University of Bristol: Bristol secures funding for new project which will examine the history of the early book

The Marie Słodowska-Curie Doctoral Network called Re-mediating the Early Book: Pasts and Futures will fund a cohort of researchers in six universities (Bristol, Alicante, Vienna, Zürich, Antwerp, and NUI Galway) to promote postgraduate research and training.

Most of the funding will be to finance postgraduate researchships in all the partner institutions, with two coming to Bristol.

The books being studied date from the late medieval and very early modern periods, largely from the 15th and 16th centuries. The period is traditionally regarded as one of transition from manuscript to print, but the project emphasises that many printed texts were in fact copied in handwritten form.

For example, one research student will look at manuscript copies of printed texts, specifically at output from William Caxton, the pioneer of printing in England; other books being examined will include books which are part print and part manuscript.

Other transitions were taking place at the same time, such as a move to put into prose texts originally composed in verse, and one of the Bristol doctoral students will explore how different changes impact on each other.

The books to be studied are in research libraries, mostly from across Europe, some in British Libraries. The Bristol research students will be examining mostly texts that enjoyed broad popular appeal, such as romances and epic texts.

In addition, some of the funding will go towards internships for the doctoral researchers and towards training workshops and events which will enhance the provision of the participating institutions and the expertise of their medievalists and early modernists.

Professional development and skills training will be provided by experts of the consortium in collaboration with non-academic partners in a range of sectors that show the continuing importance and relevance of the early book in Europe today including publishers, heritage libraries and museums.

Professors Ad Putter, from Bristol’s Department of English, and Marianne Ailes from the Department of French, are Co-Directors of the University’s Centre for Medieval Studies and secured the grant.

They said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding. The main tangible outputs for the students taking part in this project will be the PhD theses, which may be turned into books.

“But just as importantly we will train a cohort of young researchers who will from the beginning for their research careers see international collaboration as integral to how they work.

“A cornerstone of the programme will be industrial placements which will give the students the transferable skills to succeed outside academe, and, for those who remain in university research, will provide skills in public engagement and impact which will stand them in good stead. The programme will culminate in an International conference and a conference book.”