History of the book

History of the Book is one of our students’ favourite courses and therefore it will be repeated in March 2021 in a new format. For the first time, the entire course will be livestreamed and given in English, allowing international students to take advantage of this three-day course.

The course will be taught in the classroom at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, but international students can participate remotely via Zoom, synchronously (in real time). Teacher Dr. Goran Proot approaches the subject in a narrative, accessible and interactive way. The course includes a show-and-tell with books from the Museum, and during the course students are invited to handle books from the teacher’s private book collection as well.

classroom Museum Plantin-Moretus

Because it is impossible to fully understand early hand-printed books without knowledge of what came before, the course begins with an overview of manuscript production from antiquity through the Middle Ages. This is followed by a discussion of the introduction of printing with movable type in the West and its consequences for the book trade. Further developments during the 16th through the 18th centuries will be covered, with a focus on typographical evolution. A concise discussion of the evolution of fonts and book bindings allows us to establish the link between the ancien régime and the beginning of industrialisation in the early 19th century.

Course topics include the following: activities in a print shop, actual book production, illustration, organisation of the book trade, customers, libraries and book design. The connecting thread throughout the entire course is the ‘book’ as a material object, as an artefact, and as a source of information and knowledge.


About the teacher, Dr. Goran Proot

  • Dr. Proot started his academic career as a literary scholar, studying Jesuit theatre of the Southern Netherlands (c. 1575 – 1773).
  • In 2000, together with a small team, he launched the Short Title Catalogue Flanders (www.stcv.be), a bibliography of hand-printed books in Flanders and Brussels.
  • He was the organiser of the international conference Book Design from the Middle Ages to the Future in 2011.
  • Dr. Proot was the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Rare Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., from 2012 t0 2014.
  • At the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, from 2014 to 2016, he was the director of both the digital library Mazarinum and the conservation lab.
  • Since 2016, he has worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the EMoBookTrade Project in Milano (Italy), which studies 16th- and 17th-century European book trade.
  • Since 2018, he has been a part-time curator at Cultura Fonds Library in Dilbeek near Brussels.
  • Dr. Proot teaches Design Theory and the History of Graphic Design at Sint Lucas (Karel de Grote Hogeschool) in Antwerp.
Show and tell incunables

Teacher: Dr. Goran Proot

Enrolment fee: €420
Students who graduated less than one year ago from an institution of higher education (hogeschool or university) are entitled to a 20% discount. This discount is also valid for students at and graduates of the Plantin Institute of Typography.

Dates & Times:
Three Saturdays in 2021: March 6, 13 and 20.
10:30 a.m. – 4:40 p.m. Central European Time

Location: Local students may attend the lessons in our classroom at the Museum Plantin-Moretus, Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium.
People who are not able to travel to Antwerp may attend via Zoom.

Enrol by filling in this form or by sending an email to plantin.instituut@antwerpen.be