Call for Papers: ‘Theatrum Libri: The Press, Reading and Dissemination in Early Modern Europe’ (Deadline 30th June 2021)

Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania kindly invites you to an international academic conference ‘Theatrum Libri: The Press, Reading and Dissemination in Early Modern Europe’ (Martynas Mažvydas’s Readings), which will be held on December 1-2, 2021 (Vilnius, Lithuania/Virtual).


In the early modern period, the word theatrum (Latin for “theater,” area or work, space of action, arena) was used quite often metaphorically in book titles, for example, Theatrum mundi, et temporis (“World and Time Theater”), Theatrum politicum (“Theater of Politics”), Theatrum cometicum (“Theater of Comets”), Theatrum botanici (“Theater of Plants”), Theatrum patientiae (“Theater of Suffering”), Theatrum virtutum (“Theater of Virtues”), and others. The representatives and publishers of the Renaissance and Baroque era very quickly realized the appeal of the word “theater,” which usually meant the accumulation, systematization, and orderly sorting of inexhaustible knowledge on a subject. One of the most famous works of that time is the encyclopedia Theatrum vitae humanae (“Theater of Human Life” or “The Life of Man”) by the Swiss humanist, doctor Theodor Zwinger (1533-1588). The book presented systematical and comprehensive information about man. In this historical period, the archiving of knowledge was understood as a conscious and purposeful action.

The conferences invites participants to look at the printed book and manuscript as an archival phenomenon in terms of content (accumulation of knowledge) and form (accumulation of books). The conference is also aimed at the reflection on the creation of the book and its structure, the press, its dynamics in socio-cultural processes, highlighting the role of the author, publisher, distributor, reader, and book collector. Since the narratives of the past are created by both selected individual elements of the book and personal or institutional archives, the topic of the presentation can be very broad and varied.


The library encourages scholars from various disciplines to reflect on and share their new research, methods and applications, including the application of digital humanities and open data in research of the book:

– The 15-19th century book as an archival phenomenon (accumulation of knowledge and books) in Lithuania and Europe;

– The role of knowledge accumulators and book collectors, systematizers and sorters in forming a personal or institutional archive;

– The materiality of the book and its various elements (book marks, structure, parts, details, a title page, covers, inscriptions, typography, illustrations, vignettes, decorative elements, etc.) as a means of generating ideas, tool for creating a narrative or result of historical circumstances;

– Book economics: market and business strategies (prices, book fairs, catalogs, advertising, and reviews);

– Applying digital technology and interactive, unique tools for data storage and use.


Conference venue: Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Gedimino Ave. 51, Vilnius. Participants who travel from abroad will be accomodated to present their papers on-line.
Conference language: Lithuanian, English (simultaneous translation).
Duration of the presentation: 20 minutes.


The deadline for sending abstracts (up to 200 words) is June 30, 2021. Abstracts should include name, affiliation, and an email address. Please send them and other inquires to the following email address: skaitymai2021@lnb.lt Articles based on the conference papers will be published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal ‘Aktualu rytoj’.

Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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