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Involving readers

Practices of Reading, Use, and Interaction in Early Modern Dutch Bibles (1522-1546)
PhD ceremony:Ms R.A. (Renske) Hoff
When:June 23, 2022
Supervisors:S. (Sabrina) Corbellini, Prof, prof. dr. W. François
Where:Academy building RUG
Involving readers

What happens when people open a book and start to read? How do readers move through the text, how do they react to images, and how do they handle the book as a material object? And what happens when these people consider their book the word of God? These questions are central to the dissertation Involving Readers: Practices of Reading, Use, and Interaction in Early Modern Dutch Bibles (1522-1546). Renske Annelize Hoff studies the use of sixteenth-century Dutch Bibles. In her thesis, she discusses, to begin with, the choices made by the printers and publishers of these Bibles, particularly concerning the title pages, prologues, reading schedules, and summaries of the biblical text. Which future readers and reading practices did they have in mind? Furthermore, she analyses traces such as annotations, markings, and corrections, left by historic readers in almost two hundred Bibles. These traces reveal the diversity of the reading public – from priests and countesses to tailors and merchants, and in protestant as well as in catholic circles – and show that these Bibles were often read for decades or even centuries after they were printed. Moreover, early modern Bible readers prove to have been critical and creative: they often corrected the text or added texts or images. By doing so, they created their ideal book. This dissertation displays how, in a period characterized by religious dynamics, people practically manifested their faith through owning, reading, and personalizing the Bible.