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Speaker:  Dr. Goran Proot, Mechelen, Belgium

Date / Time:  Friday, March 8th, 2019, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Location:  Room 1007, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Ave

 

Abstract: In this lecture, Dr. Proot will describe transitions in the design of handpress books from the Southern Netherlands over more than three centuries from 1473 to about 1800. The analysis of a wide range of typographical features both on title pages and inside the book proper shows minute changes which accumulated over long time-spans. The impact of those changes becomes clearly visible when large volumes of data are compared and presented statistically. While important transitions can be distinguished in the total body of evidence, shifts from old to new design paradigms often remain hidden at the item level. Based on the analysis of large datasets, Dr. Proot will argue that it is possible to describe and define precisely design features of books produced in the late medieval, Renaissance, baroque, and neo-classicist periods. At the same time, however, book design seems to some extent to escape rigid periodization, because design paradigms were fluid. At a surface level, continuous changes in design may be considered as innocent or superficial fashions. However, on closer examination, a fundamental change in book design took place during the seventeenth century. Dr. Proot will show how societal changes spurred alterations in book design, and how, by way of a positive feedback loop, innovations in book design helped change society. He will conclude his lecture with a theory of typographical evolution, which helps to explain the meaning and impact of this cultural phenomenon better. Since few theories have been proposed to explain the transition in design, there is much at stake in this field of research.

 

Goran Proot obtained his PhD in Language and Literature at the University of Antwerp with a dissertation about Jesuit theater in the Southern Netherlands from 1575 to 1773. He has been director of the Short Title Catalogue Flanders project (STCV), a major bibliographical initiative documenting all pre–1801 hand-press books published in Flanders. Dr. Proot is editor-in-chief of the book history journal De Gulden Passer, and he is president of the Flanders Book Historical Society. He was the curator of rare books at Antwerp University Library and in 2012, he was appointed as the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Rare Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Two years later, he moved to the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, where he directed the digital library and the conservation laboratory. In November 2016, he joined the EMo Book Trade research project, funded by the European Research Council, about the 16th-century book trade, directed by Angela Nuovo, Università di Udine, Italy. He recently became Curator at Cultura Fonds Library in Dilbeek, a private library near Brussels owned by the investment group De Eik. Dr. Proot holds teaching positions at KASK, School of Arts in Ghent, where he teaches history and theory of graphic design, and at the Plantin Institute of Typography in Antwerp, where he teaches book history. In his current research, he is surveying book prices during the century from 1555 to 1655 based on evidence found in the archives of Christopher Plantin and his successors at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, in addition to French printed bookseller’s catalogues. Dr. Proot is a recognized scholar on the layout and design of pre–1801 handpress books.

 

The Information Management Public Lectures give attention to exciting advances in research and professional practice. The topics are diverse reflecting the importance and global extent of Information Management in today’s society. The lectures are open to all members of the Dalhousie campus and surrounding community. Click here for the full schedule. We encourage you to attend in person, but if that is not possible you can access a recording on our website following the lecture. Live streaming is not currently available.