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. 

Core Aims

  • 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).

Autumn 2021

For the Autumn Term 2021 the Book and Print Initiative seminar series will continue online via Zoom. All sessions will take place Thursdays at 1.00-2.00pm UK time. Please book to receive the meeting link.

7 October 2021: Dustin Dixon (Grinnell/ICS): 'Reading, Spectating, and Comic Wit in Classical Athens' - ONLINE

21 October 2021: Godela Weiss-Sussex (IMLR): 'Berlin Department Store Novels 1900-1930: Between Populist Pulp and Emancipatory Counter-Discourse'

11 November 2021: Brodie Waddell (Birkbeck): 'What Can You do with 2,526 Petitions? Creating, Using and Sharing a New Digital Corpus of Transcribed Manuscripts'

25 November 2021: Rheagan Martin (Warburg Institute): 'Torn Parchment and Painted Coins: Illuminated Claims to Accuracy in Venetian Printed Classical Texts'

9 December 2021: Ulrich Tiedau (UCL): 'Poetry, Propaganda & Scholarship: Belgium in London, 1914-1948. The Émile Cammaerts papers at Senate House Library'