The international open-access Material Evidence of Incunabula (MEI) database, created in 2009 to record and search the material evidence from the fifteenth-century printed books (incunabula), today brings together 318 libraries from different countries and contains 57323 copies of the incunabula described.
Book distribution in the fifteenth century was a key factor in the success of the new technology of printing. Nevertheless, it is rather impossible to document book circulation by examining only individual volumes or using printed catalogs. All MEI contributors conduct so-called provenance research, which consists of collecting, comparing, and dating material evidence (ownership marks, marginal notes, bindings, underlinings, notes made during reading, etc.) left by subsequent readers in the fifteenth-century books. The data obtained during such kind of research and uploaded to MEI allows to capture the impact of the new technology on early modern European society and to reveal how knowledge in the form of printed volumes reached consumers. The same data can also help to reconstruct the dispersed book collections and to understand the movement of books in time and space from their creation in the second half of the fifteenth century to the modern times. The most frequently printed books in the fifteenth century were theological works, together with law books and classical literature. It is therefore no surprise that theology is one of the dominant subjects of incunabula preserved in the University of Warsaw Library collection.
About the Webinar
During the webinar Martyna Osuch will present, on the example of fifteenth-century theological works from the University of Warsaw Library, how can we use the MEI to track the fates of a particular volume. The aim of the seminary will be to familiarize participants with the advantages of the database usable for researchers from diverse disciplines and to demonstrate the ways how it can provide new data to scientific fields such as: book history, social and cultural history (sociology of literature), literary studies and history of science.
Start: 16.00 h UTC + 2
to the online (Zoom) meeting. The meeting will be recorded.
About Martyna Osuch
Martyna Osuch is a classicist who is working as a special collections’ librarian in the Early Printed Books Department of the University of Warsaw Library. She is also a doctoral candidate of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral School at the same university, preparing a thesis on 16th century guidebooks to Rome. She is also carrying out provenance research involving the description of material evidence found in early printed books (especially incunabula and sixteenth century editions). She has published in prominent Polish academic journals like Terminus or Prace Filologiczne. Literaturoznawstwo. She is also a recipient of a CERL Internship grant 2019/2020.
Visual: University of Warsaw Library