FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

April 15, 2009 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on April 15, 2009.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

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Book History, Lyon in September! -- & a Homer Note


The annonce just-issued, by the Institut d'histoire du livre, of this year's Book History Workshop, to be held in Lyon:

-- few better or more congenial ways to learn about The Book, paper & boards & marocain etc., and in one of the places where its printed format was invented, and pre-digital!

-- also to consider Transitions In Media, before & then & since

-- and Lyon-in-September... nice weather...




Lyon, France, 1 - 4 septembre 2009

"The seventh Book History Workshop offers four advanced courses aimed at a variety of specialists who encounter questions related to book and printing history in the course of their work. Each course is taught by a leading international specialist in the field with emphasis on the study of original documents.

"The Book History Workshop, organised by the Institut d'histoire du livre, is the European offshoot of the Rare Book School, universally recognised by specialists in the field of book history. Founded by Terry Belanger at Columbia University, RBS is now run at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. A second offshoot of RBS has also been established in New Zealand.

"The philosophy of the Book History Workshop is to perpetuate and develop skills and practical knowledge in the field of book history. Courses are based on intensive contact with internationally recognised specialists in specific fields, using printed and audiovisual documents with 'hands-on' sessions with original documents of all periods from the rare book collections of Lyon's City Library and Printing Museum.

"An important aspect of the Book History Workshop is its transversality: in bringing together a wide range of professionals it encourages exchanges among the many fields which contribute to the development of book history.



* [New] Paper and watermarks as bibliographical evidence

"The course provides a basic introduction to the techniques of Western hand paper-making and to how paper is exploited as bibliographical evidence in the study of manuscripts and printed books. It begins with the historical background of the advent of paper-making in the Middle Ages (when in Italy the technology was developed by contact with the wool industry) and continues through to the Nineteenth century and the introduction of mechanised paper-making with the Fourdrinier process.

"Extensive reference will be made to Eighteenth-century published texts and copper-plate illustrations in French, in particular L'Art de faire le papier by Lalande (1761) and the entry 'Papeterie' in the Encyclopedie of Diderot and D'Alembert (1765), in order to explain the organisation of the paper mill and work done at the vat.

"It will analyse in detail basic sheet-size ratios (in particular those on the Bologna stone, c. 1389), formats, mould construction, the purposes of twin moulds, and the design and typologies of watermarks; it will also include a survey of standard sources and will explain how to interpret Briquet, Piccard, and other repertories for the purpose of watermark recognition and classification.

"Practical sessions will involve the examination of sheets of paper, mainly from the Eighteenth century, in order to distinguish the mould/felt sides, to identify watermark/countermark, and to recognise twin watermarks. Information will also be provided about methods employed to describe and reproduce watermarks, such as tracing, rubbing, beta-radiography, and digital imaging.

"Explanations will be provided about how paper evidence can be applied to identify substitutions and modifications in manuscripts or in printed books. Some cases in which paper evidence has played a key part in the resolution of a bibliographical problem, such as the Constance Missale speciale, the De cardinalatu of Paolo Cortesi, the first edition of the 'rifacimento' of the Orlando Innamorato by Francesco Berni, and the Shakespeare Pavier quartos, will also be considered. The course will not deal with issues of paper conservation or restoration.

"Tutor: Neil Harris. The course is in English, discussion in English and French. Neil Harris is Professor of Bibliology at the University of Udine in Italy. After a first degree in English at Oxford, a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Leicester, a Perfezionamento at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa turned what began as a learned footnote into a vocation for bibliography. Best known as the author of a Bibliografia dell' "Orlando Innamorato" (1988-91), his recent work includes in-depth studies of the printing of the Aldine Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and a lengthy exploration of the tricks of the trade used in the publication of Sixteenth-century Italian poetry. A roving existence, including years of teaching English as a foreign language, has left him with a mixed baggage of experience and a deep-seated conviction about the importance of being a bibliographer.


* Introduction to the study of incunabula

"Introduction to the study of the earliest printed books through a critical discussion of the methods and techniques available to incunabulists.

"Topics include : the invention of printing; the most important catalogues, their aims, strengths and weaknesses; the interpretation of colophons; books as physical objects providing evidence of how the printers of incunabula worked (vellum, paper studies, formats, atherings; signatures, the identification of type and printing house practices); illustration, lay-out and texts; decoration; distribution; early provenance and later collectors.

"Tutor: Kristian Jensen. The course is in English. Kristian Jensen is Head of British Collections at the British Library, where he was formerly Head of Incunabula. In Oxford, he initiated the Bodleian Library's Incunable Catalogue Project, which he led for seven years. He has published widely on books and their readers in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. His recent work explores the interaction between commercial needs of book producers and the intellectual needs of their buyers and how it affects texts, their availability, and use. He is currently working on the way in which the collecting of incunabula in the eighteenth century changed, reflecting new and competing ways of using the past to express contemporary cultural and political concerns.


* [New in French] Physical (analytical) bibliography

"The largely Anglo-Saxon discipline of analytical bibliography offers historians an archaeology of the printed book. The course offers a practical introduction to the analysis and description of documents typeset by hand and printed on the common press before 1800. The aim is to familiarise students with the many ways in which books reveal how they were produced, who printed them, and where.

"Topics include: basic concepts and definitions; history of the theory and practice of analytical bibliography; the organisation of early printing shops; precise methods of book description (in particular collational formulae); the importance of comparing different copies of the same book; the detection of counterfeit copies, false imprints and forgeries; the identification of typical booking styles.

"Tutor: Dominique Varry. The course is in French. Dominique Varry is Senior Lecturer in Book history at the Enssib where he teaches the history of the book and libraries. He has authored and co-authored numerous books and articles on the history of books and libraries. His publications include : Lyon et les livres (2006) ; "Sous la main de la Nation". Les Bibliothèques de l'Eure confisquées sous la Révolution française (2005) ; L'Europe et le livre. Réseaux et pratiques du négoce de librairie XVIe-XIXe siècles (1996) ; Le livre et l'Historien. Etudes offertes au professeur Henri-Jean Martin (1997) ; Hommes de Dieu et Révolution en Alsace (1993) ; Histoire des bibliothèques françaises (1991) ; Sous la main de la Nation : la Révolution française et les bibliothèques (1989) ; Guide des sources de l'histoire de la Révolution française dans les bibliothèques (1988) ; Une Seigneurie du pays belfortain, la paroisse de Phaffans au XVIIIe siècle (1984).


* Printed ephemera under the magnifying glass

"This course addresses printed ephemera from several different directions, but principally with the needs of the curator and collector in mind. It will focus on c19 British and French ephemera, though the general issues raised relate to all periods and to material in other languages. Classes will consist of a mix of illustrated talks on specific topics, discussion periods, and sessions spent looking at original items.

"Topics include: processes used in the production of ephemera (in particular, transfer lithography and chromolithography); acquisitions policies and strategies; describing and cataloging ephemera; dating ephemera; terminology; digitization of collections. Members of the class are invited -- though not required -- to give short accounts or presentations of focused collections in their care, whether private or institutional. This course, which is taught in French, is similar to that offered by the Rare Book School, but with a distinctly French focus.

"Tutor: Michael Twyman. The course is in English. Michael Twyman is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading and has written extensively on the history of printing, lithography and ephemera. He is the author of John Soulby, Printer, Ulverston (1966), Printing 1770-1970 (1970, reprinted 1998), The British Library Guide to Printing: History and Techniques (1998), Lithography 1800-1850 (1970), Early Lithographed Books (1990), and Early Lithographed Music (1996). He has also edited The Encyclopedia of Ephemera the uncompleted work of the late Maurice Rickards' (2000).


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Homer Note:

My wife and I just have been to see "War Music", which is a stage play based upon a written poem based upon a translated poem based upon a very old oral poem or song or series of poems and songs... We're talking about nearly 3000 years, now, since "Homer".

One wonders then what gets lost, and gained, in translation: over such a span of languages and cultures and media -- whether it be ephemera, or incunabula, or paper-bearing-watermarks -- and good bibliography always will be helpful, too, a recent list of Homer printed versions fills over 200 double-columned pages...

The notion that a "text" such as this tale of Achilles' anger can travel from one medium to another now seems acceptable, whereas the idea that such traveling can be done untouched-by-time seems not. The performance this afternoon included shades of the 1960s, and of the Iraq Invasion, and touches from several awful European Wars, along with its great universal themes and timeless scenes.

But does the "medium" touch the "text", too? The printed book has been one of the most supple media for texts. But did it / does it "change" our perceptions, as history undoubtedly does? What we saw on-stage here in San Francisco, this afternoon, certainly was nothing Homer might have imagined. But then his recitations perhaps were nothing we might imagine or be able to appreciate, either. And they say his era or that just before it was illiterate -- the characters in his masterpiece call letters on pages "magic symbols" -- so what would the old blind poet have thought of printed "books" of his "texts", I wonder?

Still, we all recognize universals: such as anger -- we see that at home, at work, sometimes at play, always in war -- and perhaps, when we hear it in a recitation, or see and hear it on a stage or in a movie, or read it in a book, it is the same.

So, kudos to the IHL for continuing the effort to teach us about printed books: not all of us learn best that way, or so we have known and now have re-discovered -- but nearly all of us can do so, now, and if we stop doing so we all will lose what "print" can tell us, of a "text".


Jack Kessler,







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