Professor Cristina Dondi

Professor Cristina Dondi

  • Oakeshott Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities

Profile

As Secretary of the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), I foster the collaboration between scholarship and libraries with heritage book collections, for the production of international, collaborative digital resources which enhance historical research.

I support and foster the use of high quality research data in the promotion and effective communication of our book heritage with digital means; see the website, video stories, and striking images of the Incunabula of Monastic Libraries in Italy, launched in April 2020, a collaboration of the National Central Library of Rome and CERL, funded by the Polonsky Foundation.

In 2017 I was awarded the Order of the Star of Italy by the Italian President, for my work on the European printing revolution and in support of European and American libraries.

Research

I work on the European printing revolution (1450-1500), using the half a million of books which still survive today as historical sources, to understand who used them, and how. This bottom up approach is finally disclosing how European society, transitioning from a medieval to an early modern period, reacted to the technological innovation wrought about by the invention of printing with movable type: issues of trade, the cost of books in comparison with the cost of living, literacy, the transmission of texts in print, the circulation of ideas. The international database Material Evidence in Incunabula, which I developed in 2009, contains data from 50,000 books, that is 10% of the total, contributed by a network of over 400 European and American libraries and over 200 editors. In the database, and in a visualisation suite, we track the movement of each book over time and space, as well as the formation and dispersal of collections. We are also investigating the reasons, political, economical, or religious, behind the migration of cultural heritage. The project started in 2009 with a British Academy grant and significantly progressed with a ERC Consolidator grant during the period 2014-19. To celebrate the end of the ERC project and share its surprising results with the general public I organised a large exhibition in Venice, Museo Correr and Marciana National Library (1 September 2018–30 April 2019): Printing Revolution 1450-1500. Fifty Years that Changed Europe. It received 200,000 visitors from all over the world and thousands of enthusiastic messages.

Publications

Printing R-Evolution and Society 1450-1500. Fifty Years that Changed Europe, ed. C. Dondi (Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2020), 978 pp. doi: 10.30687/978-88-6969-332-8.

Printed Books of Hours from Fifteenth-Century Italy. The Texts, the Books, and the Survival of a Long-Lasting Genre, Biblioteca di Bibliografia Italiana, 204 (Florence: Olschki, 2016).

‘The European Printing Revolution’, in The Oxford Companion to the Book, 2 vols, ed. Michael F. Suarez and Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford: OUP, 2010), I pp. 53-61; repr. in The Book. A Global History, ed. Michael F. Suarez and Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford: OUP, 2013), pp. 80-91.

A Catalogue of Books Printed in the Fifteenth Century now in the Bodleian Library, ed. A. Coates, K. Jensen, C. Dondi, B. Wagner, and H. Dixon, 6 vols (Oxford: OUP, 2005).