Call for Contributions
Editors: Giles Bergel (Oxford), Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies)
Advisory board: Sven Dupré (Utrecht), Caroline Duroselle-Melish (Folger), Maria Goldoni (‘Xilografie modenesi’), Paul Nash (Printing Historical Society), Marco Mozzo (Polo museale della Toscana)
In all fields based on historical printed material, research conventionally focuses on the text, images, and other information that was printed. The objects used to produce that information (including cut woodblocks, engraved metal plates, and cast metal sorts) have been neglected. Many hundreds of thousands of these historical printing surfaces survive today. The vast majority are inaccessible to researchers because they are uncatalogued and often considered ‘uncatalogue-able’. However, as individual objects and as an untapped category of cultural heritage, these artefacts of printing offer a great deal of information that the finished prints, books, fabrics, and other printed materials do not.
As relics of historical crafts and industry, these objects fall outside the modern disciplines. This edited volume will respond to the need for a multidisciplinary introduction to what image-based fields calls ‘print matrices’ and text-based fields call ‘printing surfaces’. Following from the conference Blocks Plates Stones (London, 2017), the first facilitated discussion of the use of such objects in research, Printing Things will represent the state of research in this new and developing field. It will bring together object-based research, collection-level surveys, historical printing practices, ethical considerations of their storage and use (or non-use) today, methods for multiplying the originals (eg dabs, stereos, electros), and methodological studies. By doing so, it will offer frameworks for describing, conserving, curating, presenting and understanding these objects using new and existing paradigms. It aims to facilitate their introduction into historical research across the disciplines.
Contributions are sought from art historians, book historians, cultural historians, musicologists, science and medicine historians, typographers, and researchers in other fields based on historical printed material; material scientists and conservators; historically informed printers and printmakers; curators, cataloguers, librarians, and printing museum managers who care for these objects; and digital humanities specialists who are creating a new generation of tools for culling information from these objects. The book will focus on handpress work.
In addition to object- and collection-based case studies, theoretical perspectives might include:
– What can print matrices/printing surfaces teach us that printed materials cannot, and vice versa?
– How should they be regarded: as artists’ tools; intermediary states of works of art; or works of art in themselves?
– Is there a value in considering woodblocks, metal plates, and litho stones together as a single category?
– What lies behind the sudden and recent increase in interest in these objects, and how can these objects inform those emerging research trends?
– How are they to be conserved, curated, presented and understood?
– Does the recent turn to object-centered cultural criticism (‘thing theory’) provide useful paradigms for their study?
– What are the ethical and critical issues around bringing them back into use as printing surfaces?
– What is their place within the systems of digital remediation and knowledge within which art and book history is increasingly practiced?