Printing at the Margins: A History of Women Printers

Current faculty: Kathleen Walkup

Description: Women have been active in the printing craft and trade since 1476. Using materials from the Bancroft Library and Mills College as well as books from the instructor’s library, the seminar will examine the complex intersection of women and printing in Europe and America ranging from the incunabula period to the fine press and incipient book art movements in the 1970s. Printers will include the nuns at the convent of Ripoli (Florence, 1476), Charlotte Guillard (Paris, 16th century), Ann Franklin and her cohort (American Colonial era), Emily Faithfull and the Women’s Cooperative Printing Union (19th century), Virginia Woolf, Nancy Cunard, Anaïs Nin and Caresse Crosby (20th century Modernism), and California artists and printers from the 1970s, along with many other women who have labored in the field. Our material book study will include a hands-on session on the handpress and the platen press in the book art studios at Mills. This class is suitable for all levels of knowledge of book history, including those with no prior instruction. Topics will include women’s work and literacy histories, challenges to labor including women and the trade unions, women’s role in the rise of the private press, 20th-century publishing, and the origins of women and book art in the 1970s.

Years Taught: 2017