Call for Papers: Baskerville in France

Closing date for proposals: 31 January 2018

18 & 19 October 2018  |  Amiens, France

John Baskerville (1707–75) was an English typographer, printer, industrialist and Enlightenment figure with a worldwide reputation. He not only designed one of the world’s most popular and important typefaces, he also experimented with casting type, improved the construction of the printing press, trialed a new kind of paper and refined the quality of printing inks. His typographic experiments put him ahead of his time, had an international impact and did much to enhance the printing and publishing industries of his day.

Baskerville, however, was a prophet without honour in his own land and ‘only in France did he meet with the encouragement he undoubtedly deserved.’

During his lifetime, Baskerville allied himself with France both through print and politics. His books were purchased, read and collected by an admiring French public; his magnificent Orlando Furioso, printed in 1773, carried the work of the Paris-based Molini brothers and their French artists. The French State was appreciative of Baskerville’s work and wished to purchase his typographic material, and he enjoyed the hospitality of the King. Aptly known as ‘Birmingham’s little Voltaire’ Baskerville was an admirer and correspondent of the French author with whom he shared political, religious and freethinking values.

After his death the Franco-Baskerville relationship persisted. Caron de Beaumarchais, French author and polymath, purchased his types and presses to print the complete works of Voltaire and the link between Baskerville and French politics was strengthened when his type was deployed on a succession of Revolutionary material, including Le Moniteur, the official journal of the Republic. Baskerville’s influence on French typography is also significant, from the Didot family to the Deberny & Peignot foundry, who purchased and restored his materials before giving them to the university of Cambridge in 1953. Today, Baskerville’s typographic impact continues and his typeface is still widely used in the publishing trade.

This conference welcomes papers that consider the impact of Baskerville in France from the eighteenth century to the present day. Papers may consider the technical, aesthetic, literary, political or philosophical influences of Baskerville on France and France on Baskerville.

Papers are invited on, but not limited to the following themes:

  • books & book making: design and layout; illustrations and ornamentation; paper; bindings; marbling;
  • book trade: publishing; distribution; subscribers; readers;
  • influence and influences: friends, colleagues; printing trade;
  • literature: texts; authors and literary figures;
  • politics: Enlightenment; revolution; freethinking; religion;
  • technology: punches, type, printing machinery.

Papers of twenty-minutes are invited for this interdisciplinary conference, from established scholars, students, independent researchers and practitioners who are engaged in work which has a bearing on the conference theme. all papers will be delivered in english

How to apply Please send a suggested title, synopsis (300 words) and biography (150 words) via a Word attachment to both caroline.archer@bcu.ac.uk and s.morlighem@gmail.com by 31 January 2018.

Organisers Prof Caroline Archer (Centre for Printing History & Culture) & Dr Sébastien Morlighem (ESAD Amiens)

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