Anna Dlabačová

GEMCA research fellow

Institut des Civilisations, Arts et Lettres (INCAL)
Postdoctoral fellow
(« Move-in Louvain », UCL-Marie Curie Actions) 

Research fields

Cultural and religious history of the late medieval Low Countries, religious literature, mysticism, book history, visual culture

Postdoctoral project

Text and Image on the Printing Press: The Complementarity of the Textual and the Visual in Antwerp’s Book Production, 1480-1520 (Supervisor: prof. dr. Agnès Guiderdoni)

In the new media texts and images are inseparable. But how were images used alongside texts during and just after the introduction of the printing press in the transitional age between the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period? Due to the innovative combination of moveable type with woodcuts it became possible to produce books containing text and image on a large scale. Furthermore, printers no longer produced books exclusively for patrons, but en masse for a free market. From the late 15th century onwards, Antwerp became the capital of printing in the Low Countries, attracting pioneers of the new medium from all over the Netherlands and Germany. How did text and image function in the earliest printed books (1480-1520) produced in this emerging European center of urban creativity?
My project focuses on religious texts, which constituted the majority of printed material in Dutch during the first decades of printing. Because the Church did not have a clear strategy concerning the printing press and censorship by ecclesiastic authorities was only employed from 1520 onwards, devotional works offered Netherlandish printers a commercially interesting opportunity for innovation in the Pre-Reformational period. Studying texts such as the Devote ghetiden van den leven Jhesu Christi [The Devout Hours on the Life of Christ] (first edition by Gerard Leeu in 1483) and Tboeck vanden leven Jhesu Christi (first edition by Leeu in 1487) I will analyse the relationship between text and image, both in the production and the consumption of these editions. The strategies of printers and the very nature of woodcuts (made in series, frequently reused, reordered and combined with woodcuts from another series produced for a different work) makes these books important objects for our understanding of religious practice in the later Middle Ages.


Most representative publications

Literatuur en observantie. De Spieghel der volcomenheit van Hendrik Herp en de dynamiek van laatmiddeleeuwse tekstverspreiding [Literature and Observance. The Mirror of Perfection by Hendrik Herp and the Dynamics of Late-Medieval Text Transmission], Hilversum, Verloren, 2014.

Anna Dlabačová, Daniëlle Prochowski and Thom Mertens (ed.), Franciscaanse observantie en religieuze literatuur, Special issue Ons Geestelijk Erf 85 (2014), 225-352.

« The Widow and Her Books. A Pioneering Woman in the Antwerp Printing Trade around 1500 », Bibliologia. An International Journal of Bibliography, Library Science, History of Typography and the Book 9 (2014), 19-41.

« Tauler, Herp and the Changing Layers of Mobility and Reception in the Low Countries (c. 1460-1560) », Ons Geestelijk Erf 84 (2013), 120-152.

« Drukken en publieksgroepen. Productie en receptie van gedrukte Middelnederlandse meditatieve Levens van Jezus (ca. 1479-1540) », Ons Geestelijk Erf 79 (2008), 321-368. [Awarded with the Rijklof Michaël van Goens-prize 2009]

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