New Munby Fellow for 2021-22

We are delighted to introduce the new Munby Fellow for 2021-22, Dr Heather Wolfe, who will be working on a research project on ‘Decoding early modern writing paper’.

Dr Wolfe is Associate Librarian and Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. She is no stranger to Cambridge, having completed her MPhil and PhD research at the University, where her immersion in bibliography and palaeography changed the trajectory of her work and inspired her to pursue a career as a curator in libraries. She has taught and published widely on early modern manuscripts, and held roles as Principal Investigor/Co-Director on a number of major grant-funded projects.

Her research explores the socio-materiality of early modern paper consumption and looks at the long history of our modern everyday paper ‘choices’. It provides a bibliographic methodology for interpreting texts in relation to the nature of their paper substrates. Paper was as varied in the early modern period as it is now, and each variant carries meaning that is now largely lost, but not unrecoverable. For her Munby Fellowship, Dr Wolfe will investigate paper in the University Archives, the University Library’s manuscripts collection, and in college collections and archives, examining watermarks and paper sizes and qualities in relation to textual genres, focusing primarily on unbound material, but also blank books. She is particularly interested in analyzing how a few key paper types are typically and atypically used, and by whom: smaller, thinner, whiter, gilt Venetian paper, traditional everyday French paper, and paper produced domestically by John Spilman. Her time in Cambridge (while the Folger is closed for renovation) will give her the opportunity to explore the collections, refine her arguments, and connect with Cambridge scholars working in similar areas, including faculty, librarians, archivists, and conservators.

Dr Mark Purcell, Deputy Director for Research Collections at the University Library, said: ‘We are delighted to be welcoming Heather to Cambridge again to work on this exciting project. The Munby Fellowship gives researchers an unparalleled opportunity for close access to collections, as well as the time and space needed to undertake in-depth research. Heather’s project will no doubt provide fascinating insights into our early modern paper collections across Cambridge.’

For more information, please see our webpage on the Munby Fellowship.

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