Rethinking Early Modern Print Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Holger Schott Syme / University of Toronto



Rethinking Early Modern Print Culture


An international and interdisciplinary conference at

The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto,Toronto, Canada

15-17 October 2010


The view that early modernity saw the transformation ofEuropean societies into cultures of print has been widely influential inliterary, historical, philosophical, and bibliographical studies of the period.The concept of print culture has provided scholars with a powerful tool foranalyzing and theorizing new (or seemingly new) regimens of knowledge andnetworks of information transmission as well as developments in the worlds ofliterature, theatre, music, and the visual arts. However, more recently theconcept has been reexamined and destabilized, as critics have pointed out thecontinuing existence of cultures of manuscript, queried the privileging oftechnological advances over other cultural forces, and identified the presenceof many of the supposed innovations of print in pre-print societies.


This multi-disciplinary conference aims to refine andredefine our understanding of early modern print cultures (from the fifteenthto the end of the seventeenth century). We invite papers seeking to explorequestions of production and reception that have always been at the core of thehistoriography of print, developing a more refined sense of the complex rolesplayed by various agents and institutions. But we especially encouragesubmissions that probe the boundaries of our subject, both chronologically andconceptually: did print culture have a clear beginning? How is the idea of aculture of print complicated by the continued importance of manuscriptcirculation (as a private and commercial phenomenon)? How did print reshape orreconfigure audiences? And what was the place of orality in a world supposedlydominated by print textuality? What new forms of chirography and spoken, liveperformances did print enable, if any?


Other possible topics might include:

* Ownership of texts and plagiarism; authorship; "piracy"

* Booksellers and printers, and their local, national,and international networks

* Readers and their material and interpretative practices

* Libraries, both personal and institutional

* Beyond the book: ephemeral forms of print andmanuscript

* Text and illustration, print and visuality

* Typography, mise en page, binding, and technologicaladvances in book-production


We invite proposals for conference papers of 20 minutesand encourage group-proposals for panels of three papers. Alternative formatssuch as workshops and roundtables will also be considered. Abstracts of 250words can be submitted electronically on the conference website,


The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2009.


All questions ought to be addressed to the conferenceorganizers, Grégoire Holtz (French, University of Toronto) and Holger SchottSyme (English, University of Toronto), at