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Dr Dennis Duncan

Reader indexes in printed books

Dr Duncan writes of his fellowship project: For the last few years, I have been working on a history of the back-of-book index, which emerged during the early thirteenth century and which now competes with other, digital, technologies for searching texts. I want to include a chapter about the way that readers, historically, have often annotated their own books with indexes on the flyleaves. However, because cataloguing practices tend to provide only the most cursory information about marginalia, tracking down a significant corpus of these reader indexes has been a problem. In the UL, however, the Adv. (for Adversaria) classmark, created in the late nineteenth century, brings together several thousand books whose common characteristic is that they have all been heavily marked up by readers. During my time as Munby Fellow, I am working through the two long Adv. shelves in the Rare Books stacks, looking at annotation from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, and paying particular attention to the MS indexes.


Munby Application details

The Fellowship is normally advertised each December for a post beginning in October the following year. Applications are currently being sought for the 2023-24 Munby Fellowship. The closing date is 22 January 2023.