Incunabula and medicine: a workshop

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By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits

On Friday 20 May 2016 the Wellcome Library will host a one-day workshop on incunabula and medicine. This event will reflect broadly on the relationship between the earliest printed books and medicine. Topics will include: medical illustration in incunabula; the relationship between medical incunabula and medical manuscripts; ownership of incunabula by physicians and other medical practitioners; change and diversity in medical printing between the 1470s and the 1490s. The year 1501 will not be considered an absolute dividing line: speakers will also reflect upon printing and medicine in the early 1500s. A selection of the Library’s incunabula will be on display throughout the day.

Astrological image in incunabulum.

Woodcut on verso of title-page in EPB Incunabula 2.b.2: Joseph Grünpeck, De pestilentiali scorra, sive mala de Franzos ([Augsburg]: [J. Schaur], [1496]). Wellcome Images L0063950.

Venue: Mendel 1, Wellcome Trust Gibbs building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.


10:00–10:15    Coffee and registration

10:15–10:30    Richard Aspin and Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library): Welcome

10:30–11:30 Session One: Medical Incunabula

Sabrina Minuzzi (Oxford), ‘Everyone has his own “Cibaldone”? Text transmission and copy-specific features of a  15th century vernacular regimen sanitatis’

Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library), ‘Responding on the ground: incunabula addressing pestilence and the French disease’

11:30–12:00    Coffee

12:00–13:00 Session 2: Medical Provenance

Julie Gardham (Glasgow), ‘Syphilis and secrets: two Glasgow collectors of medical incunabula’

Laura Nuvoloni (Wellcome Library), ‘The libraries of physicians of the past and the feasibility of their virtual reconstruction’

13:00–14:30 Lunch and viewing of display of Wellcome Library incunabula

14:30–16:00 Session 3: Incunabula and Manuscripts

Alice Laforêt (ENSSIB, Lyon), ‘Reading, annotating and copying: the manuscript aspects of early printed herbals’

Greti Dinkova-Bruun (PIMS, Toronto), ‘The “Cyrurgia magna” of Bruno Longoburgensis in the binding fragments held by the library of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto’

Peter Murray Jones (Cambridge), ‘Medical images between script and print’

16:00–16:30 Tea

16:30–17:00 Vivian Nutton (UCL): Respondent

The workshop is free to attend. To register, please contact Elma Brenner ( by Tuesday 17 May.

Elma Brenner

Elma Brenner

Dr Elma Brenner is the Wellcome Library’s subject specialist in medieval and early modern medicine. Her research examines the medical and religious culture of medieval France and England, especially the region of Normandy. She is also interested in the materiality of early books and manuscripts, and the digital humanities. For her publications, see She can be found on Twitter @elmabrenner.

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