Destruction & the Book Lecture Series Announced

Courtesy of the MCBA

Minneapolis — You can’t judge a book by its cover, unless the cover is 300 years old, worm-devoured, or from a remote archive in the Mediterranean Sea. Then, an archival expert can conclude a lot—not just about the individual book, but about the culture and society that produced it.

The public will have the opportunity to learn about this and more from Hill Museum & Manuscript Library archival experts at three lectures taking place this spring at Minnesota Center for Book Arts:

Malta, Slavery & Archives: The Legacy of Human Trafficking in Early Modern Documents
Thursday, February 20; 7-9pm

Cut, Eaten, Burnt, Stained: The Perilous Life of Old Books
Thursday, March 26; 7-9pm

Books Ripped Away: Secularization and the Removal of Monastic Books to State Libraries
Thursday, April 16; 7-9pm

Before and after the presentations, attendees will have the chance to handle rare books, some close to 350 years old.

“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with HMML for the third year, and to offer audiences the chance to learn from HMML’s vast collections of digitized and physical rare books and manuscripts from cultures across the world. Our partnership reflects each organization’s commitment to preserving the material culture of the book in the 21st century,” says Elysa Voshell, Executive Director of MCBA.

The first lecture in the series features Dr. Daniel K. Gullo, the Joseph S. Micallef Curator of the Malta Study Center and Coordinator of Digital Humanities. He will look at the role of small archives in Malta to discuss the nature of slavery and what it tells us about human trafficking, law, and international communication in the 18th century.

In the second lecture, HMML’s Assistant Director for Strategic Development, Dr. Melissa Moreton, will explore the world of damaged medieval books and demonstrate the resilience of these carriers of knowledge. The manuscripts and early printed books that have survived across the centuries have endured use by many hands and abuse in many forms. Manuscripts have been cut up, their illuminations sold and dispersed, eaten by book worms and rodents, damaged in floods and fires—but often survive these ravages to carry forward the messages held within their covers.

In the third lecture, Dr. Matthew Heintzelman, Curator of Western Collections and Rare Books at HMML, will look at the history of monastic collections that were built over centuries and their removal to the Bavarian State Library, state libraries and archives in Austria.

Free and open to the public, the lectures will take place in the Target Performance Hall at Open Book, with wine receptions to follow.

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