The distribution of the classics in the incunabula period

Craig, Michelle Helen (2017) The distribution of the classics in the incunabula period. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


A fundamental component of the European Renaissance is its rediscovery of lost
classical texts, the re-examination and reinterpretation of the traditional classics curriculum,
and the integration of ideas from classical philosophy, scientific theory and literary form into
early modern statesmanship, scholarship and artistic and literary culture. It has long been
argued therefore, that the ideas of classical authors were fundamental in the creation of Early Modern Europe. Very few studies, however, have considered the importance of the methods behind the diffusion of Greco-Roman literature. This thesis - using a well catalogued sample of early printed books, the Glasgow University Library’s incunabula collection - examines each individual volume as a material object, evaluating it in terms of production concerns, reader response, and the book marketplace more generally. In doing so it not only sheds further insight into the books within Glasgow University Library’s collection but also into the material importance of this important group of texts in early modern Europe.

This is first of all achieved by forming a sample of all Glasgow University’s
classical texts. Using a combination of extant literature, the ISTC, and books within the
sample, geographical trends are uncovered. Other chapters examine the books within Glasgow University Library’s collection as material objects in order to ascertain the manner that they were produced or used.

Aside from the classical ideas themselves, this thesis suggests that it is through examining the geographical spread, production and use of classical incunabula that we can appreciate the materiality of books in early modern Europe. It proposes that it was a genre in which printers could freely innovate and begin to experiment in language choice, production quality and intended readership, and as such, may have lain the foundations for the greater
diversification of the European print market in the sixteenth century. In doing so, this thesis
recommends that not only the reception of ideas in the early modern period be studied, but
also their method of diffusion. In examining the material object alongside an appreciation of
the importance of the textual content, new insight can be shed on importance of the genre in
the period.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: incunabula, classics, materiality, Early Modern, printers, readers.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Munck, Professor Thomas
Date of Award: 2017
Embargo Date: 30 October 2021
Depositing User: Ms Michelle Craig
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8553
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2017 11:07
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2020 09:36

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