The Layouts of Paratexts in 16th-century Learned Books

Research Seminar

  • Online event via Zoom
  • Date: May 12, 2021
  • Time: 15:00 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Ann Blair
  • Contact: boehm@biblhertz.it
The Layouts of Paratexts in 16th-century Learned Books
Early printed books experimented with more numerous and varied kinds of paratexts than were common in medieval manuscripts, including title page, pagination, dedications, addresses to the reader, indexes and tables of contents, dichotomous diagrams, poems, prayers, privileges and permissions, authors’ portraits, errata, registers, and printers’ marks.

Elsewhere, Ann Blair has focused on the different roles of paratexts: luring buyers, aiding readers, and protecting the producers (authors and printers) from criticism. In this work in progress talk she will consider the choices made in laying out the paratexts and ponder the motivations behind common and uncommon formats, including the practical reasons for compressing or extending paratexts, the role of fonts, lines and blank spaces in guiding the reader’s attention, and the expertise involved in laying out diagrams and other complex elements. The examples will come from the works of sixteenth-century humanist authors like Erasmus (1486-1536) and Theodor Zwinger (1533-1588) working with printers in Basel, and Conrad Gessner (1516-1565) in Zurich.

Ann Blair (Harvard University) specializes in book history and early modern Europe. Her publications include The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science (1997), Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (2010), and Information: A Historical Companion (2021).


For participation via Zoom, please register HERE.

Scientific Organization: Katherine Reinhart and Oscar Seip

Go to Editor View