About the Book and Print Initiative

The Book and Print Initiative was founded in 2017 to bring together scholars of books, printed material, and printing, at all career stages, across the School of Advanced Study (SAS). It is an umbrella for new and existing projects. As part of the UK’s research centre for the humanities, it provides a national focal point for the interdisciplinary, global study of word, image, and other written content from before the print era (manuscripts, palaeography, codicology) through to its future (digital humanities). The Book and Print Initiative unites the study of printed material as a physical object with the information it contains and its influence on society. Rejecting the conventional limits of ‘text and image’, its inclusive remit spans artefacts of bindings to zoological illustrations.

The Book and Print Initiative’s directors are Raphaële Mouren (Warburg Institute) and Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies). Its calendar lists relevant events within SAS. Its members are affiliated to the SAS or its projects. Click here to join. 

  • Give visibility to the study of the book, including all of its diverse categories of content, in all of its forms, and from all perspectives that offer new insights;
  • Galvanise the activity of SAS affiliates in the broad field, amplify existing SAS projects, and promote cross-disciplinary research collaborations across SAS and its collections;
  • Facilitate discussions across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, including outreach to scholarly and new audiences;
  • Train the next generation of scholars in the field by supporting MA, MRes, and MPhil programmes and PhD research at SAS, as well as promoting and facilitating research externally;
  • Promote larger, external research collaborations that otherwise would not be possible

SAS’s member institutes have long provided international research leadership in the history of the book. The Institute of English Studies (and its London Rare Books School) defined the field in the UK. SAS expanded the field of the History of the Book to include deeply interdisciplinary methodologies, which is one reason why the topic is of growing importance across the humanities and social sciences but rarely taught elsewhere.

SAS continues to pioneer ways of understanding books as material objects (analytical bibliography, printing techniques, economic histories), social and cultural objects (the history of reading, the history of communication), and textual, pictorial and informational objects (text, illustrations, diagrams, marginalia).

For the Summer Term 2022 the Book and Print Initiative seminar series will continue online via Zoom, bar the final session on 30 June that will be delivered in Senate House Library and live-streamed to zoom. All sessions (bar *) will take place Thursdays at 1.00-2.00pm UK time. Please book to receive the meeting link.

Thursday 19 May
Krystle Attard Trevisan (Institute of English Studies/MUŻA – Malta National-Community Art Museum): 'How to Build a Print Collection in Malta, 1791–1833: Insight from the Purchase Inventory of Count Saverio Marchese'

*Friday 27 May: 1.00-2.00pm
Helen Williams (Northumbria University) & Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies): 'The Making of Tristram Shandy'.
Lecture & object session, organised by the Institute of English Studies, the Bodleian Library, and Book and Print Initiative.
In person: Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG; and on Zoom

Thursday 9 June 2022
Tracy Bergstrom (University of Notre Dame/Warburg Institute): 'Early Modern Italian Collections at the University of Notre Dame'

Thursday 16 June
Tansy Barton (Senate House Library): 'Collecting Palaeography at the University of London'

Thursday 30 June
Enaiê Mairê Azambuja (Institute of Modern Languages Research), Jessica J. Lee (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge) and Argula Rublack (Senate House Library): 'A Thousand Words for Weather': Roundtable (and exhibition tour for those joining in person)

‘A Thousand Words for Weather’ is new sonic installation born out of a collaboration between writer Jessica J. Lee and seven other London-based poets of different mother-tongues, marking a unique collaboration between Artangel and Senate House Library. Alongside the audio installations taking place across three floors of Senate House Library, a new exhibition spotlighting historical items chosen from Senate House Library’s collections will offer a glimpse into different perceptions, recordings, and observations regarding the weather over the past 500 years. The panel will explore the ‘A Thousand Words for Weather’ project and how our experiences of the weather are manifested and communicated in language, print culture and material culture more broadly. 

If you join the event in person, you will be invited to join a 30-minute tour of the installation and the exhibition following the panel discussion starting at 14:00, led by Elissavet Ntoulia (Production Assistant, Artangel). 

ZOOM AND IN PERSON (Senate House Library 4th floor)