Between 25 and 27 August, an international and interdisciplinary conference on the topic of ‘Vernacular Books and Reading Experiences in the Early Age of Print’ takes place. The conveners are Anna Dlabačová (Leiden University) and Medieval Culture scholar Drs. Andrea van Leerdam.
In the first 150 years of European printed book production (c. 1450-1600), the new medium of print evolved from its indebtedness to manuscript culture into a full-grown means of communication and articulation. How were reading experiences shaped both by producers and users of vernacular books? Who read in the vernacular, why, and how? These are the central questions of the conference.
The participants approach reading as an embodied, material practice that is affected both by texts and their presentation, with a particular interest in the interplay between language, form and content, and between intended and actual readers. With contributions ranging from papers on Dutch, French, German to Hungarian and from prayer texts to romances, chronicles and medical handbooks, the conference covers a variety of languages, regions and genres. Thus, it aims to contribute to the next step towards a comparative study of printing strategies and users’ practices in the first 150 years of printing vernacular books in Europe.