New Book Histories

Publishers, Printers, and Presses

Curated by the students of English 500, Fall 2015. On display in the Legacy Mearns Gallery in the Mearns Centre-McPherson Library. Feb. 19 to May 16, 2016.

Poster designed by Legacy Gallery staff.

Book histories often focus on authors and readers. Yet publishers and printers play key roles in both the art and business of book production. They determine the material form and aesthetics of the book, have often owned the rights to the text, sometimes function as editors, and choose which authors will become canonical. Showcasing materials from the University of Victoria Special Collections and University Archives, this exhibition traces the role of publishers and printers in literary history from the first presses in Europe to 21st-century BC small presses. Individual cases show how early publishers remade the codex in the sixteenth century, who owned and regulated the right to print, how 18th-century printers made Shakespeare, what drove Dickens to become his own publisher, how Lady Chatterley’s Lover escaped the censors, why serial publication mattered, and how literary archives shed light on relationships between publishers and authors.

This exhibition is curated by the students in English 500 (Textual Studies and Methods of Research) under the supervision of instructor Dr. Janelle Jenstad. We are grateful to Heather Dean, Lara Wilson, John Frederick, Nadica Lora, Caroline Riedel and the Legacy Gallery staff, Katie Tanigawa, and J. Matthew Huculak for their help with the exhibition.