Chiara Betti, who holds a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership and is jointly supervised by Elizabeth Savage at the Institute of English Studies and Alexandra Franklin at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University, has won one of the two SHARP 25th Anniversary Research Fellowships.
Chiara's PhD focuses on the 752 printing plates bequeathed by Richard Rawlinson in 1755 to the University of Oxford. Her research takes a multidisciplinary approach that brings together book history, printmaking, engineering, and history of collecting. Alongside the archival research on the provenance of the printing plates, Chiara is studying their manufacture and use, how they compare to other similar collections, and how the plates can still be relevant to contemporary scholarship.
This fellowship will support Chiara's research on the manufacture and use of 17-18th century printing plates and the production of books during that time. The fellowship will allow Chaira to conduct material analyses and high-resolution imaging at the Engineering Department at Oxford. Using the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Chiara will map the crystallography of the plates (i.e., the structure of the metal), showing for the first time in print studies how the composition of copper plates changed throughout the centuries. By X-raying the plates, Chiara will also identify potential conservation issues such as crack and corrosion causes that might go otherwise unnoticed.