Structuring Information: Printed Tables as Organizing Tools in Early Modern Europe
Ashley Gonik entered the History PhD program at Harvard University in 2017. She is a book historian who studies the material aspects of intellectual practices in early modern Europe. Her interest in text–image relationships developed during her MA in the History of Art at the University of York (2016), where she wrote her dissertation on three sixteenth-century historical tables. She was a Pforzheimer Fellow with the Harvard Map Collection in 2018, and she has proudly served as a student organizer for the Early Modern Workshop and the Harvard-Yale Conference in Book History. She also holds a BA in History with a minor in Jewish Studies from the University of California, Berkeley (2015).
This dissertation traces the production and reception of printed tables across myriad humanistic and scientific genres between 1450 and 1650. Ashley is interested in uncovering how tables were produced and in achieving a holistic understanding of the commercial distribution and reception of these material texts. For example, she investigates whether certain tables were manufactured from metal type or woodblocks and considers the intellectual and economic ramifications of each possibility. Simultaneously, she gathers evidence of the use of printed tables, especially annotations by contemporary readers. Her goal is to study printed tables as a continent-wide technological and intellectual challenge that had to be addressed in each case at the level of the print workshop. Since her primary interest lies in the materiality of printing, she also evaluates adjacent forms, such as printed music and scientific illustrations, which posed similar production challenges that can shed light on the most common means by which tables were printed. The table is an artificial tool of human ingenuity; it must be constantly made and remade on the page and in the mind. This research destabilizes our assumptions about tables and the print medium through which they were constructed.