Dr Cynthia Johnston & Dr Elizabeth Savage
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

Around 1455, Johannes Gutenberg printed the first book in the west. The Gutenberg Bible is celebrated as a watershed moment for religious, cultural, and intellectual history. But how did Gutenberg produce it? Were his press, ink recipe, and metal type derived from earlier craft practice? How was this new technology received? How did it spread? And how modern technologies help us to understand it? This interdisciplinary, introductory course provides an overview of incunabula (Latin: cradle, swaddling clothes, birthplace), or material printed in the first 50 years of the press, c.1450–1500. Through lectures, object sessions, and hands-on practical reconstructions at a historically appropriate printing press, participants will learn how printing transformed—or maintained—conventional methods of communication. Discussions will be based on the close analysis of many kinds of content, including text, illustrations, devotional imagery, and scientific and medical information, and cutting-edge research methods.  Participants will obtain a clear understanding of the development of early printing in western Europe, and through observation of historic printing presses and the examination of internally renowned collections of incunabula in London, they will gain understanding of the physical processes involved in the manufacture of these objects.