2 x 2 = 5: Protests and Experiments in Revolution-Era Russian Poetry

Dr Makarchev talks about books from his collection. The talk is based on Nikita's prize-winning submission to Cambridge University's Rose Book Collecting Prize. The UL has put this online at: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/about-library/prizes-and-fellowships/rose-book-collecting-prize.

"In hurried steps a new 'red aestheticization' is being created... An ominous sign, this. Manufacturers of cliche they are" - Imaginists, Eight Points (1924)

This talk aims to rediscover the suppressed, avant-garde poetic voices that informed and underpinned the Russian revolution's preliminary years, 1917-1925. Through a collection of contemporaneous dissident poetry, the speaker aims to underscore the richness of radical enquiry and experimentation that Bolshevik censors saw as a 'malignant outrage... on mankind, and over modern Russia (Lunacharsky 1921). Further questions to consider include: What is the role of poetry in society? What new insights can these works teach us about the early 20th century avant-garde? How do these works transcend their time-period and remain relevant today?

Between Culture and Commerce: Music Publishers and their Networks in Eighteenth-Century London

Using a database of music publishers, this paper aims to uncover the individuals and geography of the trade, opening up music publishing to questions of class, gender, politics, and place. It also discusses how a digital humanities approach will facilitate a comparative history of similar studies of literary print, and, ultimately, how this will help to uncover the stories of those individuals working in the complex networks surrounding musical print.

Science and the Enlightenment

The Reception of Erik Pontoppidan's Det forste forsog Norges naturlige historie (1752-3)
The Danish intellectual, cleric and writer, Erik Pontopiddan (1698-1764) wrote and published (in Copenhagen) his Det forste forsog Norges naturlige historie (1752-3) in Danish shortly after his appointment (and semi-exile) as Bishop of Bergen in Denmark-Norway 1752-3. The work is a detailed survey of the flora, fauna and topography of Norway, with sections also on habits, costume and folklore - and it is famously illustrated with pull-out maps and engravings. It was translated into German a year later and a year after that into a lavish English edition. It was reviewed across Europe in all main reviewing periodicals, the German edition ordered by major institutions across mainland Europe and then the English edition bought by institutions and significant writers and collectors from Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia to the Maharajah of Tranquebar in India.

Pontoppidan pioneered and insisted upon a new scientific and historical method: observation and verification of all natural phenomena and events recorded. But there was a significant twist to the book's reception: to Pontoppidans later chagrin, the global interest focused on Pontoppidan's assertions (involving his scientific verification of evidence techniques) about the existence of sea serpents, kraken, and mermaids and mermen. Most of the surviving copies have annotations to this effect - and for a century or more the book became associated with avowals of the existence of monsters (and an unconscious engagement with a Nordic tradition of storytelling about giant sea creatures and especially Jormungandr, the World Serpent or Midgard Serpent, since at least Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) Swedish Catholic writer and cleric and as incorporated within early modern natural history - most notably by Conrad Gessner (1516-65) the Swiss physician, naturalist and bibliographer). Discussing the tale of Thor fishing for the Midgard Serpent, Bishop Thomas Percy noted in 1770, 'we see plainly in the . . . fable the origin of those vulgar opinions entertained in the north, and which Pontoppidan has recorded concerning the craken and that monstrous serpent described in his History of Norway.'

Writing the Oxford Illustrated History of the Book

An online event to celebrate the recent publication of The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book. Contributors discuss their experience of planning and writing the volume. How important is it to define what a book is? What are the merits and challenges of a global history of the book?

Chinese Book Culture in the Early Modern Period

Professor Cynthia Brokaw, Yip Fellow at Magdalene and 2021 Panizzi Lecturer at the British Library will be speaking informally about her work on Chinese book culture in the early modern period. Venue: The Parlour, Magdalene College, Cambridge. All welcome. Drinks provided. Owing to restrictions, the talk and question period will finish by 7.15pm. Please email

The Materialities of Texts: East, and West

Dr Peter Taverner, Magdalene College, Cambridge, gives an illustrated lecture on "The Materialities of Texts: East, and West", followed by a workshop comparing physical forms of bamboo and paper books.