Does the medium make the message?
Written records have the power to transform the inheritance of the past into a tool for understanding the present and informing the future. Over eighty researchers in Trinity College are engaged in the study of texts and their material support, starting with the holdings of Trinity College Library and extending to collections around the world. This research theme brings the Library of Trinity College fully into the academic and educational fabric of the University.
Anna Chahoud, Theme Convener
Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Theme Events
Events and Exhibitions
The Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, 17-18 May 2018, a two-day conference in memory of Ernest Gordon Quin, organised by Damian McManus (Irish) and an exhibition of Medieval Irish Language Manuscripts, curated by Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin (Trinity College Library)
Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500, 1-28 February 2018, curated by Dr Graeme Murdock (School of Histories and Humanities) and Dr Mark Sweetman (School of English)
This exhibition draws on the rich collections held in the library and reflects on the Reformation’s impact on spreading religious diversity to the Continent and how it transformed the religious landscape across Europe and the wider world. Select images and short audio introudctions are also available on Google Arts and Culture.
Illuminating the Middle Ages, 1-28 February 2018, curated by Leanne Harrington (Trinity College Library).
The exhibition features vividly illuminated psalters, a vibrantly decorated Book of Hours, a handbook of Classical learning and a thirteen-century copy of Peter Lombard’s Sentences. An accompanying online exhibition includes images from the Book of Armagh, the sumptuously decorated Dublin Apocalypse, as well as a unique handbook for confessors.
The Early Irish Manuscripts Project, led by Susie Bioletti (Library’s Keeper of Preservation and Conservation) and Rachel Moss (History of Art)
Four early Irish manuscripts in the collection of the Library at Trinity College Dublin have been analysed, conserved and digitized as part of a year-long collaborative project supported by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project. The online exhibition is available here.
Papyri, provenance and Politics: Situating the Books of the Dead in Trinity College (MSS 1658-1676)
The Egyptian Books of the Dead are Trinity’s unique collection of papyri documenting the social, economic, cultural and religious history of Egypt from 1700 to 100 BCE. This multidisciplinary project addresses the conservation and edition of papyri, practices of collecting Egyptian artefacts in 19th century Europe, and ancient Egypt in modern imagination. The project has received seed funding by the TLRH. Project leaders: Susie Bioletti (Library), Joseph Clarke (History), John Parnell (Botany), Brian McGing (Classics).
The Fagel Collection
Purchased for Trinity College in 1802, the Fagel Collection of books, pamphlets, prints and maps was assembled over a century and a half by the Fagel family in Holland. The collection covers the period from 1460 to 1799 and is enormously rich in French, Dutch and English works on politics, religion, economics, sciences, natural history and travel. In terms of both its scope and condition, this is an invaluable resource for research across a number of disciplines. Project Leader: Jane Ohlmeyer (History).
Laughter and Revolution: Theatre, Comedy and Politics in Revolutionary France
This project draws on the 3,700 items in the Library’s 18th and 19th century French drama collection to explore the relationship between laughter and Revolutionary politics. The project has received seed funding by the TLRH. Project leaders: Joseph Clarke and Linda Kiernan (History).
Latin Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College
Collaborative project for the study and visibility of Medieval and Renaissance Latin manuscripts in the Library. The project obtained initial funding from the TLRH. Recent initiatives include the publication of the collection of essays Fabellae Dublinenses Revisited and other Essays in Honour of Marvin Colker (Hermathena 194), launched in conjunction with the Library exhibition ‘Illuminating the Middle Ages’ on 5 February 2018. Project leader: Anna Chahoud (Classics).
The Early Irish Manuscripts Project
Four early Irish manuscripts in the collection of the Library at Trinity College Dublin – the Book of Dimma, the Book of Mulling, the Garland of Howth and the Codex usserianus Primus – have been analysed, conserved and digitized as part of a year-long collaborative project supported by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project. The online exhibition featuring images, narrative and videos is available here. Project leaders: Susie Bioletti (Library’s Keeper of Preservation and Conservation) and Rachel Moss (History of Art)
The Censorship of British Theatre (1737-1843)
Drawing on manuscript collections at the British and Huntington Libraries, the Marie Sklodowska-Curie funded project The Censorship of British Theatre (1737–1843) will deliver the first integrated study of British theatre censorship between the Stage Licensing Act and the Theatres Act. The project conference was held in the Huntington Library in January 2018. Project leader: David O’Shaughnessy (English).
Private Letters as Sources for the History of Servants in Eighteenth-Century Ireland
The study of the personal letter encompasses more than the history of literacy and networking among the middle classes. It can bring to light lives otherwise effaced from the record. Servants were ubiquitous in eighteenth century Irish society yet remain difficult to find in the record; the personal letter is one of the most fruitful avenues by which this fact may be addressed. Project Leader: Jane Maxwell (Trinity College Library)
Conferences and Workshops
Charles Macklin and the Making of Georgian Theatre, 22-23 June 2018, Notre Dame London Gateway (David O’Shaughnessy, English, and Ian Newman, Notre Dame)
Poems without Poets: Editing Anonymous Poetry, 14-15 June 2018, Classics Seminar Room (Boris Kayachev, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow, and Anna Chahoud, Classics).
The Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, a two-day conference in memory of Ernest Gordon Quin, 17-18 May 2018, TLRH (Department of Irish and Celtic Languages)
Editing Ancient Latin Grammarians: Textual and Linguistic Challenges, 11 May 2018, Classics Seminar Room (Elena Spangenberg Yanes, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Classics)
New Perspectives on Heretical Discourse and Identity: the Waldensians in the Medieval and Early Modern Context, 9-10 February 2018, TLRH (Trinity Centre for Medieval and Renaissaince Studies)
Critical Editions and Editorial Practices, 27 October 2017, TLRH (Joanna Poetz, Bianca Battilocchi and Paola Orrù, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies)
Religion and Violence in France, 1500-2000, 16-17 September 2017, Classics Seminar Room (Joseph Clarke, History)
Literary Archives in the Digital Age, 7-8 July 2017 (Tim Groenland, School of English)
A Player in London, A Player in Dublin (1786), 17-18 February 2017, TLRH (David O’Shaughnessy, English)
Fagel Collection Workshop, November 2016 (Jane Ohlmeyer, History)
Politics and Print in the Early Modern Period: Hebrew Books and the Christian Imagination, 18 October 2016, Marsh’s Library (Zuleika Rodgers, Near and Middle Eastern Studies)
Inaugural Eleanor Knott Memorial Conference, 28 April 2016 (Department of Irish and Celtic Languages)
Aldines Exhibition in Edward Worth’s Library, February 2015, Worth’s Library (Elizabethanne Boran, Worth’s Library)
Teaching and Public Lectures
Beyond the Book of Kells
Public lecture series inaugurated by Mark Faulkner (English) in 2017-18 with eight public lectures on medieval manuscripts from the Library of Trinity College Dublin. In 2018-19 the lecture series will focus on the Reformation under the coordination of Mark Sweetman (English).
Out of the Ashes: Creativity, Destruction and Humanity’s Quest for Knowledge
This multiannual lecture series will mark the last phase of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries in the context of the collaborative project Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury. Coordinator: Peter Crooks (History and Beyond 2022), with the support of Manuscript Book and Print Cultures, Making Ireland, and Identities in Transformation.
New M.Phil in Medieval Studies
This new interdisciplinary MPhil programme will include three strands (Medieval History, Languages and Literatures, and Culture and Civilisation) and involve close collaboration with Trinity College Library. The course will be launched in 2019-20. Coordinators: Mark Faulkner (English) & Laura Cleaver (History of Art)
A World to Discover: Travel Writing at Trinity
The Trinity Elective undergraduate module combines an exploration of cultural encounters through travel, theoretically diversified and defined, and a journey through the records of Trinity Library. The module aims to introduce students to the methodologies applied to the analysis of travel writing in its various forms (e.g. historical narratives, autobiographical memoirs, travel fiction) and to the analysis of visual and material objects. It will be launched in 2019-20. Coordinator: Anna Chahoud (Classics).
Recent Visiting Fellows
Simona Marchesini (Verona Alteritas) Writing in Contact, Writing in Context: Messapic, Greek and Latin at Grotta Poesia Alex Alsemgeest (Independent Researcher, Rotterdam) Bibliographic Description and Analyses of the Fagel Collection in the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands
Alexander Bubb (King’s College London), The Victorian Reader (TLRH- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund Fellow)
Deborah Thorpe (York), Old Hands: A Palaeographical Study of Ageing Medieval and Early Modern Scribes (TLRH- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund Fellow)
Dr David Woodman (Cambridge), Worcester’s Chronicle
Dr Heather Pulliam (Edinburgh), Living Colour: Rethinking Insular and Carolingian Art
Dr Carol Farr, Graphic Design and Visual Art in Four Early Irish Gospel Manuscripts at Trinity College
Dr Mark Fitzgerald (DIT) Retrieving the real Frederick May
Professor Andrew Pettegree (St. Andrews), Dutch Political Pamphlets in the Fagel Collection
Prof David Fallows (Manchester), The 15th Century English Carol
Prof Michelle Brown (London), The Book of Armagh and its parallels in Armenian Sources
Professor Caroline Muessig (Bristol) The History of Stigmatization in the Middle Ages
The aim of Manuscript Book and Print Cultures Research Theme is to advance Trinity’s tradition of research excellence in the cultures of reading and writing. In our different fields we share broad research questions concerning the meaning of books as texts and objects, as heritage and consumables, as carriers of individual and collective experience, memory and knowledge. We aim to develop and share expertise in textual research methods, in conservation and scientific analysis, in approaches to book history, to media studies, and to digital humanities.
Our Key Questions:
How is experience, memory, knowledge communicated through written records? How does format affect content? What do familiar words such as ‘writing’, ‘reading’, ‘publishing’, ‘library’ mean in the digital age? Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures researchers address these questions in the home of a world-class library.
Close collaboration with Trinity Library
Project-based work with individual Project Leaders
Inclusion of early career researchers
Development of collaborative Graduate School in Manuscript, Book and Print Studies
Development of undergraduate Trinity Electives
Exchange Fellowships / Mobility Grants
Engagement in Public Humanities
Fundraising and Research Grant Applications
Our Research Strands:
Textual Studies and Editorial Practices
Reading, Readership and Reader Reception
Book History and Print Media
Relationship between textual, visual and material culture
Research in Trinity Collections
Manuscripts and Archives Abroad
Susie Bioletti, Library’s Keeper of Preservation and Conservation. Email: Susie.Bioletti@tcd.ie
Ariana Malthaner, Theme Postgraduate Representative, Irish and Celtic Languages, School of School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Maxwell, Principal Curator of the Manuscripts and Archives Library. Email: Jane.Maxwell@tcd.ie
In the Academic Year 2017-18 our Steering Committee has been so fortunate as to avail of the expertise of the two Trinity Long Room Hub Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund Fellows associated with our Theme, Alexander Bubb (School of English) and Deborah Thorpe (School of Histories and Humanities). Many thanks to both of them.
For queries or further information on the Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Theme Events research theme at Trinity College Dublin, please email the theme conveners:
Anna Chahoud, Professor of Latin, Department of Classics, School of Histories and Humanities, email@example.com
Joseph Clarke, Assistant Professor in European History, Department of History, School of Histories and Humanities, firstname.lastname@example.org