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Dear Colleague,

We are very pleased to learn of your interest in the NEH summer school “Researching Early Modern Manuscripts and Printed Books,” which will be held in New York from 15 June to 11 July 2013. The history of the book is one of the most dynamic and innovative fields of scholarship in the humanities today. Research in this area in recent years has furnished unique insights into the cultural, material, intellectual, and economic dimensions of manuscripts and books during the Renaissance. We have designed this summer seminar to introduce scholars to the state of the art in terms of current scholarship across a range of topics as well as providing them with the practical skills which are essential to the appreciation of books and manuscripts as material objects in their own right. The seminar’s location in New York will enable participants to draw on and benefit from the city’s extraordinarily rich library and archival holdings in Renaissance material.

As project directors, we have been tasked with the exciting challenge of assembling a group of 16 scholars with the objective of bringing together at the seminar a diversity of experience, expertise, perspectives, and backgrounds. The seminar will appeal in the main to faculty working in history, language, and literature programs who wish to acquire new skills and knowledge which will enable them to research and teach more effectively and creatively in the area of book history. We are conscious that the skills necessary to undertake research at the highest level in book history and manuscript studies are not widely taught in the United States. The seminar will introduce participants to codicology, palaeography, analytical bibliography, textual editing, and the study of early modern book catalogues to enable them to research more effectively and fruitfully.

In order to accomplish these goals, we are running a four-week intensive seminar on how the ability to access, handle, describe, and analyze early modern manuscripts and printed books can deepen research and make possible a new range of questions.  The sorts of information about the past embedded in the particular material realities encountered in the physical book create new ways of looking at the early modern period and our relation to it.  As we are constantly reminded that we are coming to the end of the age of the book, it is more important than ever that American scholars be trained in the these areas if they are to keep pace with European scholars who have greater access to early modern manuscripts and books and more training in working with them. One of the key questions that we want to look at is the survival of manuscripts in the early modern period and how this scribal culture, which continued right alongside the advent of printing, played an important role in the dissemination of texts of all sorts: political, religious, scientific, and literary.

Another question that we will be examining is how manuscripts influenced printed books and vice versa, for example the way the book hands and lay-out of manuscripts influenced the format and type-face of printed books, or the way that scribes sometimes imitated illustrations from printed engravings.  When it comes to printed books, we want to examine how their physical features — binding, paper, lay-out, and type — as well as their paratexts of all sorts, including dedications, prefaces, and indices — construct their reception and interpretation.  We will examine such features of early modern manuscripts and printed books as frontispieces, illustrations, maps, with an eye toward understanding how the book is constructing a view of the larger world.  The danger of taking texts out of the context of their original printing can take us further and further away from their existence as events in history, while the restoration of these material details help us understand the creation of an intended readership as well as the original reception of the work and its relation to other works in the period.

We have chosen New York as the location of the seminar because it is the single richest location in the United States for a wide variety of research into the history of the book in the Renaissance, including illuminated books of hours, humanist manuscripts, post-Gutenberg literary manuscripts, Reformation printed pamphlets, and books, early modern scientific books, and book catalogues.  Because of this wealth of research resources, New York has also attracted some of the most skilled and knowledgeable curators in the world.  The seminar aims to build a conversation between curators and academics, to show academics how their research depends upon a relationship with expert curators.  By bringing together some of the foremost practitioners of the study of the material book in their respective fields we hope that we will foster a kind of synergy that will make possible new collaborations between scholars and new thinking about research inspired by such interaction. This program will give the participants the needed informed introduction to major New York collections of early modern manuscripts and rare books under the guidance of the most experienced curators.

Presentations by historians and literary scholars who have pursued research in those collections will give concrete examples of how consulting actual early modern materials has made possible innovative research in such fields as Spanish humanism, Shakespeare studies, early modern English religious history, and the history of medicine. Rather than limit ourselves to one field or one approach, we believe that the cross-disciplinary conversation that can emerge between historians and literary scholars and between scholars working in different vernacular languages can open up a kind of comparative study of the history of the book.  Built into the schedule is time for the participants’ own research in the participating institutions as well as other libraries and collections in New York.  As a result of this seminar, the participants will have mastered crucial skills of book history and have conducted a month of research that allows them to consult actual early modern manuscripts and books. Perhaps most importantly the participants will have begun a relationship with curators and librarians that will continue to enrich their thinking about their research in years to come.

We will study the historical development of books from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century in four different ways: 1) through the discussion of core readings in the history of the book led by the co-directors; 2) through presentations by curators on particular forms of the book in which the participants will be given first-hand contact with manuscripts and books and learn about the strengths of the collections and how those collections relate to their own research; 3) through guest presentations by historians and literary scholars who will explain how studying the physical book has transformed their research; and 4) through the participants’ research, which will take place on the three to four (Thursday-Sunday) days per week when there are no scheduled meetings, and presentations on their work in progress in which they will demonstrate how newly-acquired knowledge has permitted them to approach their research topic from different perspectives. The discussion of the core readings will prepare the participants to engage effectively in the presentations by the curators.  The presentations by the curators will aid the participants in preparing for their research since the participants will gain expertise in analyzing manuscripts and books and have the opportunity to ask questions related to their own research.  The guest lectures will be devoted to particular topics of research that have arisen from study in particular collections that will give concrete examples of different areas of book history. Through discussing their work with curators and guest lecturers and presenting their work in progress during the final week of the seminar, the participants will receive useful feedback and guidance for the pursuit and realization of their research projects.

During the first week of the seminar, we will be focusing on the basics of codicology (the study of the materials and techniques used to make manuscripts) for the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.  The core readings for this week will focus on late medieval and early Renaissance codicology and paleography (the study of handwriting) and will be taken from such standards in the field as Derolez’s The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books and Clemens and Graham’s Introduction to Manuscript Studies. These basic reading will be supplemented by Michelle P. Brown’s Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms a useful reference work, and Armando Petrucci’s “Reading and Writing Volgare in Medieval Italy,” Chapter 9 of Writers and Readers in Medieval Italy, which relates the production of manuscripts with social and intellectual history and the history of reading. After the initial orientation meeting on the morning Monday, June 17, the first afternoon session and the second and third morning sessions, the directors will both give presentations and lead discussions of the readings in order to prepare the students for afternoon visits first to the Morgan Library, which contains one of the greatest collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the world, with a particular strength in illustrated illuminated manuscripts. Roger Wieck (Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts) will give a workshop on illuminated manuscripts of the late middle ages and early Renaissance (June 18).  On June 19, we will visit the Columbia Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection, where Consuelo Dustchke (Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts) will present on both later medieval and Renaissance humanists manuscripts.

The second week of the seminar will focus on the persistence of manuscripts in the Renaissance, or what could be called post-Guttenberg manuscript culture.   On the first day of week two (June 24), we will have a presentation by Earle Havens (Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Johns Hopkins) on his work on reconstructing underground Catholic libraries and manuscript sources, and on the hybridity of Renaissance manuscript and print, specifically in the Alba Amicorum. Then he and Alexandra Walsham (Professor, Modern History, Trinity College, Cambridge) will give a joint presentation on their collaborative research on editing illicit Renaissance verse.  On the second and third days of week two (June 25-26), we will meet at the CUNY Graduate Center where Heather Wolfe will give two workshops on early modern English paleography, with an emphasis on the secretary hand.  The core readings for these sessions will be Jean Preston and Laetitia Yeandle’s English Handwriting 1400-1650: An Introductory Manual, and Mark Bland’s A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts, supplemented by such important reference works as Peter Beal’s A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology.   On the morning of the fourth day of week two, we will visit the Hispanic Society of America where John O’Neill (Curator, Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts & Head of Library) will give an introduction to the collection, and provide some instruction in Spanish early modern hands, and Lía Schwartz (Distinguished Professor, Spanish, CUNY Graduate Center) will give a lecture about the process of transmission of the text of Francisco de Quevedo’s satire, “The Hour of All and Fortune in Its Wits” – La hora de todos y  la Fortuna con seso and her 2009 edition of this text based on two partial seventeenth-century manuscripts and the only extant complete manuscript now in the Hispanic Society of America.  Her edition published in 2009, and also of a former edition published in the collection of the complete prose works of Quevedo, based upon printed testimonies, will be the reading for this session, along with Michael Hunter’s Editing Early Modern Texts: An Introduction to Principles and Practice. The final day of that week we will have a discussion in the morning about the debates over Shakespeare and the book and the relationship between manuscript evidence and dramatic culture. Here the key readings will be Grace Ioppolo’s Dramatists and their Manuscripts in the Age of Shakespeare, Jonson and Middleton: Authorship, Authority and the Playhouse, David Kastan’s Shakespeare and the Book, and Lukas Erne’s Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist.  The final afternoon of week two, Grace Ioppolo will present her work on the digitization of the Henslowe-Alleyn Papers.

During the third week, the focus will be on printed books for which the key reading will be David McKitterick, Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order 1450–1830, which responds to the debates over printing between Elizabeth Eisenstein and Adrian Johns as to the degree of uniformity in early modern printing and discusses the ramification of the particular problems posed by the way in which pages of print were type set in the hand press period. To make this all as concrete as possible for the participants, we will make a field trip to the New York Center for Book Arts in the evening to observe classes in hand type setting and letter press printing. On the first day of week three, we will discuss analytical bibliography, or the analysis of the format of the book, and in particular the account by Philip Gaskell in his A New Introduction to Bibliography. That afternoon, we will visit the Morgan Library, where John Bidwell (Astor Curator, Rare Books and Bindings) will introduce the participants to the collection and present a workshop on the difference that analytical bibliography makes in the interpretation of the printed book.

On the morning of day two of the third week we will be visiting the McAlpin Collection, where Matthew Baker and the conservation team at the Burke Library will give a presentation on the riches which contains some 18,000 sixteenth and seventeenth century printed books that are crucial for an understanding of the political and religious history of early modern Britain.  In the afternoon, Giles Mandelbrote (Librarian and Archivist, Lambeth Palace, London) will present a workshop on the modern book trade and library catalogues at the Grolier Club Library, which is devoted to the history of the book –including bibliographies, histories of printing, and exhibition catalogues.  The reading for that day will be Giles Mandelbrote and Barry Taylor’s Libraries Within the Library: The Origins of the British Library’s Printed Collections.  On the third and final day of week three, we will be meeting at the New York Academy of Medicine where Arlene Shaner (Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections) will present an introduction to early modern printed medical books, a majority of the 80,000 volumes in the collection.  A scholar who has based a great deal of her scholarly work on research in this collection, Monica Calabritto (Associate Professor, Romance Languages, Hunter, and Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, CUNY) will present her research on works of medical consilia in relation to the topic of madness. The reading for this day will be “Medicina practica, consilia and the Illnesses of the Head in Girolamo Mercuriale and Giulio Cesare Claudini: Similarities and Differences of the Sexes” Medicina e storia vol. 11 (October 2006) and “Curing Melancholia in Sixteenth-Century Medical Consilia, between Theory an Practice.”

During the final week of classes, the participants will present their own work in progress, starting Tuesday, July 9 and ending Thursday, July 11.  The final project will be a paper based on the work in progress completed during the first three weeks.   One hour will be allotted to each of the sixteen presenters, so that each will be given thirty to forty minutes for the oral presentation, and from twenty minutes to a half hour for discussion.  This means that we will be meeting 9 AM–12 Noon and then 2 PM–5PM, on these days with coffee and lunch breaks at the Graduate Center cafeteria on the eight floor. In addition to this varied and rich schedule of academic seminars, we have also scheduled five field trips (only the first of which is mandatory, but to which all are welcome). On the Saturday afternoon before the start of classes, we will have an orientation at the New York Public Library, which will include students being issued their reader’s cards for the Research Library on 42nd Street and the Rare Books Division, and a general orientation. At the end of the first week, we will have a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Library on Friday afternoon and on Friday evening, when the galleries are open until 9 PM, we will tour the Renaissance paintings, and then meet for dinner together.  At the end of the second week, on Saturday, we will have a West Side outing including a visit to the New York Historical Society’s Library, a picnic in Central Park while we wait on line to get tickets for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production. The afternoon will be free for hiking in the park, shopping, or visiting museums.  We will meet again at dusk to see the play.  During the fourth week of the seminar we will have an outing to hear the Metropolitan Opera in Central Park.  And finally, at the end of the last day of the seminar on July 11, there will be a reception at the CUNY Graduate Center hosted by the Renaissance Studies Certificate Program and the Renaissance Society of America, whose office is housed at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Housing has been reserved at International House at 500 Riverside Drive, near to Columbia University, a short walk from the W. 116th Street stop on the #1 Subway train that will take you to 34th Street Station, a short walk from the CUNY Graduate Center.  The commute is no more than 30 minutes. Each participant who decides to use this facility will need to make a decision as soon upon learning of acceptance to the program as possible, but no later than April 19. Then each participant will need to make his or her own deposit no later than April 30.

The cost of a thirty-day stay from June 13 to July 13 will run between $1,000 and $1,200 for a single room, including bed, desk, bookcase, chest of drawers, and closet.  Some rooms have sinks. Air-conditioners can be purchased and sold before leaving.  There are five separate air-conditioned study rooms as well. Bathrooms are shared on the floor. The cost includes wireless throughout the building, as well as $4.50 per day for food that can be purchased in the building’s cafeteria.  There is also a television room, a pub, and a gym in the building.

Please see the following website for a tour of the facilities and a brochure: http://www.omnisightinc.com/virtual-tours/international-house/new-york-graduate-student-housing-residential-community-virtual-tour/

We very much hope that you will find the information on this site of interest and that you will consider submitting an application for “Researching Early Modern Manuscripts and Printed Books.”  If you have any specific questions in relation to the seminar, you are more than welcome to contact us at ccarroll1@gc.cuny.edu or marc.caball@ucd.ie.

Best wishes,

Clare Carroll & Marc Caball