On September 23, 2011, Bill Sherman, Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Renaissance & Early Modern Studies at the University of York, spoke at the Toronto Centre for the Book lecture series. His talk was entitled “The Reader’s Eye: Between Annotation and Illustration.”
Or read his abstract:
The margins of old books are filled not just with words but also with images. Between medieval illumination and modern illustration there are a wide range of traces and practices that we have been slow to see and study, and for which we are poorly served by both methodology and terminology. In the first few centuries of print culture, in particular, active readers drew sketches, diagrams, iconic tags and body parts as well as fully-fledged decorative or illustrative schemes. What function do they serve and for whom? What kinds of text do they appear in and what kinds of content do they mark? What kinds of graphic training, aesthetic tastes and cognitive habits do they reflect? I will survey some rich examples from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries and offer some preliminary thoughts about the visual mode of response in early modern Europe.