Nana Citron

Visiting Predoctoral Fellow (Oct 2022-Sep 2023)

Nana Citron is a Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway, where she is part of the ERC-funded project BE4COPY (Before Copyright). In 2019 she obtained her BA in Culture and Technology and in 2022 her MA in History and Theory of Science and Technology from the Technical University of Berlin. In 2022 she joined Department I of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science as a Visiting Predoctoral Fellow to enhance the work on her PhD project, which focuses on the knowledge tradition of women in the early modern printing business and its interaction with printing privileges. Her project is supervised by Marius Buning (research group leader of BE4COPY) and co-supervised by Matteo Valleriani (research group leader at the MPIWG).


Imprint of the Nuremberg printer Katharina Gerlach, showing her printing privilege and name. Source: Mathesius, Johannes. [1579]. Der erste Theil der Historia Unsers lieben Herrn und Heilands Jesu Christi … . Nuremberg: Gerlach and vom Berg’s heirs.

Nana’s dissertation deals with female printers, their knowledge culture, and its connection to printing privileges in the early modern period. The introduction of printing in Central Europe in the fifteenth century contributed fundamentally to the dissemination of knowledge, which in turn influenced the cultural and scientific identity of Europe. The early modern book market provided the crucial material infrastructure for the dissemination of knowledge at that time. Early modern print shops had different and complex tasks to perform and were run by people with different skills and specialized knowledge. To date, historical research has focused primarily on the men who filled these positions and who thus shaped the early modern book market. However, as imprints of early modern books show, there were many cases in which women took over their husbands’ or fathers’ printing businesses after their demise.

The aim is to trace, with the help of case studies, the role of these women in the early modern printing trade of Germany. On the one hand, the role of privileges in the continuation and takeover of a print shop will be comprehensively addressed, and on the other, the interaction between men and women in the context of co-owned print shops will be targeted to find out how their respective knowledge resources enabled and influenced cooperation.

The project, which brings about a convergence of history and philosophy of science on one side and book history on the other, also draws on methods from the digital humanities, feminist epistemology, and sociological theories.