Book history

My approach to book history is best described as interdisciplinary. I am particularly drawn to Leslie Howsam envisioning of the boundaries of book history as a triangle with three points assigned to history, literary studies, and bibliography. These three fields respectively conceive the book as “a cultural transaction, a literary text, and a material artefact”.1 Between these points lie other fields utilizing pieces from these points such as cultural studies, cultural history, book-trade history, and the sociology of texts among others.2 As a book historian who has drawn on all three major disciplines in her research, I am drawn to Howsam’s statement that “Every scholar whose work includes book history uses all three of these approaches, but the set of assumptions drawn from each person’s core discipline is likely to dominate”.3 While my main research on Navarrese booksellers draws primarily from history and bibliography, literature plays a strong role in other research interests as a result of my training in Hispanic cultural studies.

Early modern Navarrese book history

My primary field of research is the book history of 16th- and 17th-century Navarre. My past research has dealt with the intersection between private libraries and identity using the post-mortem inventories of 37 clergy, legal professionals, and women between 1583 and 1694. I hope to continue working on the female book ownership in Navarre.

Presently, I am most interested in the book trade in Navarre in the 17th century. For my MA thesis at the University of London, I analyzed the post-mortem inventory of Lorenzo Coroneu, a French bookseller working in Pamplona in the late-17th century. This inventory combined with data from another bookseller (Juan Antonio Berdún), data from my private libraries corpus, and assorted court cases revealed Coroneu to be a used bookseller with a specialization in providing for the legal market in Pamplona—a strategic move considering that Pamplona was the administrative center of the kingdom and 10% of the city’s population was bureaucratic.4

In the future, I intend to study more booksellers’ inventories – including that of Juan Antonio Berdún – in detail to provide a clearer historical narrative of bookselling in 17th-century Navarre since it has not been as well studied compared to printing or private libraries.

Alfonso X & the Primera Partida

A secondary research interest is Alfonso X and the Primera Partida. I am in the midst of writing an article about British Library, Add. MS 20787, a manuscript of an early version of the Primera Partida which was produced in Alfonso X’s scriptorium. I am interested in how the hierarchy of decoration and the visual aspects of the manuscript are connected to Alfonso’s political ambitions and conception of a new social hierarchy.

Early modern English-Spanish translation

My interest in English-Spanish translation in the early modern period stems from a class at William & Mary which explored how different editions of Bartolomé de las Casas’ Brevissima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (1552) were manipulated in terms of their text and bibliographic features to suit a variety of political purposes (17th-century English ambitions on Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, South American independence movements, American designs on Cuba at the beginning of the Spanish-American war).

Currently, I am continuing research on English translations of Juan Huarte de San Juan’s Examen de Ingenios (1575). Comparisons between the original 1575 Spanish edition, the 1594 Baeza edition made after the Inquisition’s censorship and expurgation of the 1575 edition, the 1594 English translation by Richard Carew, and the 1698 English translation by Edward Bellamy reveal differing methods of translating the text for an English audience, both in linguistic and bibliographic terms. These are found in domesticating and foreignizing approaches to translation, typographical practices, paratexts, and the addition and deletion of material from both the 1575 and 1594 Spanish editions.

Digital humanities

While I fell into digital humanities by accident rather than by design, the projects I have completed or been a part of have all had some connection to digital humanities. Considering how I have practiced digital humanities, digital humanities for me is the application of digital methods to inform humanities research in new ways, but I realize the importance of the criticism of digital media to digital humanities as well.

I am particularly interested in how digital humanities methods can improve historians’ use and dissemination of research on book inventories. The current publishing practice for research utilizing inventories simply publishes the text of the inventory in print or PDF form, possibly with identifications of the books. This makes it extremely difficult for scholars to utilize inventories already studied by others because there is no way to easily transfer or search that information. I personally experienced these difficulties when trying to perform a comparison between my inventory of Lorenzo Coroneu and the inventory of Juan Antonio Berdún published by María Isabel Ostolaza Elizondo and Juan Panizo Santos. Because of this, I have published my inventory corpora (Bibliotecas Privadas de Navarra and Lorenzo Coroneu) in the form of searchable catalogs whose data can be downloaded as .csv files in addition to a more traditional text transcription of the inventories.

In the future, I would like to explore building a database of Navarrese booksellers’ inventories that is connected to TEI transcriptions of the inventories, both of which would be downloadable for other scholars to use in their work, thereby fostering interchange and dissemination of research.

  1. Leslie Howsam, Old Books and New Histories. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), p. 4.
  2. See Howsam’s diagram on p. 17 of Old Books and New Histories.
  3. Leslie Howsam, ‘The Study of Book History’, in The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book, ed. by Leslie Howsam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 1-13.
  4. Daniel Sánchez Aguirreolea, ‘Pamplona En La Edad Moderna: Sociedad Y Cultura’, in Historia De Pamplona, ed. by Iñaki Azkona Huércanos and Roldán Jimeno Aranguren (Arre: Pamiela, 2018), pp. 233-42 (pp. 235-36).
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