11 October 2019 from 09:30 to 16:00

UCMS Seminar on Premodern Reading Cultures

How to work with Sammelbände? Understanding the Van Buchell collection

The yearly UCMS Seminar will take place on October 11th. As last year, it will be devoted to the theme of Premodern Reading Cultures, around the specific object of 16th century Sammelbände and particularly one collection of books kept at the Special Collections of the Utrecht University Library. The workshop is equally accessible and interesting to people who did not participate to the 2018 Seminar. Both seminar and workshop are organised by Dr Katell Lavéant (Medieval Culture) and Ann-Marie Hansen.


Sammelbände, that is to say volumes of printed texts created at the request of their buyers, were a ubiquitous phenomenon in in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. Such volumes brought together several books in order to save on costs during the binding process, and to create collections of texts that had a coherence for their owners, whether because of their content, their language or other specific features. In 2019, Sammelband 15-16, a project devoted to the study of this phenomenon, is launching a special collaboration with Utrecht University’s Library, as it hosts a unique collection, the Huybert van Buchell collection, containing hundreds of such Sammelbände. Studying this collection not only offers a window into the world of a premodern mind, through the books this scholar read and annotated, but also adds to our knowledge of the cultural life and book circulation in Utrecht and Cologne.

Dr. Katell Lavéant
Dr. Katell Lavéant

different disciplines

Because they can be studied from so many angles, Sammelbände are of interest for scholars of many disciplines, from Antiquity to the early modern period. They touch on topics as diverse as the reception of Ancient authors in later periods; the material features of the Sammelbände that inform us on medieval and early modern binding practices; the rescue of medieval fragments preserved in the bindings; premodern reading practices (annotating books, claiming ownership, circulating books in a network of readers). Another crucial question lies in the way we can use digital humanities to make these items more accessible to a large audience, with a system of digitisation and of description of the volumes in library and research databases.


The one-day seminar will consist of papers around the van Buchell collection and other examples and perspectives that will allow reflecting on the new methodologies and tools we can use to study these objects. There will also be a presentation of books from the Van Buchell collection. RMA students and PhD students affiliated to the graduate schools Onderzoekschool Mediëvistiek and Huizinga Instituut can receive 1 EC for attending the Seminar and writing a synthesis of what they will have observed and learned during the day.


The programme is available here.

Start date and time
11 October 2019 09:30
End date and time
11 October 2019 16:00
Entrance fee
Free entrance