Use and Reuse of Paper in the Pre-Industrial World

Use and Reuse of Paper in the Pre-Industrial World

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Research, University College Cork (University College Cork)
University College Cork
University College Cork
Gefördert durch
Icelandic Research Fund, University College Cork
T12 K8AF
Findet statt
In Präsenz
Vom - Bis
27.08.2024 - 28.08.2024
Silvia Hufnagel, Handschriftenabtelung, Árni Magnússon Instutite für isländische Studien

After the material turn in the Arts & Humanities, the use and reuse of objects has gained more scholarly attention. We would like to strengthen the change of focus to later stages in the life cycle of paper and to non-text-bearing objects by hosting the colloquium "Use and Reuse of Paper in the Pre-Industrial World" in Cork, Ireland, 27-28 August 2024.

Use and Reuse of Paper in the Pre-Industrial World

After the material turn in the Arts & Humanities, the use and reuse of objects has gained more scholarly attention. In book history, the production and reuse of material has long been researched, but traditionally the focus was on the production of paper and the reuse of parchment, particularly on watermarks and on fragments used in bindings or as scraped-off and newly-written-on palimpsests. In recent years the research has shifted to include the wider afterlife of parchment manuscripts, including societal and historical contexts. We would like to expand these new approaches to handmade paper, including paper manuscripts, in the pre-industrial world.

We would like to strengthen the change of focus to later stages in the life cycle of paper and to nontext- bearing paper objects by hosting a colloquium. We thus invite you to investigate various approaches towards the use and reuse of pre-industrial paper. Possible research questions include, but are not limited to:
To what uses was paper put, apart from books and manuscripts? What historical sources and artefacts bear witness to such uses?
Did paper replace other materials or did it create new needs?
How did the use and reuse of paper spread through our world? How widespread was the use of paper in society? Are there differences of use and reuse with regard to geographical or social aspects?
When did the reuse of paper start, when did it stop and were there specific events that led to the reuse of paper?
Does the reuse of handmade paper give us general clues about the age, or ‘life expectancy’ of paper? For how long was paper in circulation?
What manuscripts and books were prone to be recycled and to contain recycled materials?
To what new uses was recycled paper put, apart from manuscripts and books?

Topics are not limited to book history, codicology or fragmentology, and suggestions from other disciplines are particularly welcome. We especially encourage scholars, librarians, archivists, conservators and other interested parties from outside Europe to send us an abstract and to attend our colloquium.

The colloquium will be free of charge, however, attendants and speakers are responsible for their own travel and accommodation. We envisage the publication of conference proceedings and will inform the speakers about details. The colloquium is jointly organised by the University College Cork, Ireland, and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík, Iceland.

​Please register until 31 July 2024 at


13:30-14:00 REGISTRATION
14:30-15:30 SESSION 1: Paper Use in Iceland
Silvia Hufnagel: Paper Use in 17th-Century Skálholt
Ermenegilda Müller: Uses of Paper at the Bishopric of Hólar, Iceland, in the Mid-18th Century
15:30-16:00 COFFEE
16:00-17:00 KEYNOTE
Anna Reynolds: Wrapping Up: The Long History of Waste Wrappers

09:00-10:30 SESSION 2
Jemima Bennett: Parchment and Paper: Fragments and Endleaves in Late Medieval Oxford Bindings
Halldóra Kristinsdóttir and Rannver Hannesson: Ingenious Recycling: Reused Paper in Icelandic Post-Medieval Manuscripts
Beeke Stegmann: Wrapping Words with Paper: Early 18th-Century Archival Use of (Waste) Paper Surrounding Icelandic Charter Copies
10:30-11:00 COFFEE
11:00-12:00 SESSION 3
Flavia Bruni: On the Back of Official Print: The Reuse of Discarded Sheets for Printing Ordinances in Early Modern Rome
Yelena Helgadóttir: “Á blaði sérílagi”: Reuse of Paper in Folklore Collections

12:00-13:00 LUNCH

13:00-14:30 SESSION 4
Ashley Cataldo: Bound to Waste Paper: An Exploration of Printed and Manuscript Waste in Early American Books
Martha Elena Romero: Use and Reuse of European and Indigenous Paper in 16th- and 17th-Century Mexican Bindings as Evidence of the Clash of Two Cultures
Giovanni Pagani: Reused Fragments in Book Structures: The Case of an Incunabulum from the Franciscan Library of Falconara

14:30-15:00 COFFEE

15:00-16:30 SESSION 5: Non-Textual Reuse
Sebastian Kirsch: Fragments of Paper and Parchment in Musical Instruments: Binder’s Waste for the Production and Repair of Lutes from the 16th to the 19th Century
Amélie Junqua: One More Way to Reuse Paper – Papier Maché in the Mid-18th Century
Fiona J. Handley and Anne Regourd: The Reuse of Paper in Egyptian Medieval Tailor Workshops



Silvia Hufnagel
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