Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Seminars
  3. Paper, Pen and Ink 2: Manuscript Cultures in the Age of Print

Paper, Pen and Ink 2: Manuscript Cultures in the Age of Print

Research Seminar Series

Winter 2014 and Spring-Summer 2015

Organised by The Open University’s Book History Research Group and the Institute of English Studies, University of London

Venue: Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU. Tel: 0207 8628675

Time: Mondays, 5.30-7.00pm (dates below)

About the series:

This seminar series explores some of the rich variety of manuscript texts written in England since the invention of printing. Building on the success of last year’s Book History Research Group series on early modern manuscript cultures, the seminars this year look at manuscript practice across a wider chronological range, from the sixteenth century to the present day, providing exciting opportunities for manuscripts scholars working in different periods to come together and to learn from each other. As well as analysing individual manuscripts and excavating the norms underlying different manuscript genres, speakers provide new perspectives on key topics in manuscript studies, including the relationship between manuscript and print, and consider the significance of manuscript cultures for cultural and literary history more generally.

Speakers and Schedule

Monday 2 February 2015

Wim van Mierlo (University of London)
Have We Yet Learnt to Make Manuscripts Speak? Manuscript Culture after 1700

It is now generally accepted that the invention of the printing press did not wipe out the production and distribution of manuscripts. What is often not considered is how long this manuscript culture persisted.  This paper therefore considers aspects of a continuing manuscript culture in the past 300 years. One must acknowledge (following the work of Donald Reiman) that during this period manuscripts are largely, though not exclusively, restricted to the private sphere.  This does not stop manuscripts from belonging to a larger cultural practice, however, that determines how writers use pen and paper. To elucidate these ideas I will draw on a number of examples from mainly literary authors and poets from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Venue: Room 104  (Senate House, first floor)

Monday 18 May 2015

Edmund King (Open University)
British Manuscript Cultures of the First World War

That the British volunteers and conscripts of the First World War made up the largest civilian army in the nation’s history is widely appreciated. What is less well known is the scale of the communications infrastructure necessary to keep these “citizen soldiers” in touch with the home front. Between 1914 and 1918, the British Postal Service’s Home Depot in London handled 2 billion letters and 114 million parcels addressed to soldiers serving overseas. Many of these soldiers were spending the first substantial period of time in their lives away from loved ones. Large numbers found themselves writing to parents and siblings for the very first time, learning the art of letter writing as they did so. Others for the first time in their lives started keeping diaries and journals of their day-to-day experiences. The war thus represented a kind of portal through which citizen soldiers, regardless of social status, were introduced to habits of self-recording through manuscript that had previously been largely the province of the upper and middle classes. Using specific examples drawn from soldiers’ letters and diaries, this paper will ask what it was that was unique about the manuscript cultures of the First World War.

Venue: Room 104  (Senate House, first floor)

Monday 1 June 2015

Melanie Bigold (Cardiff University)
‘‘Artefacts of the Written Word’: Antiquarian Collections, Manuscript Circulation, and Print Ephemera in the Bodleian's Ballard archives'

George Ballard (1705/6-1755) is a largely forgotten individual, but his extraordinary manuscript collections, correspondence, and printedMemoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain (1752), are testament to a productive and diverse life of writing. Ballard’s antiquarian interest in and preservation of all manner of ‘artefacts of the written word’ – whether manuscript, print, or monumental inscription – can be found in the 74 volumes of manuscripts held in the Bodleian and dozens more letters and manuscripts in the British Library. It is a collection about collections, collecting, manuscript production and circulation, collaboration, and the creation of textual lives.

He has much to tell us, therefore, about how eighteenth-century scholars conceptualized textuality and the research and writing of texts and lives. 

Venue: Room G34 (Senate House, ground floor) 

 Monday 8 June 2015

Ellen Gruber Garvey (New Jersey City University)
‘Writing with Scrapbooks: Cutting, Pasting, and Authorship’

Venue: Room G34 (Senate House, ground floor) 

Seminars held in 2014

Monday 1 December 2014

Julia Craig-McFeely (University of Oxford)
‘Lute Manuscripts and their Uses’

This paper will examine the corpus of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century lute manuscripts, looking at the reasons behind their compilation and the scribes responsible as well as, more broadly, at what these manuscripts reveal about the way in which musical instruments were taught in early modern England, who was playing them, and the purpose this skill served in social change and advancement.

Dr. Julia Craig-McFeely is Research Fellow at the Music Faculty, Oxford University, a Director of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) and an an internationally renowned expert in digital manuscript imaging. Her doctorate on early modern lute manuscripts (1994), currently available online in an extended version, is a major contribution to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century manuscript study and changed our understanding of the repertory that survives in these books. She is co-investigator on the AHRC-funded Tudor Partbooks Project.

Venue: Room 246, (Senate House)

Monday 15 December 2014

Eric Nils Lindquist (University of Maryland)
‘The Gentry and Their Manuscripts: The Case of Sir Richard Paulet (c. 1558-1614)’

In the course of a long stay in London in 1610, a Hampshire gentleman named Sir Richard Paulet purchased ‘a paire writinge tables’ , ‘2 pens for writing tables’, ’20 quirs’ of paper, ‘a trunckbox for writinges’, and ‘halfe a li of red sealing wax’.  These purchases point to the significant part that writing and manuscripts played in the life of the early modern English gentry.  Some aspects of gentry manuscript culture have been explored by scholars, but its extent and variety have not perhaps been fully appreciated.  The gentry played many roles—litigants, landowners, magistrates, religious patrons, consumers, to name some of the most important—that required various kinds of writing.  Many members of the gentry wrote frequently and extensively—the twenty quires of paper that Sir Richard Paulet purchased in 1610 probably did not last very long.  The gentry’s involvement in early modern manuscript culture has gone somewhat unnoticed in part because so many of their manuscripts have perished.  The papers of Sir Richard Paulet are a fortunate exception.  Although his papers have suffered considerable losses, a large and varied selection has survived and provides the basis for a case study.  In the first part of my paper, I will consider the varied roles of writing and manuscripts in Sir Richard Paulet’s life and career.  In the second part, I will pay particular attention to one of the manuscripts Paulet wrote probably using the purchases he made in 1610, a combination sermon and parliamentary diary that fortunately has survived.  Although different sorts of people took notes on sermons, parliamentary diaries were a manuscript genre closely associated with the gentry.  Around fifty such diaries produced between the 1570s and the 1620s survive.  They were among the most ambitious writings produced by ordinary country gentlemen without literary ambitions.  Paulet’s parliamentary diary is his longest and most complex surviving manuscript, and it required sustained, daily attention over most of a year to produce.  I will discuss why he kept it, how he compiled it, and now it compared with and differed from other parliamentary diaries of the period. 

Dr. Eric N. Lindquist has a Ph.D. in British history and is a librarian at the University of Maryland.  His main area of publication is Jacobean parliaments and he is working on an edition of the parliamentary diary of Sir Richard Paulet with a lengthy introduction.  Other research interests include early modern sermons and the writings of King James VI and I.  

Venue: Room 246, (Senate House)

Event Organiser:

Dr Jonathan Gibson, Lecturer, Department of English, The Open University

E-mail: jonathan.gibson@open.ac.uk