As an academic discipline book history is young. It is a flourishing field on an international level, and well established in countries such as England, France and the US, but the discipline is also fast growing in other countries such as India and Japan. Lund University, where book history was introduced in 1991, is the only academic institution in the Nordic countries to offer courses both on an undergraduate and graduate/PhD level. But book history research is being pursued also in other disciplines such as literary history, history, art history, and many others. The digital communication shift brings to the fore a growing need of knowledge and understanding of different forms of communication, how they influence and are in turn influenced by society and culture. All verbal communication requires some form of technology whether analog or digital - for example handwriting, printing, or digital coding - and all graphic documents, from inscriptions in stone to e-books, have a form and are material. How form and materiality look, influence the reception in what is being communicated. This is the fundamental point of departure in book history: A document, a book for example, is produced, distributed and consumed. All these processes are studied within book history. Accordingly a book historian can study technical questions as well as the book market or aspects of reading and literacy. The document in question - be it a newspaper, a book, or a digital file - is part of a legal, administrative, economical, and cultural context - a fact that generates many interesting problems and many possibilities to approach varying perspectives of different conditions and meanings of human communication. The connection between document (books, newspapers, forms, adverts, posters and so on), man and society is important within book history research, as is also the idea that a graphic technique and its products are both results of human activity and at the same time factors influencing the actions of men and society.
The Book History Department
The Book History Department is housed at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. Apart from Professor Henrik Horstbøll, present holder of the chair in book history, there are two post graduates, two PhD-students with doctoral positions and several other doctoral students in the final phases of their work. The most important collegial network is the Nordic Book History Forum with a program of several annual research seminars in Lund and Copenhagen. We also collaborate with Copenhagen University, with several seminars in Lund, with Swedish literary historians, historians of ideas etc, as well as with book historians in other countries.