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Cambridge University Library

Sandars Lecture 3 2022

Lecture 3 - Reassessing the European Printing Revolution, forty years after Eisenstein

The detailed examination of books, ledgers, and historical library catalogues, the implementation of digital technologies, and long-term international collaboration are not only bringing to light rich and often unexpected stories, but also substantially challenging and redefining the accepted narrative of the European printing revolution.

About the series

Incunabula in Cambridge: European heritage and global dissemination

The development of printing in Western Europe was not just a technological innovation; its profound social and economic impact ushered into the Continent the transition from a medieval to an early modern society, a phenomenon which was analysed in different ways by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, L’apparition du livre (Paris 1958) and by Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (CUP, 1979). For the last twenty years, an international network of scholars and librarians coordinated by Professor Cristina Dondi has been uncovering the historical evidence for the seismic impact of the European printing revolution preserved in the many thousands of surviving incunabula (books printed between the 1450s and 1500). Harnessing the tools of the digital revolution is also allowing us to reconstruct virtually, and understand, the dispersal and formation of European and American book collections over the intervening centuries. Incunabula in Cambridge libraries, including Sandars’ own collection, will be set in the wider context of where they came from, and their connections with other collections around the world. 

About the speaker 

Cristina Dondi is Professor of Early European Book Heritage, and Oakeshott Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. She is also Secretary of the Consortium of European Research Libraries. During the period 2014-2019 she was the Principal Investigator of the 15cBOOKTRADE Project, funded by the European Research Council, whose results were shared with the general public in an exhibition held in Venice in 2018/19 and now online at She is the editor of Printing R-Evolution and Society 1450-1500. Fifty Years that Changed Europe (Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2020), and co-editor (with D. Raines and R. Sharpe) of How the Secularization of Religious Houses Transformed the Libraries of Europe, 16th–19th Centuries (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022). 

Attending this lecture

This lecture is free and open to all - booking required. The event will take place in Robinson College’s Umney Theatre in Cambridge and will be simultaneously live-streamed via Zoom. Tickets may be booked either to attend in-person or to watch online. The lectures will also be recorded and made available online. 

Location: Hosted in-person Robinson College, Umney Theatre, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9AN

TicketsCLICK HERE to register to attend Lecture 3 in-person (you need to book tickets for each Sandars lecture you wish to attend in-person. E.g. registering for Lecture 1 will not also register you for Lecture 2 and 3)

Live-streamCLICK HERE to register to watch Lecture 3 via live-stream (you need to register each Sandars lecture you wish to attend via live-stream. E.g. registering for Lecture 1 will not also register you for Lecture 2 and 3)

Other lectures in the seriesLecture 1, Lecture 2

Date: Thursday 24 November 2022

5pm to 6pm