Binders in a Bind: Making Books in an Age of Print (SoFCB Program)

Date: 25 September 2019
Time: 7:00–8:30 p.m.
Location: Perini Lecture Hall, Saint Anselm College
Presented by: Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, the Bean Distinguished Lecturer Series, and the Saint Anselm College Dean Speakers' Fund

A lecture by Aaron Pratt, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator of Early Books & Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.

While the advent of the European printing press in the 1450s mechanized book production in Europe, bookbinding remained a static, handcrafted technology long after the transition from manuscript to print. In the study of early print technology in the West, scholars tend to neglect bookbinding practices when telling the story of the transition from manuscript to print. This lecture will discuss how bookbinding technologies gradually adapted to print culture in early modern England, and also how immigrant bookbinders in London influenced shifts in bookbinding technology during this fraught transitional period. The lecture will discuss how immigrant bookbinders (particularly those working for the Stationers’ Company, an influential bookseller and publishing house) coped with labor disputes. By focusing on immigrant bookbinders the lecture will demonstrate how transitional technologies were shaped by the labor force and by immigration rhetoric in early modern, Shakespearean London.

The lecture will be accompanied by an exhibit on “Transitional Technologies” headed by Special Collections Librarian Keith Chevalier and featuring Saint Anselm College’s Archives & Special Collections holdings. Drop-in hours are on Thursday, 26 September from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. on the second floor of Geisel Library.

The exhibit printed books from the 1450–1500 transitional period, late medieval manuscript leaves, and book bindings, paired with “transitional technologies” in book illustration, from woodcuts to copper-plate engraving to lithography.

Both the lecture and the exhibit gesture towards the transitional moment we are currently in, shedding light on how these key transitional moments reorient public perspective on value, labor, art, and consumerism, and offering a historical perspective on how previous transitions in book technology were dealt with by artisans, shop owners, large publishing houses, and the public.

See the Facebook event page for more details.