The Creation of the Modern English Page (and Book!)

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Event Series Event Series: Evening Lectures

The Creation of the Modern English Page (and Book!)

November 30, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


The Creation of the Modern English Page (and Book!)

by Professor Richard Wendorf FSA

Building on the publication of my book ‘Printing History and Cultural Change’ (OUP, 2022), I propose to focus on the development of the modern English page during the central decades of  the eighteenth century.  In London – but also in Dublin and the American colonies – the heavily capitalized and italicized texts of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries slowly began to appear in their modern guise, with standardized capitalization, quotation marks, use of italics and caps and small caps, and title pages – and with the disappearance of the long ‘s.’  I chart this movement through visual examples as well as a table that reflects my scrutiny of over 2,000 books published in London between 1740 and 1780.

I also consider the relationship of this ‘New Style’ of printing to the earliest examples of printing in Britain, focusing on the development of the Bible during the early modern period.  I then widen my focus a great deal by asking why these changes occurred during this particular period in the eighteenth century.  To answer this question, I examine a number of other crucial changes in the cultural sphere: the publication of Johnson’s dictionary (1755), the reform of the calendar (1752), and the imposition of house numbers in London (1762), all of which indicate a cultural movement towards refinement, regularity and standardization.  I conclude with several quotations – two from the eighteenth century, two from the twentieth – that provide a final spark to the argument I have been making.

This event will be both in person at Burlington House and online. Please select the appropriate ticket below.

Attendance at Burlington House:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • Places in person will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 17.00 GMT. Please arrive in plenty of time.
  • Tea/Coffee is served from 16.30 GMT.
  • Registration is essential for non-Fellows but we encourage Fellows to register as well.
  • Fellows must ensure they sign the guest book and sign their guests in.

The schedule for the evening if attending in person:

  • Refreshments are served from 16.30 GMT in the council room.
  • The meeting begins at 17.00 GMT with the lecture starting at approximately 17.10 GMT.
  • Lectures run for approximately 45min and are followed by a short Q&A.
  • Sherry is served in the Foyer following the lecture.

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • The event will be live-streamed to YouTube here
  • The event will begin at 17.00 GMT.
  • You will receive an email reminder with the link to join the day before the lecture.

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If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected]

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November 30, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm