The Novel in the Age of Amazon


MARK McGURL (Stanford University) will be talking about EVERYTHING AND LESS:THE NOVEL IN THE AGE OF AMAZON

THURSDAY 4th JUNE at 5.30pm


Mark McGurl is the author of, among other works, a much discussed and lauded recent book, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (2009)

‘Magisterial’ (Fredric Jameson)

‘It is a cliché to say that a book so changes your view of a particular historical period or problem that you never see it the same old way again. But this is the kind of book that warrants such praise.’ (Jim English)

CMT Material-Textual Breakfast


Wednesday 13 May, 9-10.30 am
Social Space, English Faculty

Please join us in the Social Space on the ground floor of the English Faculty for the first ever CMT material-textual-breakfast. This is an opportunity to meet people, to discuss current projects and to firm up plans for the future. Grab a coffee from the ARB (or wherever) and come over. Freshly baked cakes will be provided!

Early Modern Visual Marginalia colloquium


visualmarginalia1 May 2015, 09:30 – 13:00

Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall

Colloquium fee: £5 – includes refreshments
Sign-up deadline: Wednesday 29 April 2015

Covenor: Dr Alexander Marr


Professor William Sherman (V&A)
Dr Julian Luxford (St Andrews)
Dr Alexander Marr (Cambridge)
Dr Kate Isard (Visiting Scholar, Cambridge)
Dr Richard Oosterhoff (Cambridge)
Dr Francesco Benelli (Columbia)


A colloquium on early modern visual marginalia organised by Department of History of Art, Trinity Hall, University Library, University of Cambridge.

Sponsored by Department of History of Art; University Library; Centre for Material Texts.

For further information please click here.

CUL incunabula masterclass


On Friday 20th March 2015, Cambridge University Library will be holding a further masterclass as part of the Incunabula Project.

The masterclass, entitled “Rubrication and fifteenth-century English printing” will be led by Satoko Tokunaga of Keio University & Takako Kato of De Montfort University.

The seminar will be held in the Sir Geoffrey Keynes Room at the Library. It will start at 2.30pm and will last approximately 90 minutes, allowing time for questions and discussion. Attendance will be limited in order to allow all attendees a chance to see the books under discussion up close, and to participate in the discussion.

To book a place, please email <>.

CMT flash seminar: Randall McLeod


Friday 27 June 2014, SR 24, Faculty of English, 12.30-2

Randall McLeod (University of Toronto)

‘The Birth of Italics’

Randall McLeod’s lecture details the printing of the first book in italics, Aldo Manuzio’s 1501 Vergil, with type created for him by Francesco da Bologna. McLeod will offer not a reading of Vergil, but a reading of Book.  Printing began before the fount was complete, and the coming on stream of a dozen ligatures during production reveals the printing schedule: it was not in the narrative order imposed on the book by binding.  Aldo’s schedule is rendered even more precise by readings of the blank tops and bottoms of some pages (as the title page or colophon), for often they are not really blank, but are printed with type, like the other parts of these pages, but printed blind — that is, without ink. What do these invisible texts say?  Why are they present? And where do they come from?



Kindred Britain: A Skype Seminar with Nicholas Jenkins (Stanford)


Monday, 2 June 2014, 17:00 – 18:30

Location: CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building

This Skype meeting with Nicholas Jenkins, creator of ‘Kindred Britain‘, will offer participants an opportunity to reflect on the project and to consider the potential of digital work to transform our understanding of histories and cultures. Organised by the Digital Humanities Network and the Centre for Material Texts.

Kindred Britain is a network of nearly 30,000 individuals — many of them iconic figures in British culture — connected through family relationships of blood, marriage, or affiliation. It is a vision of the nation’s history as a giant family affair. For example, see how Jane Austen was related to Virginia Woolf or Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde.

Nicholas Jenkins is associate professor of English at Stanford University, specializing in the study of modern and contemporary poetry.

Participation in the seminar is free but spaces are limited. If you would like to come, please register in advance by clicking on the online registration link here. Participants are asked to spend some time exploring the ‘Kindred Britain’ site in preparation for seminar discussion. You should consult Jenkins’s online essay “Originating Kindred Britain”.

Cambridge Incunabula Masterclasses


This term Cambridge University Library will be holding two masterclasses as part of the Incunabula Project.

The first masterclass, entitled “Incunabula from Bavaria – how to identify provenances and reconstruct 15th-century collections”, will be led by Bettina Wagner, of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich.

The German state of Bavaria was not only a region where presses were set up soon after the invention of printing in Mainz, but also the site of some major collections of printed books. Many monasteries and some private owners built up substantial libraries in the 15th century, benefitting from a dense trade network and well-established connections to Italy. However, as a result of auctions and the dissolution of monasteries in the early 19th century, many books from Bavaria were dispersed and have ended up in collections in the UK and other countries. In order to reconstruct these historical collections, painstaking work is necessary. Marks of provenance and bindings have to be documented and identified, and archival records must be analyzed. The masterclass will introduce participants to the techniques and tools used for such research and thus help to place incunabula from the ULC’s collections into the wider context of late mediaeval collection building and book usage.

The seminar will be held in the Milstein Seminar Rooms at the Library on Tuesday, 4 February at 2.30 pm.

The second masterclass, entitled “Libri sine asseribus – incunables in early bindings without wooden boards”, will be led by Nicholas Pickwoad, director of the Ligatus Research Centre at the University of the Arts, London.

The standard image of the fifteenth-century book is of a large volume with wooden boards covered in white or brown skin, tooled in blind, with metal furniture, clasps and possibly a chain shackle. This is also the book that appears in contemporary painting and sculpture and became so fixed in the popular imagination that it survived as the symbol of the bible in trade signs right through to the eighteenth century, if not beyond. There were, however, other types of binding that were used by the booktrade to give cheap, lightweight protection to books as they moved through the book trade. Whilst not necessarily intended to be temporary, few have survived today and reconstructing their history is difficult. Enough however have come down to us to allow a picture of the rich diversity of binding types used for this purpose to be created and to give an indication of how they were presented to their first owners.

This seminar will be held in the Keynes Room at the Library on Tuesday 18 February at 2.30pm .

Both seminars will last approximately 90 minutes, allowing time for questions and discussion. Attendance will be limited in order to allow
all attendees a chance to see the books concerned up close, and to participate in the discussion.

To book a place on either seminar, please email<>.

China Research Seminar


Wednesday 29 January 2014

Dr. Fei-Hsien Wang (Centre for History and Economics & Magdalene College, U. of Cambridge)

‘Hunting Pirates in Beijing: Shanghai Booksellers’ Private ‘Copyright’ Police (1930-1937)’

All seminars take place on Wednesdays (unless otherwise arranged) at 5pm in rooms 8 & 9 in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Tea will be served at the same venue at 4:45pm. All are welcome.

CUL exhibition: Printing Colour in Tudor England


Cambridge University Library’s Entrance Hall cases are hosting what is believed to be the first ever exhibition of colour printmaking in Tudor England, 1485-1603. These brightly printed pictures transform our understanding of the spread of technologies of visual communication in the English Renaissance. The exhibition is curated by Dr Elizabeth Upper and presents aspects of her research as the 2012/13 Munby Fellow of Bibliography at Cambridge University Library.

The exhibition can be viewed during Library opening hours until 18 January 2014. See and, for further information,


Calls for Papers, Events;

Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, 30 June – 2 July 2014

Under the auspices of the Centre for Material Texts

Writing Britain is a biannual event which aims to draw on a range of approaches and perspectives to exchange ideas about manuscript studies, material culture, multilingualism in texts and books, book history, readers, audience and scribes across the medieval period. The 2014 iteration of the Writing Britain Conference will take place in the English Faculty at the University of Cambridge under the auspices of the Centre for Material Texts. Some of the topics which we are keen to explore are literary and non-literary agencies and their significance and/or relevance in the medieval period across British medieval written culture in English, French, Latin, Norse and the Celtic languages. More broadly, we are interested in other questions such as: How did local writers, compilers and readers use writing to inscribe regional identity within broader conventions or, on the other hand, impress ‘universal’ practices and constructs on local populations? What were the different markets for books? Can we characterize their developments and differences? What new or existing methodologies can be employed to localise texts and books across Britain? What is the role of the Digital Humanities in the study of medieval book culture?

Plenary speakers: Jonathan Wilcox (University of Iowa), Richard Beadle (University of Cambridge) and Simon Horobin (University of Oxford)

We welcome proposals from scholars working on any aspects of British medieval written culture up to 1500. Please visit our conference web site in order to submit an abstract (300 words or fewer) for a twenty-minute paper. Please send your abstract by 20 February 2014. Abstracts from postgraduate students are welcome and graduate rates will be provided. For further information please visit the website where contact details of the organisers will also be available.

Conference website: