The Renaissance Society of America gathered between 30 March and 1 April at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago for their 63rd annual conference. The event attracted over 2500 scholars from a wide range of disciplines. The event boosted around 700 panels, held over the course of three days.
Our own panel, titled Printing Without Borders: Transfer in the Early Modern Book World touched upon aspects of mobility in the world of Early Modern printing. Charlotte Kempf from the University of Heidelberg opened up the panel with a study on the monastic printers in France during the incunabula period. Her paper highlighted the programme strategies that made printing in monasteries viable and uncovered, how printers began to branch out and started to supply books with an appeal that would reach beyond the walls of the monastery. Julius Morche from the University of Durham undertook a comparative study of cases of censorship in mediaeval China and the clandestine printing activities of Robert Estienne in the sixteenth century. My own contribution traced how printers in towns with a German minority in Eastern and Northern Europe produced German language newspapers in the seventeenth century. All three contributions were exceptionally well received. The audience responded with
The amount of sessions focussing on the history of the book was truly impressive; not least because the conference catered for a cross-disciplinary audience comprising historians, art historians, literature scholars and philosophers. Those who shared an interest in the book could find in each of the five daily sessions at least one panel that would cater to their interests. Those panels with a special focus on the book paid attention to aspects of special genres such as manuals of prayer books, the typography, material aspects, printing in various regions and towns as well as the impact of the book.
The annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America has been a fantastic opportunity to test the some of the conclusions of my own research. I have got in touch with a number of scholars who, each in his/her own way, contributed to the way I think about the subject of newspaper printing in the Early Modern period. Last but not least the conference was a great opportunity to meet old friends and get to know new people. I am deeply grateful for the support I have received from the Renaissance Society of America and the Royal Historical Society that helped me covering the fees and costs.