N e w s
N o t i c e s

Our informal seminar series, all held in The Parlour, Magdalene College, Cambridge, 5 pm (refreshments; speaker to begin 5.15) unless stated

Monday 20 January 2020

Dominic Bridge (University of Liverpool)

Between Culture and Commerce: Music Publishers and their Networks in Eighteenth-Century London

Using a database of music publishers, this paper aims to uncover the individuals and geography of the trade, opening up music publishing to questions of class, gender, politics,  and place.It will also discuss how a digital humanities approach will facilitate a comparative history of similar studies of literary print, and, ultimately, how this will help to uncover the stories of those individuals working in the complex networks surrounding musical print 

Spring 2020 Workshop
Science and the Enlightenment
The Reception of Erik Pontoppidan's Det forste forsog Norges naturlige historie (1752-3) [and Versuch einer naturlichen Geschichte Norwegens (1753-4) and The Natural History of Norway (1755)]
The Danish intellectual, cleric and writer, Erik Pontopiddan (1698-1764) wrote and published (in Copenhagen) his Det forste forsog Norges naturlige historie (1752-3) in Danish shortly after his appointment (and semi-exile) as Bishop of Bergen in Denmark-Norway 1752-3. The work is a detailed survey of the flora, fauna and topography of Norway, with sections also on habits, costume and folklore - and it is famously illustrated with pull-out maps and engravings. It was translated into German a year later [Versuch einer naturlichen Geschichte Norwegens (1753-4)] and a year after that into a lavish English edition. It was reviewed across Europe in all main reviewing periodicals, the German edition ordered by major institutions across mainland Europe and then the English edition bought by institutions and significant writers and collectors from Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia to the Maharajah of Tranquebar in India.
Pontoppidan pioneered and insisted upon a new scientific and historical method: observation and verification of all natural phenomena and events recorded. But there was a significant twist to the book's reception: to Pontoppidans later chagrin, the global interest focused on Pontoppidan's assertions (involving his scientific verification of evidence techniques) about the existence of sea serpents, kraken, and mermaids and mermen. Most of the surviving copies have annotations to this effect - and for a century or more the book became associated with avowals of the existence of monsters (and an unconscious engagement with a Nordic tradition of storytelling about giant sea creatures and especially Jormungandr, the World Serpent or Midgard Serpent, since at least Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) Swedish Catholic writer and cleric and as incorporated within early modern natural history - most notably by Conrad Gessner (1516-65) the Swiss physician, naturalist and bibliographer). Discussing the tale of Thor fishing for the Midgard Serpent, Bishop Thomas Percy noted in 1770, 'we see plainly in the . . . fable the origin of those vulgar opinions entertained in the north, and which Pontoppidan has recorded concerning the craken and that monstrous serpent described in his History of Norway.'
 dates tba

Tuesday 28 November 2017,  Dr Dennis Duncan (current Munby Fellow, University Library, Cambridge), 'Filthy Talk p.2': Handwritten Indexes in Printed Books'

Monday 15 January 2018  Dr Joseph McDermott, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, 'Transmitting Paper and Printing Technologies Across Eurasia: What the Successes and Failures Have to Teach One Another' 

Monday 26 February 2018 5 pm A book launch for What is the History of the Book? by James Raven (drinks and refreshments; all welcome) followed at 5.30 by Dr Nil Palabiyik, University of Manchester, 'The Humanist Interest in the Ottoman Language: Marginalia and Annotations in Turkish Books from Early Modern Libraries'

Monday 16 April 2018 Prof. Porscha Fermanis, University College Dublin.' The SouthHem Project: Literary Outputs and Mediating Institutions Produced in the Southern Hemisphere and Straits Settlements 1780-1870.'


Monday 29 October at 5.30 pm (drinks from 5 pm)  - Dr Christina Lupton, University of Warwick, introducing her new book (published by Johns Hopkins University Press in May), Reading Codex and the Making of Time

Monday 5 November AT 8.30 pm - Dr Nikita Makarchev, Magdalene will be presenting and talking about books from his collection:

2 x 2 = 5: Protests and Experiments in Revolution-Era Russian Poetry

 "In hurried steps a new 'red aestheticization' is being created...  An ominous sign, this. Manufacturers of cliche they are"    -   Imaginists, Eight Points (1924)

"My talk aims to rediscover the suppressed, avant-garde poetic voices that informed and underpinned the Russian revolution's preliminary years, 1917-1925. Through a collection of contemporaneous dissident poetry, I plan to underscore the richness of radical enquiry and experimentation that Bolshevik censors saw as a 'malignant outrage... on mankind, and over modern Russia" (Lunacharsky 1921). Further questions I consider include: What is the role of poetry in society? What new insights can these works teach us about the early 20th century avant-garde? How do these works transcend their time-period and remain relevant today?'

Note: the talk is based on Nikita's prize-winning submission this year to Cambridge University's Rose Book Collecting Prize The UL has put this online at:

Monday 19 November at 5.00 pm - Dr Joanna Maciulewicz, Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, introducing her new book (published by Palgrave Macmillan in August). Representations of Book Culture in Eighteenth-Century English Imaginative Writing in a talk entitled 'The Story of the Book: Uses of Literary Sources in the History of the Book'.

All welcome. 

Our seminars and lectures are part  of our major international project: 

The Bibliography of Enlightenment: Literature, History and Economics, directed by James Raven

The Project was launched by an international workshop:

Understanding Mediation: Knowing about Communication in Enlightenment Europe 15-18 September 2013, at Magdalene College, Cambridge, sponsored by a major grant from the European Science Foundation

Since 2015 the workshop has been extended by further meetings of its members in Cambridge and in other research centres in Europe, and the Trust has sponsoried evening seminar series in the Parlour, Magdalene College.

Past presentations include illustrated talks by Dr Isabelle Baudino (University of Lyon) in May 2016, and by Prof. Monica Bolufer (University of Valencia and a founding member of the CPBT ESF Workshop of 2013) in July 2016. 

The Understanding Mediation workshop has pioneered a new interdisciplinary history of communication and its contemporary understanding in Enlightenment Europe by establishing a platform to connect diverse historical approaches to ‘mediation’ with new digital sources and retrieval opportunities.

The social history of knowledge is being transformed by advances in transnational histories of ‘mediation’, print and material culture, communication networks and parallel critical approaches, but awaits joined-up investigation.

Further details:

1.The ESF workshop explored new directions in the social history of knowledge by forging new connections between research and digital resource possibilities (databases/textual corpora/digital libraries) and different conceptual approaches which, independently, have been transforming the transnational European history of communication. The main topics were mediation, bibliographical digital resources, the history of letters, print, books and reading, network theory and material cultures (including ‘thing theory’ and ideas of ‘quasi objects’), and the contemporary response to mediation change. Experts in all of these presented resumés of the current state of research to outline new possibilities in comparative understanding of Enlightenment networks in Europe c. 1650-1800. Discussion developed the concepts of ‘mediation’ and the social history of knowledge to engage with recent and developing bibliographical and digital resources on a pan-European scale. Nearly sixty years after L’apparition du Livre by Febvre and Martin the fast developing study of the ‘history of the book’ has revolutionised national bibliographical study and yet does not fully engage with adventurous new work concerning networks, mediation and material objects. It is essential to engage with the both newly accessible archives and libraries in central and eastern Europe and fast developing trans-European digitising projects and digital research possibilities to provide a framework for productive collaboration.

2. The workshop developed three important new breakthroughs: first, to extend current exploratory work in the social history of knowledge and the concept of ‘mediation’ to consider eighteenth-century understanding of the processes of mediation by trawls of correspondence and printed representations (many allowed by new archival and digital resources); second, to combine bibliographical and new Enlightenment scholarship in a broad European context; third, to move beyond national history of the book projects, and in particular to embrace new international digital resources. Many European scholars are working on these issues in relative isolation or within set disciplinary frameworks; the CPBT workshop offered the opportunity to explore beyond these limits and forge a new agenda. National short-title catalogues and completed and on-going national histories of the book offer resources and models but we need to break down artificial boundaries, exactly as books did, and to exploit new resources and advances in historical research to offer new and innovative approaches to understand cross-cultural production and reception of material texts (including correspondence). As some countries take up the challenge of fresh but nationally-based bibliographical projects, there is a great need to plan beyond such endeavours, assisting with those in progress, but also encouraging pan-European co-operation and historical research in broadly European communication history.

3.Discussion addressed the transmission of correspondence and manuscript and printed texts in the context first of digital bibliographical projects, and second, of conceptual work about mediation, communication networks and material objects. Those attending drew up in advance a series of 1. brief overviews of current research in their area 2. statements of specific strategies to enable long-term collaboration. These were precirculated. An ESF standing committee representative outlined future application possibilities and assisted in their design. The workshop was arranged to discuss and draw up conclusions in a stage-by-stage method (as outlined below) following but also updating 1. the current state of bibliographical and history of communication, correspondence and book history projects and 2. the future of digital projects and the opportunities for collaboration. Those engaged in digital projects (notably ESTC) are offering timely calls for greater engagement with current research agendas. Breakthroughs are especially sought in bringing together scholars from western, eastern, southern and northern Europe to share advances (digital and procedural) and research weaknesses, to mutual benefit. Discussants and chairs at the workshop have proven experience in follow-up initiatives and in planning follow-up events and disseminating results and publication. Digital humanities representatives are at the fore of various international bibliographical projects: the workshop offers a platform for forging long-term collaboration.

Giles Barber and John Nourse

The Trust is delighted to announce that research papers and materials by the late Giles Barber and relating to the life and work of John Nourse, Enlightenment Bookseller of London, have been deposited on loan at Magdalene College, under the care of Prof Raven and Dr Phillips. Completion of Giles Barber's projected book on Nourse will be part of the Bibliography of Enlightenment project.