serendipity: “Locating” Daryaganj Sunday Patri Kitab Bazar’

Friday, March 5
Benjamin Wardhaugh (University of Oxford)
‘Hunting for readers in sixteenth-century editions of the works of Euclid’

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

Six medieval manuscripts, two laptops, a curator and a document camera

 

Teaching with library material has been continuing at the Bodleian’s Weston Library for Special Collections even as provisions to protect the health of staff and readers have placed restrictions on the numbers and movement of people within the Libraries. Several of the Libraries, including the Weston Library, have re-opened to readers since August 2020.

The autumn term usually brings a  large number of University of Oxford classes to the Weston Library seminar rooms to share the collections most closely connected with their studies. This year, some of those visits have continued with students arriving in smaller groups while others have gone online. The key to sharing manuscripts and rare printed material with students and wider audiences has been the provision of films and of live online interaction, through the use of document cameras and smartphones.

A document camera, or visualiser, has been part of the Bodleian master classes set-up for many years, as a means of giving participants in the room–attending in person, remember those times?–a clearer view of details to which speakers wanted to draw attention: decoration, letter forms, binding structures, even (in a good light) the hair and flesh sides of parchment.

Now the same technology enables sharing online, and we, like others in the special collections world, took up the call to action by Aaron Pratt (Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin) in his online seminar in June 2020, Sharing Special Collections with an overhead camera.

The images shared onscreen have been good enough for a Classics seminar to read Latin and Greek text and compare letter forms, and for an Art History class to examine the pages of medieval manuscripts. In the picture attached, curator Martin Kauffmann can be seen addressing a class over Microsoft Teams. In this session, the particular configuration of MSTeams  (the mirroring of the self-view) made it convenient to add a second laptop, so that Dr Kauffmann could see the manuscript onscreen in the same orientation as the students saw it and also see and hear the students onscreen, to ask and answer questions.

How does this compare to in-person teaching? Interaction is less spontaneous than when students visit the seminar rooms. We are all familiar by now with the problem of talking over each other in online meetings, where the ‘raised hand’ emoji replaces our instinctive reliance on the silent cues of posture and eye contact. On the other hand, compared to the experience of crowding around books placed on a seminar table, the online platform brings an image of the manuscript equally to each student’s computer screen.

And yet, as we have learned from work for the Sensational Books project at the Bodleian headed by Emma Smith (Oxford) and Kate Rudy (St Andrews), vision is not the only way to experience books and manuscripts. Seminars in 2019 with blind and partially-sighted visitors highlighted how touch and smell are also information carried in books, and how much variety our rare book and manuscript collections have to offer.