Themes

Website Design

People in the World of Print (2010-2011)

The history of the book has often been characterized by its insistence that the meaning of the book is inseparable from its existence as a material artifact. While we continue to attend to the material objects of print culture, however, we also understand that those objects are made meaningful by the ways in which they are put to use. Those uses may be prompted by the physical properties of the print objects, as well as their linguistic content, but they are not determined by either of them. In our effort to produce a more synoptic, intermedial and intellectually satisfying history of print culture, we want to supplement a history of artefacts with a history of practices. This year we hosted a public lecture by Garrett Stewart, a conference and an exhibition, as well as launching our series of video interviews.

Print Design

Print, Agency and Interaction (2009-2010)

What is the agency of print? Since Elizabeth Eisenstein's path-breaking study, scholars have been exploring the complicated interrelationship of print media and human and technological agency. In 2009-10 we explored how the notion of interactivity can allow us to address the eighteenth-century’s new forms of technologically mediated human agency. Can the printing press be an agent of change? If so, is such change coeval with technological invention or with its social saturation? And how might that saturation have changed how individuals thought about their own agency and the social interactions they experienced? To explore these questions, we held a workshop entitled ‘Print, Agency and Interaction’ and a graduate seminar with Dena Goodman.

Logo Design

Print Culture and Sociability (2008-2009)

How did printed texts interact with other media to help form communities in Europe from 1700 to 1900? As reading became an individual activity rather than a communal one, it also drew together communities whose members couldn’t meet face to face. But how did self-consciously literary communities imagine themselves in a world of profound political change in which print technologies, distribution infrastructures and property rights were all evolving rapidly? With this theme, we highlighted the links between correspondence networks, printed books, reading publics and membership in intellectual and social institutions such as academies and salons, in order to understand how sociability informed and was informed by interactions with print. We hosted a workshop on ‘Sociability and Print’, a graduate seminar with Michelle Levy, and an exhibition on ‘Interactions of Script and Print in the Nineteenth Century.’

Website Design

Senses of Print (2007-2008)

This theme explored how the saturation of print media in the eighteenth century involved not only the literary practices of reading and writing, but also the visual and aural aspects of corporeal experience. Examining a variety of print objects (book illustrations, broadsides, sheet music, song books, lottery tickets, artistic prints, and editions of classical texts) and the social places that they were put to use (the museum, theatre, courthouse, academy, and bourgeois salon) gave us a better understanding of how print appealed to the eyes and ears of eighteenth-century readers - to the senses of the reading, seeing and listening body. We hosted a workshop called ‘Senses of Print’, and graduate seminar with John Lyons and an exhibition on the tradition of physiognomy.

Print Design

Approaches to Interaction (2006-2007)

In our first year, we took as our theme the central concept of our research group: the idea of interaction with print as a cultural practice. We considered ways in which people interacted with printed texts, printed texts interacted with other media, and printed matter structured interactions between individuals. We sought to create a forum where people could share their ideas about print culture, where leading thinkers in this field could come to speak, where students could learn about print, and where opportunities for collaboration would arise. In this year we consulted widely with people who have intellectual interests and institutional experience in this area, and held a workshop.