Through a variety of technologies and experiential learning techniques, Presswork: A Program for Hands-on Historical Printing & Research, aims to foster cutting edge student- and faculty-led printing and research at the University of Virginia. The program trains undergraduate and graduate students in the history and art of letterpress and printing, which will be demonstrated to UVA classes, alumni, the general public, and K-12 students. These demonstrations help to expand UVA’s prominence as a leading research center in the history of printing by fostering greater community and experiential learning opportunities.
Key components of the two-year program include production of a short documentary on UVA’s unique historical printing presses, printers-in-residences opportunities, and a scholarship program allowing the Rare Book School to educate UVA students interested in learning about the history of printing. More public facing components involve a permanent exhibition at the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture on the history of printing technologies and their relevance to Thomas Jefferson’s understanding, public roundtable conversations led by internationally recognized printing experts, and free public open houses.
What makes Presswork such a unique opportunity is that very few universities have printing programs in place that are focused on contemporary book arts. Also, no other university in the world has two eighteenth-century period presses positioned side by side, allowing faculty, students, and visitors to compare letterpress and intaglio printing techniques and learn in a hands-on research setting. For more information on Presswork events, watch on the Rare Book School website.