Dr Paolo Sachet
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

This course aims to provide participants with a comprehensive overview of the printed book during the Renaissance, broadly intended as the trans-European cultural renewal relying on the recovery of antiquity and spanning from mid-fourteenth century to mid-seventeenth century. Through a series of engaging seminars, students will be given the opportunity to explore the impact of printing at the dawn of the early modern era and to put the phenomenon in its appropriate historical context.

After a preliminary insight into the concept of ‘Renaissance’, the first six seminars will focus on printing and humanism, with particular attention paid to those European printers who specialised in the publication of classical literature in Latin and Ancient Greek, as well as in the dissemination of the necessary tools for learning those languages (e.g., the Manutius, Froben and Estienne families).

The second half of the course (seminars 7-12) tackles six crucial topics, concerning printing in non-European languages and locations, the role of printing in the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, the rise of institutional censorship, and the practice of collecting Renaissance books through to the present day, especially in England.

To encourage student involvement, classes will comprise: three visits to the libraries of the University of London (Senate House, Warburg Institute and SOAS); first-hand observation of several printed artefacts either borrowed from Senate House library or consulted in their digitised form; guided exploration of the main online repertoires (e.g., ISTC, EDIT16, VD16, ESTC, USTC, BsB and OnB digital libraries, Project Gutenberg, Europeana, DFG-Viewer, E-Rara, Gallica).

The closing seminar will be devoted to a recapitulation, addressing doubts and curiosities in preparation for a final visit to the British Library and one last display of exceptional books. 

Key Texts

J-F. Gilmont, ed., The Reformation and the Book, Aldershot 1998
L. Jardine, ErasmusMan of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print, Princeton 1993
M. Lowry, The world of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice, Oxford 1979
I. Maclean, Scholarship, Commerce, Religion: The Learned Book in the Age of Confessions, 1560-1630, Cambridge 2012
A. Nuovo, The Book Trade in the Italian Renaissance, Leiden 2013
A. Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance, New Haven-London 2010

Student Comments

Excellent coverage of the Book in Renaissance, covering cultural aspects to place the book as a cultural object in the centre of the discussion. Very helpful with questions and a very broad knowledge of European Renaissance (and beyond!)

Course convenor