Never heard of Aldus Manutius? What about Bembo, Garamond and Palatino?

This must be one of the more informative calls for papers (CFPs) that I’ve read in a while. It’s from the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, for a conference at University of Melbourne:

Just a few weeks left to submit abstracts for this year’s conference to be held at the University of Melbourne, 26–27 November.  Closing date for offers is Monday 29th June 2015.  The conference is entitled ‘Turning the Page: Bibliographical Innovation and the Legacy of Aldus Manutius’ and marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Aldus Pius Manutius Romanus, one of the three great pioneers of printing (along with Johannes Gutenberg and William Caxton).  Manutius worked predominantly from Venice during his twenty-odd-year career before passing on the business to his son and grandson.  He had a vision of disseminating Classical culture, much of his output being editions and translations of Greek, and some Latin, texts.  He established an academy of scholars to prepare Greek MSS for printing and even learned and used Greek at home and in the print shop.  A central figure in Renaissance classical culture, his academy corresponded with the circle of scholars like Erasmus and Thomas Linacre in Henry VIII’s London.
Technically and aesthetically, Manutius introduced a string of innovations including typefaces like Bembo, Garamond and Palatino, regularised punctuation, and scholarly introductions, but the innovation for which he is most famous is the italic font.  This was intended not as mode of emphasis, however, but simply as a technique of compaction.  For Manutius saw the advantage of making small-format books that could be carried in an overcoat pocket, and from 1501 printed smaller octavo editions that could be made thinner if printed in italics.
Manutius’s books show the rapid evolution from manuscript pages.  On the one hand his pages have a neat type-bed with justified margins, and occasional flourishes such as tapering column- or page-endings which look very modern, while on the other the books are issued with arcane abbreviation conventions and with indicative blocks awaiting hand-coloured initials in the manner of an illuminated manuscript.  Manutius had a wonderful sense of what these days are called ‘production values’.
Manutius is just the starting point, however, for while the conference is anchored in and celebrates his pioneering achievements, it recognises that innovation and change have been hallmarks of the practice of printing, publishing and book distribution ever since, and invites offers of papers which exemplify, historicise or theorise such developments from all centuries and locations.
The keynote address will be given by founding member of the Society and  former President, Professor Wallace Kirsop.   An expert on French  bibliography,  Professor  Kirsop  has  chosen  to approach  Manutius  and  the  universe  of  biblio-innovation via the compiler of the first serious bibliography of the Aldine Press, Antoine-Augustin Renouard (1765–1853). His talk is  provisionally titled  ‘The  Age  of Renouard’.
Enquiries and proposals of 250 words for papers of 20 to 25 minutes should be sent to Anthony Tedeschi (, Curator, Rare Books, Baillieu Library, The University of Melbourne. The deadline for paper proposals is Monday 29 June 2015. Students undertaking higher degree research are encouraged to submit offers of ‘work in progress’ papers; some travel bursaries will be available.
Further conference details will be made available progressively on the BSANZ Inc. website: