Travelling Books: History in Europe and Japan








Last updated on June 21, 2024 1:44 am

Discover how travelling books sparked cultural exchanges between Europe and Japan, and how they live on in the digital era, with the British Library and Keio University.

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Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in European and Japanese literature, printing and historical books. Those who want to explore the lessons that can be learned by comparing books from different cultures will especially enjoy it.


We would like to acknowledge the following experts for providing valuable contributions to this course:

Kristian Jensen, Former Head of Collections and Curation, the British Library / Chair of the Consortium of European Research Libraries

Karen Limper-Herz, Lead Curator, Incunabula & Sixteenth Century Printed Books, Western Heritage Collections, the British Library

Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections, the British Library

Alessandro Bianchi, Bodleian Japanese Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Japanese-English translation by Daichi Ishikawa, an English Literature specialist at Keio University.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to…

Explain how books from different cultures interacted and promoted a cultural exchange between the East and the West.

Summarise the role of Jesuit missionaries in exchanging book cultures between the East and the West in the 16th century.

Compare the European-type books printed in Japan in the 16th-century and their European counterparts.

Identify the traces in the early books that can tell you about past readers and collectors.

Identify the similarities and differences in the physical features of the travel books that make them easy to carry on a journey.

Explore how illustrations in travel books (fiction and non-fiction) help the reader to imagine the places that they have never been to or can visit only in fantasy.

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    Travelling Books: History in Europe and Japan
    Travelling Books: History in Europe and Japan
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