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Book History Workshop

June 24, 2013


Book History Workshop

Programme (24-27 June 2013)

For the 10th edition of its Book History Workshop, the Lyon-based Institut d’histoire du livre is offering 3 advanced courses in the fields of book and printing history, taught by Kristian Jensen, Anne Mœglin-Delcroix with Françoise Lonardoni and Nicholas Pickwoad.

1. Course in English

Introduction to the Study of Incunabula – Kristian Jensen

The course will examine how to interpret the explicit statements contained in the books themselves about the circumstances of their production. In the absence of contemporary descriptions, however, the incunabula themselves provide the most important body evidence for how they were produced. The course will therefore examine how we can learn about the history of production through recognising and carefully interpreting the evidence with which the books as physical objects present us. This will by implication also provide some tools for recognising books which have later been “improved” or even faked. By presenting the most important catalogues of incunabula in the historical context of their creation, it emphasises their intended aims, as well as their strengths and weaknesses for specific current research purposes. Special attention will be paid to illustration, lay-out and texts; to the relationship between the various phases of production of incunabula and their end-users; we will look at hand finishing and decoration, at book distribution and types of evidence for early provenance and we will look at the impact of later collectors. At the end of the course it is hoped that the students will feel confident in identifying and interpreting the evidence presented by incunabula, using the appropriate reference tools in awareness of current research trends.

Dr Kristian Jensen is Head of Arts and Humanities at the British Library. He began his library career as an incunabulist at the Bodleian Library where he initiated and led for nine years the project which created the Bodleian Library’s incunable catalogue. Subsequently he became Head of Incunabula at the British Library. He has published extensively on incunabula focusing on issues around the history of reading, book ownership and the interrelation between intellectual needs of users and the commercial needs of producers. Most recently he publishedRevolution and the Antiquarian Book: Reshaping the Past, 1780-1815, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

2. Course in English

Inexpensive European bindings with limp covers of paper and parchment from the 1470s to the 1830s – Nicholas Pickwoad

The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will look at the many different ways in which European bookbinders from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution strove to produce ever cheaper bindings for the booktrade. The course will look in detail at the different types of inexpensive commercial bindings with limp parchment and paper covers, including laced-case, longstitch, stitched and tacketed bindings (and some with no covers at all). The possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops on bindings that are not decorated with finishing tools will be explored, as well as the means by which the comparative costs of bindings can be assessed. The different materials used to make bookbindings will be discussed, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how and where these types developed through the three and a half centuries covered by the course. The course will be taught with both extensively illustrated PowerPoint lectures and sessions in which real books are examined and discussed.

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad trained in bookbinding and book conservation with Roger Powell, and ran his own workshop from 1977 to 1989 ; he has been Adviser on book conservation to the National Trust since 1978. He taught at Columbia University in New York from 1989 to 1992 and was Chief Conservator in the Harvard University Library from 1992 to 1995. He is now project leader of the St Catherine’s Monastery Library Project based at the University of the Arts London where he is director of the Ligatus Research Centre, which is dedicated to the history of bookbinding.1815, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

3. Course in French

The artist’s book or how the book can change art (and not the inverse) – Anne Mœglin-Delcroix, in collaboration with Françoise Lonardoni

A certain confusion reigns today in the loose usage of the term “artist’s book”. Too liberally applied to any work where an artist has been involved, it fails to recognise the specificity of a radically new genre of books, born in the early 1960’s, in declared opposition to the traditional “illustrated book” and the “livre de peintre” for bibliophiles. In fact, much distinguishes them, from the physical aspects of these publications to their editorial and artistic strategies. To clarify the misunderstandings, the best way is to go back to the birth and development of the artist’s book in the 1960’s and 1970’s, demonstrating how it retains distinctive characteristics from its close relationship with the artistic avant-gardes who were, simultaneously, in the process of founding what has come to be known as “contemporary art”. The course will be divided into 4 chapters, one per day: The European and North American origins of the artist’s book; The book, medium for critic; The prominent role of the photographic image; A new bibliophilism.

Anne Mœglin-Delcroix, former student of the École normale supérieure (Paris), Ph.D., is professor emeritus of the philosophy of art at the Sorbonne (Paris I). From 1979 to 1994, she was responsible for the collection of artists’ books at the National Library of France (Prints and Photographs Department). She has curated several exhibitions on the international production of artists’ books. She is the author of several books on this subject: Livres d’artistes (Paris, Herscher & Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1985), Esthétique du livre d’artiste (Paris, BnF & Jean-Michel Place, 1997, newly rev. and exp. ed.: Paris, BnF & Marseille, Le mot et le reste, 2012), Sur le livre d’artiste. Articles et écrits de circonstance (1981-2005), Marseille, Le mot et le reste, 2006, repr. 2008.

Françoise Lonardoni studied art history. She manages the contemporary collections of the Lyon City Library, and she publishes articles on various contemporary artists. She has taken part in numerous congresses on the artist’s book and published on contemporary artists: Daniel Firman, Gabriele Di Matteo, Laurent Sfar, Fabienne Ballandras, Frédéric Khodja, Lydia Solana, Jérémy Liron, Bruno Yvonnet, Marie-Agnès Charpin….

The Institut d’histoire du livre brings together two major rare book and printing collections and three teaching and research establishments closely involved in the history of printing and the book: Lyon City library and Printing museum whose rich collections bear witness to the important role which the city has played in the world of books and printing since the 15th century; the École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques (Enssib), which is responsible for the training of library curators in France; the École normale supérieure de Lyon whose researchers are particularly active in the fields of philosophy, linguistics and literature; and the École nationale des chartes which trains future archivists and curators of historical collections. The interdisciplinary environment provided by the Institut d’histoire du livre is intended to encourage research, not only in book history, but also in the various connected fields involved in the study of written and graphic communications such as the history of technology, economic history, art history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics and information science.

Fee: 450 euros for one course (4 days)
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June 24, 2013
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Institut d’histoire du livre
Lyon, France France