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Sandars Lectures 2020

The Sandars Readership in Bibliography is one of the most prestigious honorary posts to which book historians, librarians and researchers can be appointed. Those elected deliver a series of lectures on their chosen subject.

The Reader for the 2020-21 series of Sandars Lectures was Dr Orietta Da Rold, who spoke on the subject of 'Paper Past and Paper Future'. Recordings of these lectures can be found on this page.

About the series: Paper Past and paper Future

Paper is so common in our everyday life that we sometimes fail to notice it. It is available in all sorts of shapes, degrees of quality and colour. We rely on paper for the quotidian and the extraordinary. We think with paper, we write with paper, we create with paper, we imagine with paper and we feel through paper. It is both ephemeral and long lasting. The digital revolution, heralding the demise of paper, turned out to be a technological evolution, and we have discovered, or perhaps are still discovering, that these two technologies can accommodate rather than compete against one another.

The arrival of paper in medieval Europe also heralded an era of technological innovation and evolution. Drawing on extensive research in Cambridge collections and beyond, Orietta Da Rold will consider the significance of this material as a commodity and particularly as the stuff of which books are made. These lectures are about the stories that medieval paper can tell. Looking differently at the books on the shelves of our libraries, paper unfolds fascinating stories of technological innovation, transnational interactions and human ingenuity. 

About the speaker:

oriettaDr Orietta Da Rold is an Associate Professor at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of St John’s College. She has published widely on medieval textual cultures and manuscript studies. She has recently published Paper in Medieval Britain: From Pulp to Fiction (CUP), which emerged from her British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, and edited the Cambridge Companion to British Manuscripts with Elaine Treharne. She is currently working on a project provisionally entitled ‘Paper in Time and Space’.

Image: Cambridge University Library, MS Kk.6.30