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A Workshop for Humanists in XVI. century Europe. Erasmus von Rotterdam’s Media Strategies at Frobens’ Printing Press

Applicant Burghartz Susanna
Number 140353
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Geschichte Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.11.2013 - 31.10.2016
Approved amount 184'417.00
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Keywords (7)

Humanistic Book Culture; History of Medias; Bestsellers; Johann and Hieronymus Froben; Erasmus of Rotterdam; Basel (16th c.); Paratextual Analysis

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
In sixteenth century Basel printers and scholars collaborated for the making of the written culture for humanists. They ideated and successfully employed economic, cultural, visual, material, and commercial strategies that secured to Basel the reputation of a world city of humanist printing.
Lay summary

General Scholarly Context and Objectives of the Research Project

In sixteenth century Europe printing technology and mass production made of the printed book the privileged media for communication. Those who had the ability to manage with the exigencies of the market and those of culture, connecting the dealings of entrepreneurs and the demands of scholars through the technical knowledge of the craft, created a powerful alliance that enhanced the impact of the written words on the circulation and reception of knowledge. Johann and Hieronymus Froben’s printworks offers itself as a point of vantage to observe the making of bestsellers for humanists in sixteenth century Europe. The research recollects Froben’s print company catalogue between 1491 and 1540 and reconstructs the editorial policy of the printing house in order to evaluate its importance for the transformation of Basel into a world city in humanistic book production. It investigates the intellectual, technical, visual, financial and commercial mechanisms employed for the production and dissemination of the books, especially during the energetic participation of the distinguished humanist, Erasmus of Rotterdam, in the success of Froben’s business activity between 1514 and 1536, in order to grasp the level of attraction that Basel exerted over publishers, printers, scholars and workers of the time.  

Methodology  and Research Quality

The research is firmly rooted in the methodological and epistemological framework of the history of print culture on one hand, and the history of humanist learning, on the other. On the basis of extensive investigation in epistolary sources and of the discerning application of the most recent paratextual analysis the research adds an important contribution to our understanding of a key moment in the history of media in the early sixteenth century, shedding light on the reciprocal imbrication – and their mutual reinforcement – of printing and humanism to shape European modernity.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.03.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Johann Froben, Printer of Basel. A Biographical Profile and Catalogue of His Editions
Sebastiani Valentina (2018), Johann Froben, Printer of Basel. A Biographical Profile and Catalogue of His Editions, Brill, Leiden.
Die Ausgaben von 1519 bis 1535. Vom Novum Instrumentum zum Novum Testamentum.
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), Die Ausgaben von 1519 bis 1535. Vom Novum Instrumentum zum Novum Testamentum., in Dill Ulrich, Schierl Petra (ed.), Schwabe, Basel, 129-142.
Erasmus’ Neues Testament und die Römische Kirche
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), Erasmus’ Neues Testament und die Römische Kirche, in Dill Ulrich, Schierl Petra (ed.), Schwabe, Basel, 181-189.
Erasmus’s Strategies for Survival in the Early Reformation Publishing Market
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), Erasmus’s Strategies for Survival in the Early Reformation Publishing Market, in BIBLIOTHEK und WISSENSCHAFT, 49 (2016), 37-49.
La stampa a Basilea nel XV e XVI secolo. Introduzione
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), La stampa a Basilea nel XV e XVI secolo. Introduzione, "Arte & Storia" Ticino Management, Lugano.
Reformatorische Drucke und Drucker in Basel (1517–1529). Perspektiven aus der Forschung zur Buchgeschichte
Berner Hans Heiligensetzer Lorenz (2016), Reformatorische Drucke und Drucker in Basel (1517–1529). Perspektiven aus der Forschung zur Buchgeschichte, in Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde, 116 (2016), 71-89.
Sales Channels for Bestsellers in 16. century Europe
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), Sales Channels for Bestsellers in 16. century Europe, in McLean Matthew, Barker Sara (ed.), Brill, Leiden - Boston, 3-15.
Sixteenth-century Polymaths in the Print and Publishing Business in Basel. An Intersection of Interests and Strategies (1472-1513)
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), Sixteenth-century Polymaths in the Print and Publishing Business in Basel. An Intersection of Interests and Strategies (1472-1513), in Renaissance and Reformation - Renaissance and Réforme, 39.2(39.2), 9-25.
The Impact of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s New Testament on the European Market. Some Considerations on Production, Distribution, and Circulation of An Editorial Success (1516-1527)
Sebastiani Valentina (2016), The Impact of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s New Testament on the European Market. Some Considerations on Production, Distribution, and Circulation of An Editorial Success (1516-1527), in Wallraff Martin, Seidel-Menchi Silvana, von Greyerz Kaspar (ed.), Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Tübingen, 225-237.
C. Galle, Hodie nullus – Cras Maximus. Berühmtwerden und Berühmtsein im frühen 16. Jahrhundert am Beispiel des Erasmus von Rotterdam.
Sebastiani Valentina (2015), C. Galle, Hodie nullus – Cras Maximus. Berühmtwerden und Berühmtsein im frühen 16. Jahrhundert am Beispiel des Erasmus von Rotterdam., in Jahrbuch des italienisch- deutschen historischen Instituts in Trient", 42(1), 105-107.
Childhood and Emotion in a Printing House (1497-1508)
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), Childhood and Emotion in a Printing House (1497-1508), in Jarzebowski Claudia, Safley Thomas Max (ed.), Routledge, Oxford/New York, 143-156.
Die kulturelle, geistige und materielle Bedeutung des Bündnisses zwischen Humanismus und Druckwesen im Basel der frühen Neuzeit
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), Die kulturelle, geistige und materielle Bedeutung des Bündnisses zwischen Humanismus und Druckwesen im Basel der frühen Neuzeit, in Grosse Sven, Hamm Berndt, Christ-von Wedel Christine (ed.), Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Tübingen, 79-95.
Erasmus of Rotterdam in Print: A Question of Reputation (1514-1521).
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), Erasmus of Rotterdam in Print: A Question of Reputation (1514-1521)., in Eisenbichler Konrad (ed.), Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Toronto, 107-124.
I Pasquillorum tomi duo nel contesto della stampa satirica basileese (1494-1544)
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), I Pasquillorum tomi duo nel contesto della stampa satirica basileese (1494-1544), in Romano Angelo, Damianacki Chrysa (ed.), The Warburg Institute; Edizioni di storia e letteratura, London - Rome, 139-157.
S. Conrad. Globalgeschichte. Eine Einführung
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), S. Conrad. Globalgeschichte. Eine Einführung, in Annali dell'Istituto storico italo-germanico, 41/1, 117-120.
V. Sebastiani, Froben Press Editions (1505-1559) in the Holdings of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies Library (1505-1559): A Brief Survey
Sebastiani Valentina (2014), V. Sebastiani, Froben Press Editions (1505-1559) in the Holdings of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies Library (1505-1559): A Brief Survey, in "Renaissance and Reformation - Renaissance et Réforme Journal", (37.3, Summ), 213-234.
Gli Antibarbari di Erasmo da Rotterdam e il programma editoriale della stamperia Froben
Sebastiani Valentina (2013), Gli Antibarbari di Erasmo da Rotterdam e il programma editoriale della stamperia Froben, in Bruniana & Campanelliana, 2/2013, 385-396.
M. Cavarzere. La giustizia del vescovo. I tribunali ecclesiastici della Liguria orientale.
Sebastiani Valentina (2013), M. Cavarzere. La giustizia del vescovo. I tribunali ecclesiastici della Liguria orientale., in Bibliothéque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 75.3 (2013), 624-626.
T. Plebani. Un secolo di sentimenti. Amori e conflitti generazionali nella Venezia del Settecento
Sebastiani Valentina (2013), T. Plebani. Un secolo di sentimenti. Amori e conflitti generazionali nella Venezia del Settecento, in Jahrbuch des italienisch- deutschen historischen Instituts in Trient, 40/2, 99-101.
Beatus Rhenanus and the Basle Humanist Printing
Sebastiani Valentina, Beatus Rhenanus and the Basle Humanist Printing, in Hirstein James (ed.), Brepols, Turnhout, 12.
Johann Froben (1460-1527). A Bibliographical Profile and the Catalogue of His Editions
Sebastiani Valentina, Johann Froben (1460-1527). A Bibliographical Profile and the Catalogue of His Editions, Brill, Leiden-Boston.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Ueli Dill (Basel) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. Victoria University of the University of Toronto Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Forschungszentrum Gotha Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Ratsschulbibliothek, Zwickau Germany (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
MPIWG. Berlin. Research group "Art and Knowledge in Pre-modern Europe (Prof. S. Dupré) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. em. Silvana Seidel-Menchi (Pisa, Firenze) Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Hans Trapman (Rotterdam) Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Bavarian State Library Munich, Department of Early and Rare Printed Books (VD 16) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Harry Oehlke (München) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Christine Goettler (Bern) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Morgan Library - New York United States of America (North America)
- Research Infrastructure
Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies - University of Rotterdam Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Princeton University Library United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
USTC - University of St. Andrews Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Journée d’études Collegium Beatus Rhenanus Talk given at a conference Renaissance Bestsellers in the Upper Rhine Region 03.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sebastiani Valentina;
Forschungsseminar Latinistik Individual talk Der Katalog von Johannes Froben. Bibliographische Perspektiven zur kulturellen und kommerzielle Geschichte des Buches 20.05.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sebastiani Valentina;
Reformation und Buch - Akteure und Strategien der Verbreitung frühreformatorischer Druckerzeugnisse Talk given at a conference Die Offizin Froben als "Transferdruckerei" von europäischem Rang 22.02.2016 Göttingen, Germany Sebastiani Valentina;
Beatus Rhenanus de Sèlestat (1485-1547) et une réforme de l'Eglise: engagement et changement Talk given at a conference Beatus Rhenanus and the Basle Humanist Printing 05.06.2015 Strasbourg-Sélestat, France Sebastiani Valentina;
Research Seminar at the Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies Mai 2015 Individual talk The Print Shop of Johannes and Hieronymus Froben 22.05.2015 Rotterdam, Netherlands Sebastiani Valentina;
Renaissance Society of America - Annual Meeting. Berlin 25-28 March 2015 Talk given at a conference Basel as a “World City” for Humanist Printing in Sixteenth Century Europe 25.03.2015 Berlin, Germany Sebastiani Valentina;
Brown Bag Series Talk - Princeton University Library Individual talk Renaissance Bestsellers at the Princeton University Library 14.10.2014 Princeton University, United States of America Sebastiani Valentina;
SHARP Conference, Antwerpen, 16-21 Sept. 2014 Talk given at a conference Features and Techniques of Religious Books printed in Basel (1516-1580) 16.09.2014 Antwerp, Belgium Sebastiani Valentina;
Int. Conf. Erasmus' Edition des griechischen Neuen Testaments Basel 1516, University of Basel, 11-13 Sept. 2014 Talk given at a conference he Impact of the New Testament over the European Market. Production, Distribution and Circulation of an Editorial Success 1516-1527 11.09.2014 Basel, Switzerland Sebastiani Valentina;
SCRIPTO-Programm, BSB Munich, 05/14) Individual talk Renaissance Bestsellers at the Bavarian State Library 22.05.2014 Bavarian State Library - Munich, Germany Sebastiani Valentina;
Erudits and Polymaths. Session sponsored by CRRS, Toronto at the RSA Conference, New York, 27-29 March 2014) Talk given at a conference Interests and Strategies of Sixteenth Century Polymaths in the Business of Printing 27.03.2014 New York, United States of America Sebastiani Valentina;
30. Basler Renaissance Kolloquium, University of Basel, 13/12/2013 Talk given at a conference New World Pictures for Humanists 13.12.2013 Basel, Switzerland Sebastiani Valentina;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Session: Different Faiths, One Marketplace, SHARP Conference, Antwerpen, 16-21 Sept. 2014 16.09.2014 Antwerp, Belgium

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Erasmus-Theaterprojekt Talk 06.12.2016 Basel, Switzerland Sebastiani Valentina;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) "La stampa a Basilea nel XV e XVI secolo. Un’introduzione" Italian-speaking Switzerland 2016
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) ‘Das Neue Testament von Erasmus von Rotterdam. Die Ausgaben von 1519-1535.Einleitung und Objektlist International German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Come si produce un "Best-seller": Erasmus, il Nuovo Testamento e l'officina Froben Italian-speaking Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Erasmus und die römische Kirche. Einleitung und Objektliste German-speaking Switzerland International 2016
Media relations: radio, television Erasmus von Rotterdam Deutschlandfunk International German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Erasmus-Theaterprojekt German-speaking Switzerland 2016

Awards

Title Year
Short International Visiting Fellowship at the Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies of the University of Rotterdam, awarded by SNRF 2015
Library Research Grant, Princeton University Library. Funded by the Council of the Humanities, Princeton University 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
137119 Crossroads - Trading Zones - Schnittpunkte: Gesellschaft und Wissen in Basel im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert 01.04.2012 ProDoc
161581 Renaissance Bestsellers at the Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies - Rotterdam 01.05.2015 International short research visits

Abstract

In sixteenth century Europe printing technology and mass production made of the printed book the privileged media for communication. Those who had the ability to manage with the exigencies of the market and those of culture, connecting the dealings of entrepreneurs and the demands of scholars through the technical knowledge of the craft, created a powerful alliance that enhanced the impact of the written words on the circulation and reception of knowledge. The collaboration between Erasmus of Rotterdam and the printers Johannes and Hieronymus Froben of Basel between 1514 and 1536 offers itself as a point of vantage to observe the making of the written culture for humanists, allowing investigations into the media strategies and the marketing communication tools employed to produce and disseminate humanist books in early modern Europe.In the period he spent in Basel, Erasmus was able to devote himself exclusively to study and the patient labour of producing the works and editions that gave rise to his pre-eminence in the history of European culture. Before and during the explosive years of the Lutheran Reformation, Erasmus elaborated the new discourse of modernity, consigning his words to the presses of the Frobens, whose printworks acted as a sounding board to his religious and political message. The technical expertise of highly skilled artisans and their commercial ability to cope with the hazards of the marketplace, the typographical accuracy of frontispieces richly embellished with borders and various ornaments for the initial letters realized by the best artists in the market, together with the sophistication of the intellectual network that joined the Frobens’ printworks to collaborate in the multiple phases of study, correction, translation and revision of the works destined for the press, transformed Erasmus’ reflections into words capable of speaking to all who knew Latin, making of his books the common currency in the dealings of princes, bishops and scholars over the length and breadth of early modern Europe. On the basis of extensive investigation in epistolary sources and in manuscript notes appended on printed books, on a critical reading of secondary literature on a range of different subjects, and on the discerning application of methods and approaches that historians of the book, and of other fields of inquiry have developed in the past several years, the research will add an important contribution to our understanding of a key moment in the history of media in the early sixteenth century, shedding light on the reciprocal imbrication - and their mutual reinforcement - of printing and humanism to shape european modernity.
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