Launches online on Friday October 25, 2013.
By focusing on materials of a botanical nature, the new digital exhibition Interpersonal Botany examines how people used print to structure and mediate social relationships in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period of global quest for botanical specimens and popular preoccupation with botany, printed matter fostered relationships between individuals within familial settings and intellectual networks, across national boundaries, and among friends. Reading, studying, gifting, and producing printed matter established, reinforced, and even modeled relationships between distant strangers and close companions. Interpersonal Botany includes books, periodicals, letters, friendship albums and birthday books, which variably demonstrate friendly, intimate exchange, act as guides for proper female conduct, or enable the pursuit of scientific investigation. These rare items show the diverse social dimensions of botanical printed materials, suggesting they were something more than items to be read in a solitary fashion; rather, they served as ways of creating community, forming bonds, and sharing information between colleagues and friends.
This special digital exhibition was curated by Parvaneh Abbaspour and Martina Chumova under the direction of Interacting with Print members Tom Mole and Nikola von Merveldt. We gratefully acknowledge the support and collaboration of the staff at McGill Library, especially Ann Marie Holland in Rare Books and Special Collections.