The St Andrews Book Conference
The Printed Book in Central Europe

From its origins along the Rhine to its rapid spread eastward, the story of printing and its growth and development in Central Europe is overwhelmingly transnational. The first book with Cyrillic characters was the product of a German printer in Polish Cracow. The presses of Königsberg played a critical role spreading Reformation ideas throughout the Baltic world and beyond. The busy printers of Renaissance Prague catered to readers of Latin, Czech, German and Hebrew literature, later Yiddish and Italian as well. But despite the cosmopolitan nature of Central Europe’s print and literary culture, scholars have frequently worked within narrower interpretive frameworks defined by a single linguistic tradition.

This conference, hosted at the University of St Andrews in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, will intentionally cross borders of language, geography, culture, and religion as we seek to recover the rich and variegated world of the book in Central Europe (including Germany as well as other central and east European regions). We invite proposals on a variety of topics within this broad framework and especially welcome those that seek connections and linkages across fields and areas of study.

  • Books crossing borders—the licit and illicit movement of literature
  • Censorship and the control of print culture
  • Book buying, collecting and building libraries
  • Transnational world of the printers
  • Books and manuscripts—the transition from scribal to print culture
  • Printing in a multilingual context
  • Jewish print culture and its interaction with a Christian world
  • Books crossing cultures: development of travel literature/facing the Turk/fascination with exotica/impact of discovery
  • Books in a confessional age
  • Books and new modes of learning

Co-organised by Dr. Howard Louthan and Drew Thomas, the conference will take place between 29 June and 1 July 2017. Those interested in giving a paper are asked to offer a title and a brief synopsis (300 words) of their proposed contribution. Proposals should be sent to Drew Thomas ( by 31st January 2017.

The papers given at this conference will form the basis of a volume in the Library of the Written Word.

A conference flyer can be downloaded here.