visuel Cédric Vigneault, Enssib

Rencontre avec Ester C. Peric, doctorante à l'université de Naples, chercheuse résidente à l'Enssib

1. Can you introduce yourself and your background? Can you explain us why you chose Enssib for this stay in France?

My name is Ester C. Peric, I’m a PhD candidate at the Scuola Superiore Meridionale, an international school of higher education and research institution in Naples. I developed a strong interest for printed books since taking my first course of Bibliography, held by prof. Neil Harris at the University of Udine, where I earned both my BA and MA in Italian Philology and Literature. Among my main research interests is the history and development of early modern book trade – which is the subject of my monograph Vendere libri a Padova nel 1480 (Udine: Forum, 2020) – as well as analytical bibliography and printing techniques. My doctoral research focuses on publishers’ catalogues inserted by Conrad Gesner in the second volume of his Bibliotheca universalis (1548), as valuable sources to investigate printers’ output and marketing strategies, with a special focus on the dynamics of loss and survival of sixteenth century editions. As I had to choose a destination to fulfill the 12-months research stay abroad that is mandatory in my Phd programme, I thought that the Enssib could offer both an educational framework in as well as an easy access to library resources, which are crucial to my research.


2. You have spoken several times to Enssib audiences, you even offered a MasterClass to our students, how did you find this audience, did certain elements strike you and why?

Speaking to Enssib audiences has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to share my research and insights with what I found to be a highly engaged and interactive community. I’ve particularly appreciated the students’ eagerness to ask questions and make observations, and I was struck by their attitude towards applying theorical concepts into practical tasks. They also seem to enjoy a lot the hand-on sessions on ancient materials.


3. You have worked in many establishments, in France, the United Kingdom, Austria... have you been surprised by professional and/or academic practices or perspectives that are different from the habits of your country?

In the past few years I have had the opportunity to study in libraries and academic institutions across several different countries, including the UK, Austria and France. One of the most striking differences I have observed is the stronger interest, compared to Italy, in book and library history, not only among specialists but also among the general public. This is reflected, in the UK, in the bigger efforts made by libraries to reach out to the public and share information through various events and activities. In contrast Italian academy tends to have a more traditional approach to education and scholarly discussion, with less emphasis placed on public outreach and engagement. In France, I have been impressed by the accessibility and openness of libraries, which provide welcoming spaces for people to socialize and access a wide range of resources. As concerns the Enssib in particular, I was struck by the abundance of spaces available for studying and reading, as well as for leisure activities. Classrooms are, compared to Italian standards, better equipped to support individual and group learning, and the library provides spacious and comfortable workstations. I also appreciated the variety of common areas where students and staff can eat, relax or socialize, as this informal setting greatly contributed to my positive experience here.


4. Among the libraries visited or documentation center (in France), can you tell us something that you found particularly surprising, innovative or exciting?

During my time in Lyon, I was able to get familiar with both the Diderot Library and the Bibliothèque Municipale. Visiting the Diderot Library was an extremely exciting experience, as the conservators granted me and prof. Walsby direct access to the stacks, so that we could pick a selection of books to discuss during the Sammelband 15-16 workshop last November (Sammelband 15-16 | Enssib). This first-hand, non-mediated approach was very helpful in granting a comprehensive knowledge of the collections’ history and a great chance to explore freely the library’s holdings. As for the BM, I’ve had frequent occasion to use the réserve, and to examine several incunables, especially rare editions that are not to be found elsewhere. Among my research interests there is indeed that for the most technical side of the printing process in the hand-press period, and especially the transition from the one-pull to the two-pull press. Examining the library’s collections I appreciated the abundance of books in their original bindings, many of which show a French, often a Lyonnaise, provenance.


5. In the end, what will Enssib and your stay in France bring you?

My stay at Enssib has brought me many valuable experiences and opportunities for growth. I really appreciated the chance to live an immersive experience in the culture and history of a Renaissance center like Lyon; getting to see the very places where the printers I’m studying (Sébastien Gryphe, for example) worked in the sixteenth century provided me with a deeper understanding of the historical context. Also, my time at Enssib has provided me with precious opportunities to discuss the results of my research in public and receive valuable feedback. I really enjoyed the format of the ‘midis-de-la-recherche’, both as part of the public and as a speaker (Présentation de l'ouvrage d'Ester Camilla Peric "Vendere libri a Padova nel 1480" | Enssib). I really liked the format, which allowed for more informal and spontaneous interactions with the audience, a refreshing change from more formal academic settings. Also I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the series of seminars of the Gabriel Naudé research center, as a more formal and structured occasion to discuss my ongoing research with other experts in the field (Séminaire du Centre Gabriel Naudé | Enssib). Both events provided a great opportunity to engage in stimulating discussions, which helped me to refine my ideas and improve the quality of my work.


Propos recueillis par Thomas Chaimbault-Petitjean
Le 30 mars 2023