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Scholarly publication in the seventeenth century: Oxford, Cambridge and the 'learned press'

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Rachel E. Holmes.

During the course of the seventeenth century the two English universities greatly expanded their printing and publishing operations.Previously, Oxford and Cambridge had tended to use their privilege to print theological tracts, bibles, prayer books, and text books. But progressively through the 1600s senior academics argued that the universities had a special responsibility to disseminate new knowledge and learning. This proved to be technically challenging and costly to do, and their legal right to print as they pleased was questioned, not least by the Stationers’ Company. At a time when there were still attempts to censor and control what was published, when investment in the printed word (as now) was a high risk business operation, and before the establishment of clear rules of copyright, a picture emerges of a vibrant, vigorous but volatile publishing world that unsettled minds and was a precursor of the Enlightenment.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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