Vernacular Books and Reading Experiences in the Early Age of Print

Scientific meeting

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Begins on: Wednesday 25 August 2021.
Ends on: Friday 27 August 2021.
Related institutions: Leiden University Library
In the first 150 years of European printed book production, the new medium of print evolved from its indebtedness to manuscript culture into a full-grown means of communication and articulation. It developed its own conventions and became ever more widespread, in a geographical as well as a social sense. At the same time, the development of print culture added new impulses to the dynamic relations between Latin and the vernaculars. Already in the early decades of print, commercial printers tried to cater to as large a readership as possible, including the ‘illiterate’: those who had little to no knowledge of the Latin language. While initially the majority of titles were printed in Latin, the vernaculars gained ground as languages of arts and sciences, commerce, religion, and literary expression. Reading in the vernacular could be a matter of preference or even of intellectual statement (e.g. cha mbers of rhetoric) just as well as a matter of literacy. It was at the crossroads of the readers’ specific needs and expectations, the technical possibilities of the press, and the expert knowledge and commercial interests of the printer and/or the editor(s), compositor(s), and woodcutter(s) that vernacular reading experiences took shape.
Related keywords: early printed books, History of Reading, Reading practices