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Manuscript, Book & Print Culture

Does the medium make the message?

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? Addressing these questions in the home of a world-class library, Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures researches engage with the very ‘stuff’ of humanities.

“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 Convenor

Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Theme Events


Research Projects

The Egyptian Books of the Dead

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. Project leaders: Susie Bioletti (Library), Joseph Clarke (History), John Parnell (Botany).

Medieval Prayer Books and Personal Well-Being

With the rise of literacy from the 12th century, increasing numbers of prayers appear as additions to manuscripts, apparently as records of individuals’ hopes and desires.  As these manuscripts were adapted for personal use through the addition of imagery and annotations they reveal the complex relationships between prayer, rhetoric of the self and ideas about well-being.  Project Lea

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)

The French Revolutionary Collections (1780s-1820s)

Trinity’s French Revolution Papers (1780s–1820s) include over 13,000 uncatalogued pamphlets, decrees, newspapers, plays and memoirs. The project brings together historians, archivists and literary scholars in the production of a resource for understanding a seminal moment in the making of modern Europe. Project leader: Joseph Clarke (History).

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. Project leader: David O’Shaughnessy (English).

Theme Overview

Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures studies the cultures of reading and writing. Trinity research interrogates books as texts, as objects, as heritage and as consumables; examines practices of authoring, interpreting, publishing, collecting, buying and selling books; explores the relationship between the physical and the virtual in the 21st century; develops and shares expertise in textual research methods, in conservation and scientific analysis, in approaches to book history, to media studies, and to digital humanities.

“This research theme engages 80 researchers in 20 disciplines across Trinity’s three Faculties and the Library. Only a multi-disciplinary effort will achieve the goal of releasing the capacity of written records to transform inheritance into value for the third millennium.”


For queries or further information on the Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures Theme Events research theme at Trinity College Dublin, please email the theme convener:

Anna Chahoud, Theme Convenory
Professor of Latin, Department of Classics

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