Thanks to the great generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Iowa hosted the 2016-17 Mellon Sawyer Seminar – Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Premodern Eurasia. The seminar was an interdisciplinary collaboration dedicated to mapping cultural exchanges across Eurasia from roughly 400 CE ca. 1450 CE, by focusing on the development, distribution and sharing of manuscript technologies. The program was directed by three University of Iowa faculty members: Tim Barrett (Center for the Book), Paul Dilley (Classics and Religious Studies), and Katherine Tachau (History). The Seminar convened approximately fifteen times over the course of the 2016-2017 academic year, in dialogue with a series of invited speakers who are internationally recognized experts in the various manuscript cultures of premodern Eurasia. Five of the seminar meetings were followed the next day by hands-on workshops at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book, in which participants reproduced historically significant book structures, with their associated materials, under the guidance of conservators. The seminar is also developing an innovative website tracking the development of Eurasian manuscript formats and materials chronologically and geographically.
The organizers of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar wish to thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School, and the many partners on the University of Iowa campus who have helped to make the seminar possible: the Obermann Center, the Center for the Book, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Graduate College, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Office of Research and Economic Development, the University of Iowa Libraries and the Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio.