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Called “the nightmare of book collectors” by John Carter and Nicolas Barker, facsimiles do not hold a particularly revered position in bibliography and book history. The opposite of the venerated “original,” facsimiles are seen as a compromise at best and a downright deception at worst. This talk looks to re-examine the idea of the facsimile by exploring its pre-history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Before the invention of lithography and photography in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (not to mention current advances in digital reproduction), scholars and printers employed creative technical strategies to reproduce the visual qualities of particular textual artefacts like inscriptions or manuscripts. Exploring a few case studies, this talk will think about how and why early print copied material objects that came before – and, in the process, rethink and expand our understanding of what facsimile means.

Speaker: Jane Raisch, Lecturer, Department of English and Related Literatures,
Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, University of York (UK)

This lecture is part of the Book History Colloquium series.

Event Contact Information: 
Sean Quimby
212-852-2232
smq2109@columbia.edu