Nottebohm travel grant awarded to Marlena Cravens and Elise Watson

Last year, the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library (Antwerp) launched a fellowship programme for research into the history of the early printed book (15th-18th century) in Antwerp, with the gracious support of the Nottebohm Family Foundation and the Endowment Fund for Books and Literature. Today this scholarship is granted for the second time. Two foreign researchers will receive funding to visit Antwerp for a few weeks for research in the rich library collections.

Marlena Cravens wrote a research proposal that is based in translation studies. Cravens investigates how from 1492 onwards, Spanish texts and translations were used to transform or even erase the languages and cultures of the original population of the Americas. Her sources are books on grammar, ethnography and geography, and biographies of conquistadores. A large number of these are available in the collections of the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. Cravens also takes note of traces of earlier readers, which means the use of physical copies as opposed to digital surrogates is essential for her research.


Elise Watson will investigate how Antwerp printers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century applied their presses to the benefit of catholic people in the Dutch Republic, which was officially protestant. Catholics were a discriminated minority. Earlier publications on this topic focus on specific aspects or details of this trade, but a general and thorough overview is still lacking. Many previous researchers stuck to the national frontiers, neglecting transregional dynamics such as the export of catholic books from Antwerp to the North.


Last year’s recipients of the travel grant, Dr. Claire Eager and Ashley Gonik (MA), have visited Antwerp during the summer. We interviewed Claire Eager about her research questions and the results of her stay in Antwerp.