May: story of the first book | News and Features

Scholars from the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Bristol have been awarded a €2.4m EU Horizon grant to train a new generation of medievalists across Europe in ancient book history .

The Marie Słodowska-Curie doctoral network entitled Re-mediating the Early Book: Pasts and Futures will fund a cohort of researchers at six universities (Bristol, Alicante, Vienna, Zürich, Antwerp and NUI Galway) to promote postgraduate research and training.

The bulk of the funding will be used to fund postgraduate research fellowships at all partner institutions, including two in Bristol.

The books studied date from the end of the Middle Ages and the very beginning of the modern era, largely from the 15and and 16and centuries. The period is traditionally seen as a period of transition from manuscript to print, but the project points out that many printed texts were in fact copied in manuscript form.

For example, a research student will examine manuscript copies of printed texts, in particular the production of William Caxton, the pioneer of printing in England; other books reviewed will include partly printed and partly manuscript books.

Other transitions were happening at the same time, such as putting texts originally composed in verse into prose, and one of the Bristol PhD students will explore the impact of different changes on each other.

The books to be studied are in research libraries, mostly across Europe, some in UK libraries. Bristol research students will primarily examine texts that enjoyed broad popular appeal, such as novels and epics.

In addition, part of the funding will go towards internships for doctoral students and workshops and training events that will strengthen the offer of participating institutions and the expertise of their medievalists and early modernists.

Professional development and professional training will be provided by consortium experts in collaboration with non-academic partners in a range of sectors that show the continued importance and relevance of antiquarian books in Europe today, including publishers, libraries heritage and museums.

Professors Ad Putter, from Bristol’s English department, and Marianne Ailes from the French department, are co-directors of the university’s Center for Medieval Studies and won the scholarship.

They said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding. The main tangible outputs for students participating in this project will be doctoral theses, which can be turned into books.

“But just as importantly, we will train a cohort of young researchers who, from the start of their research career, will see international collaboration as an integral part of the way they work.

“A cornerstone of the program will be industrial internships which will give students the transferable skills needed to succeed outside of academia and, for those who remain in academic research, will provide skills in public engagement and impact that will serve them well. . The program will end with an international conference and a conference book.