A new Sheffield network for enthusiasts of all things book historical met for the first time last week. Its aim is to create a space for collaboration and reflection that is both interdisciplinary in nature and transhistorical in reach, building on the Faculty’s strengths in Early Modern Studies whilst extending beyond the canonical centre of book history in the early modern period. Book History at Sheffield will host monthly seminars, ad hoc workshops on practical and theoretical questions, and occasional reading group meetings. The seminar programme for the spring and summer includes Marcus Nevitt on seventeenth-century newsbooks, Emma Rhatigan on editing the sermons of John Donne, Amber Regis on the textual afterlife of John Addington Symonds’s memoirs, and poet and printer Richard Parker of the Crater Press.
The network has been established by Rachel Stenner (School of English) and Seán Williams (School of Languages and Cultures). Seán and Rachel will be presenting a snapshot of their book historical research alongside Alex Hitchman (Department of History) at an Early Modern Forum Windows on Research lunchtime session on Thursday April 14th. Seán’s work enquires into how material print culture of the ‘long’ eighteenth century intersects with and influences German poetics and philosophy. He is particularly interested in the preface, the novel, and the anthology as textual and theoretical phenomena of print culture. Rachel’s work also addresses the intersections of material texts and poetics; she proposes that authors from William Caxton to Alexander Pope develop shared creative strategies for fictionalising the world of printing. She will speak about the development of a new project on the sixteenth-century poet-printer, William Baldwin. Alex’s research is focused on legal pamphlets produced in the first English Civil War. He uses bibliographical and typographical analyses of, for example, woodcuts, ornamental letters and imprints to shed light on the way that printers intervened in politicised legal discussions taking place in the 1640s.