History of Publishing

With an half millennium of history to explore, the research interests under this theme are varied, but all seek to uncover how the practice of publishing has evolved over time, how it has been influenced by the world around it, and how it has influenced that world in turn.

Below are some of our ongoing projects in the area:

  • In 2015, in honour of the five-hundredth anniversary of the death of Renaissance publisher Aldus Manutius, the CISP worked with SFU Library’s Special Collections to create an online platform showcasing digitized volumes from SFU’s outstanding Wosk–McDonald Aldine Collection. The prototype website, Aldus@SFU, comprises twenty-one fully digitized editions printed during Aldus’ lifetime (1501–1515); a second group of Aldines, including a representative selection from the years after Aldus’ demise (1515–1529), was digitized in 2018 and will be available to the public in 2019. The project, led by Alessandra Bordini, will enter a new phase next year, with the development of a new version of the website.
  • A collaboration between literary scholars, designers, and librarians from Concordia University and Simon Fraser University, the SpokenWeb is 7-year SSHRC-funded Partnership Grant focused on digitizing and mobilizing literary sound archives in Canada. Using digitized live recordings of a Montreal poetry reading series, the project seeks to identify the features of the recordings that are most conducive to scholarly engagement. Drawing from their findings, the team plans to create a tool that can be used by memory institutions across the country to make their digitized literary recordings available to scholars. As part of the project, SFU’s Hannah McGregor is developing a student-led podcast series that will activate audio archives through scholarly storytelling.
  • An extension of Hannah McGregor’s SSHRC-funded postdoctoral research, the Modern Magazines Project Canada bridges the areas of periodical studies, middlebrow studies, Canadian literature, and digital humanities. In partnership with the University of Alberta Libraries and the Manitoba Legislative Library, it has facilitated the digitization of The Western Home Monthly, a household magazine printed out of Winnipeg between 1899 and 1932. In collaboration with Katja Lee, Dr. McGregor has also edited a forthcoming essay cluster for Modernism/modernity’s Print+ platform that challenged scholars from across disciplines to explore the digitized Western Home Monthly.
  • John Willinsky's 2018 book seeks to establish how a prototypical form of intellectual property emerged from within medieval monasteries and cathedral schools, and all the more so through the universities, from the medieval to Early Modern era. This pre-history culminates with Locke’s theory of property and early copyright law at the turn of the seventeenth century. Both can be shown to support distinctions that still set learned intellectual properties apart from other sorts, and that tend to be lost sight of amid the current intellectual-property gold rush. Published by the University of Chicago Press, Dr Willinsky has also made available an Open Access draft of the book.
  • A wide-ranging inquiry tracing the early histories of technological change in Canadian publishing, largely centering on the pioneering digital innovation at Toronto’s Coach House Press in the 1970s and 1980s. This research blends cultural history with media archaeology and software studies. An article by John Maxwell, “Coach House Press in the ‘Early Digital’ Period: A Celebration,” appeared in Devil’s Artisan: A Journal of the Printing Arts. 77, Fall/Winter 2015.