Size Matters: Early Modern Paper in Cross-Cultural Contexts

Trade card of Jollivet, stationer ©Trustees of the British Museum

This project seeks to build a research network to examine paper surfacing methods to receive ink in the early modern period.

Before printing or writing ink meets paper, the writing surface requires preparation - sizing with a gelatinous substance - in order that the ink does not sink and feather. Recent research by one of our global partners, Professor Joshua Calhoun (University of Wisconsin-Madison) has revealed that there are anomalies in the surfacing techniques of the period which require further examination and analysis.

The workshop initiates discussions between scholarly partners across the globe, setting a research agenda which will lead to a future funding bid for a cross-disciplinary project based at UCL. This will be to extend knowledge of cultural exchange between Europe and the Ottoman Empire as well as furthering our understanding of how books can be considered as technological objects and hybrid materials. In particular, we will be examining differences between the animal substrates of European paper and the cellulose-base for the Islamic paper, and how this might affect the contemporary reading and annotation experience.

The schedule for the workshop can be downloaded by clicking here [PDF]. 

You can read a report of the workshop’s activities by Robyn Adams here [PDF].

Tweets from the workshop recording the day have been gathered together at Storify.