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Imprinting the Centre – the launch of the Centre for Printing History and Culture

Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham

The Centre for Printing History and Culture, a joint initiative between Birmingham City University (BCU) and the University of Birmingham, was launched at an event entitled ‘Imprinting the Centre’ at Winterbourne House, Birmingham on Wednesday 25 November.  The Centre consists of academics, curators, librarians and printers from across the region and seeks to encourage research into all aspects and periods of printing history and culture, as well as education and training into the art and practice of printing.

Caroline Archer, Professor of typography at BCU, described how Birmingham is the ideal city from which a Centre of international renown can be developed.  ‘Birmingham is Britain’s most historically important centre of printing outside London. Through its connections with John Baskerville, the famous printer, Birmingham became the centre of European printing during the mid-eighteenth century’, she concluded: ‘for three centuries the city’s printers, type-founders, engravers, bookmakers, newspaper makers and typographic educators have combined to make the region not only a local but also national and international typographic force’. 

While these local connections and histories provide a rich base for the Centre, its associates and members harbour ambitions that are national and international in scale.  In 2016, the Centre will be running international symposia on the 200th anniversary of the sans serif and the 90th and 30th anniversaries of General Strike and the Wapping Dispute and in 2017, it will host a two-day conference on printing history and culture entitled ‘Printing History and Culture Rebound’.  As described by Christopher Hill, a research fellow appointed to the Centre by BCU, this conference will ‘redress the compartmentalisation of printing history and cultural studies into two disciplines that fail to “speak” to one another’.  By doing so, Chris believes that printing history and culture can provide a window into wider theoretical debates about ‘cultural and material turns’.  The ‘re-binding’ of printing history with cultural studies ‘is important because it re-connects the mechanical and material processes of print with those of cultural dissemination’.

Dr Malcolm Dick, Director of the Centre for West Midlands History at the University of Birmingham, said: “The CPHC cements a strong working relationship between two of Birmingham’s great universities. Starting from a regional base, we are linking academic research and teaching with the activities of museums, libraries, businesses and individuals who are interested in printing history and culture in Britain and beyond. The rare books and archives in the Cadbury Research Library and the printing press in Winterbourne at the University of Birmingham are superb local resources.  The CPHC is a major enterprise for both universities and the people of Birmingham.”  

For more information visit cphc.org.uk



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