In a nutshell


An intensive 5-day programme on reconstructing (historical) book ownership as a cultural phenomenon. Both private and institutional book ownership will be studied.


Stadscampus, University of Antwerp, Belgium. Visits to Antwerp libraries and to the Plantin-Moretus Museum will be part of the programme.


2-6 September 2019


Master students, PhD students and postdocs intending to integrate book historical approaches into their research, and with an interest in the history of libraries, private book collections and the history of reading. A maximum of 20 participants will be accepted.

External partners

Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library (Antwerp), Museum Plantin-Moretus (Antwerp), Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).

Course description

‘Tell me what you read, and I will tell you who you are.’ This proverb summarizes an increasingly popular direction in the burgeoning field of book history. The books collected and owned by private individuals can tell us a lot about their political and religious backgrounds as well as their scientific, literary and intellectual preferences. A private library often functions as symbolic capital, and most readers have an intimate relationship with their books. Today, numerous of these private historical collections are kept in national and research libraries.

This summer school is all about reconstructing historical book ownership. The different types of sources containing information about readers and their books in the past will be explored. The speakers propose methods that can be used to collect and interpret information gathered from catalogues, inventories, archival sources and the physical books themselves. Additionally, it offers a series of novel perspectives illustrating the vitality and relevance of this field of research.

The idea of the summer school is to inspire students and researchers. A group of international experts will offer the necessary approaches, tools and ideas to start exploring the fascinating world of book ownership in the past.


Successful completion of the summer school can be awarded with 3 credits according the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Credits will be awarded on the base of 100 % (active) participation during the course and a paper to be written in consideration with the programme coordinator. Participants who pass the evaluation will receive a certificate of successful completion. Recognition of the credits in your home curriculum should be agreed upon with your home institution. In this regard, a course information sheet can be provided. Participants who attend at least 90 % of the classes, but do not write a paper will receive a certificate of attendance. 

Registration fee


Fee includes course material, coffee breaks, lunches, the summer school dinner and a farewell reception. It does not include housing.

University of Antwerp Students are entitled to a refund of €150 after completion of the summer school.

Application details

Online through Mobility Online before 15 May 2019.