Time Machines - Reading the Renaissance Libraries of John Dee and Gabriel Harvey: Public Lecture

Speaker: Earle Havens
Date: 4 PM, June 15, 2017
Venue: The Edward Worth Library, Dr. Steevens' Hospital, Dublin

Time Machines

Few inventions have served us better, or longer, than the technology of the book. Books are the only purpose-built "time machines" that have ever truly worked, safely and reliably transferring knowledge across the centuries. Today’s digital technologies only enhance the power of old books to yield up new discoveries. "The Archaeology of Reading," a recent rare book research initiative, excavates historical evidence long hidden in plain sight, in the form of manuscript annotations recorded nearly 500 years ago in the margins of books. For the first time this work is allowing us to recover, and to compare systematically, the individual habits of two different readers from the distant past: the ambitious Elizabethan courtier and "professional reader" Gabriel Harvey; and the legendary alchemist, astrologer, and "magus" John Dee.


Earle Havens (Ph.D., Yale University, History and Renaissance Studies) is the William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Sheridan Libraries, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University.

His scholarly work concentrates on the history of the book, in particular print and manuscript culture from the late Middle Ages to the middle of the eighteenth century. Dr. Havens’ most recent research has focused on surreptitious printing, book smuggling, and scribal culture within the Roman Catholic underground in Elizabethan England and continental Europe; as well as research on the history of literary forgery in the early modern period.

Havens has served as curator of over a dozen major rare book, manuscript, and museum exhibitions, and teaches seminars on the history of the book and European cultural and religious history to undergraduates and graduate students at Johns Hopkins, most recently: Revolutions of the Book: The Transformation of Knowledge in Europe from Antiquity to the Renaissance and Enlightenment; Halls of Wonder: Art, Science, and Culture in the Age of the Marvelous, 1450-1750; Heaven on Earth: History, Art, and the Material Culture of St. Peter’s and the Vatican; Literature and Truth: Forgery and Theory from the Renaissance; The Renaissance Dialogue with the Past: Humanism in Europe, 1300-1600.

In addition to his recent work, Dr. Havens serves as Principal Investigator on recently received grants of over $500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2013-16) in support of an ongoing digital humanities initiative, “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe,” in collaboration with Co-Investigators, Lisa Jardine, Centre for the Studies of Lives and Letters, University College London; and Anthony Grafton, Department of History, Princeton University. This digital and analytical team research project explores the history of reading practices in 16th- and early 17th-century Europe, focusing comparatively on the extensive libraries and manuscript marginal annotations in books by Gabriel Harvey, John Dee, and Isaac Casaubon.

A joint event hosted by the Irish Research Council New Horizon Research Project: Mapping Readers and Readership in Dublin, 1826-1926: a new cultural geography, and the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.

Podcast: The Invention of Journalism

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) has made available a podcast with the lecture by Professor Pettegree “The Invention of Journalism” which took place on November 23rd, 2016.

Click here for the full note at the RIA website.

The Invention of Journalism: Public Lecture

Speaker: Andrew Pettegree
Date: 1-2PM, Wednesday 23 November 2016
Venue: Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Long before journalism had a name, Europe had a fully operative commercial news market, and newsmen had their own strongly felt code of ethics. In this paper Andrew Pettegree charts the emergence of journalism as a professional craft, from the earliest regular news serials, the birth of the newspapers, and the growth of party politics, through to the mass media of the modern age. He asks what lessons history has to offer to a craft under pressure from bewilderingly rapid changes of media platforms and the proliferation of new media outlets.


Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of over a dozen books on aspects of European History, The Reformation and, most recently, the History of Communication.

His study of the early news world, The Invention of News, won Harvard University’s prestigious Goldsmith Prize, awarded annually by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government. Andrew Pettegree's most recent book Brand Luther: 1517, Printing and the making of the Reformation was published by Penguin USA in 2015.

This lecture is supported by the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, Marsh's Library, and the Irish Research Council-funded project 'Mapping readers and readership in Dublin: 1826-1926'.