Conference report by our associated scholars Stefanie Lethbridge and Corinna Norrick-Rühl
International conference, organised by Evanghelia Stead, EURIAS Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Albert-Ludwig-Universität Freiburg
The weather was great. The food was splendid. The people were worth talking to. The papers presented interesting insights. What more can you want from a conference?
Evanghelia Stead, EURIAS Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS) from 2014-15, successfully took up the cudgels on behalf of print culture studies in Germany and brought together print culture scholars from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Britain to share recent explorations in the link between print production and cultural practice(s). The programme ranged from investigations in late medieval/early Renaissance devotional aids (Henrike Manuwald and Henrike Lähnemann) all the way to a recent graphic novel adapted from a lesser-known novel by Anthony Trollope by Simon Grennan (David Skilton). Along the way we were presented with enlightening findings on medieval and humanistic books (Guyda Armstrong, Ralph Häfner, Michael Stolz), the fascinating results of detective work on the surprising scribe of numerous manuscripts in the Leipzig University Library (Christoph Mackert), an exploratory paper about reciting printed and handwritten (religious) texts (Anja Grebe), the connection between cultural practices and specific print products (Stefanie Lethbridge, Barbara Korte), the impact of illustrations on the reception, reinterpretation and modernisation of fairy tales (Alfred Messerli, Giorgi Bacci), on Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du mal (Hélène Védrine) as well as on Arthur Schnitzler in translation (Norbert Bachleitner). The multiplication of images in paintings, prints and re-prints were traced by Alberto Milano and Christina Kuhli. Corinna Norrick-Rühl focussed on the less frequently discussed role of distribution networks in cultural practices in her paper on Book Sales Clubs.
The conference dinner offered a wonderful chance for conversation in a simply gorgeous environment with a view of the town from aloft the Freiburg Schlossberg. It probably goes without saying, but this conference made it clear, once more, how rich and rewarding the investigation of material and cultural practices in connection with processes of reading and interpretation can be. With some luck the connections forged at this conference will help to continue along the lines that Evanghelia set. A look at the tweets associated with the conference hashtag #booksFRIAS on Twitter can give those interested another impression of the topical diversity at the conference. Furthermore, Evanghelia is currently exploring possibilities for publication of the proceedings – an interdisciplinary and multilingual publication which will certainly offer ample materials for discussion and discovery.