Welcome to Print Exchanges! We hope that this will become a lively and supportive network of print scholars working in the late medieval and early modern periods. As cofounders, we thought it might be helpful to each say a little about why we think this is a good idea in the hope that you will agree and join us!
Alex da Costa: I trained as a medievalist, but my work tends to focus on incunables and early sixteenth-century printing. It can mean that I feel like ‘neither fish nor fowl’ as my research doesn’t always speak perfectly to the concerns of either medieval or early modern conferences, as I’m either working on material that is too late or too early! I’m also as interested in history, politics, and commerce as I am in literature. So I hope that this network will be one way for me and other print scholars to make connections and share work in a way less defined by periods and disciplines. I’m also eager for conversations with others working in the field that are about ongoing work, rather than the kind of finished and perfected work that we publish or present at most conferences; to be able to think aloud with others about possible approaches to research problems and to share in the excitement of others also feeling their way towards answers.
Devani Singh: My interest in print grows out of my background as a medievalist trained in the study of literary manuscripts, and a desire to explore and understand what happens to ideas about books after print becomes widespread in England. My work bridges a few areas which have traditionally been opposed in scholarship (manuscript and print culture, as well as the medieval and early modern eras) and emphasises the continuities and accommodations between the two media and periods. I hope that this network, which foregrounds the idea of exchange, will bring me into conversation with others who are also interested in understanding print’s role within a broader cultural and historical landscape. Given that this group comes into being at a time of uncertainty and isolation for many in our field, I welcome the opportunity to be part of a scholarly network which encourages mutual support and collaboration.
Aditi Nafde: Like Alex and Devani, I am also a medievalist with a background in literary manuscripts. My work has meandered since then, both forward to print and back to manuscripts, and my current research explores the impact of the printing press on the production, development, and use of manuscripts after c.1450. As such, it crosses periods and defined research areas. This network provides an ideal space for conversations that cross boundaries and fill gaps. At a time where we’re increasingly under pressure to publish and obtain research funding, I’m particularly excited by the opportunity to put aside time to share new or unpolished ideas and to develop them in discussion with others. One of the strengths of the network is its informality, which I hope will encourage collaboration, support ongoing projects, and foster new ones.