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Course Details

Spring 2015-2016
ENG 400 / MED 400 (LA)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit

Touching Books -- An Introduction to the History of the Book

Sarah M. Anderson

This course introduces the student to manuscripts and early printed books made in the West between the fourth and sixteenth centuries CE. We will study the aesthetic and textual programs, and the production and functions of the book, including hand-written and printed examples. Turning the (intellectual) page from chronological considerations, we will consider simulacra of books -- facsimiles, critical editions, and digital images. How should each of these textual products be used? What is the space of the page itself, and how is it shaped by audience and editorial practice?

Sample reading list:
Boyarin, Jonathan (ed.), The Ethnography of Reading
Brown, Michelle P., Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts
Clanchy, M.T., From Memory to Written Record
Clemens, Raymond, and Timothy Graham (eds.), Introduction to Manuscript Studies
De Hamel, Christopher, A History of the Illuminated Manuscript
Eisenstein, Elizabeth, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Reading assignments will average about 100 pages per week. In addition, the student must write two short "responses" and conduct two brief discussions (or other projects, individual or group) for the seminar during the term. A Dean's Date paper (20%), shaped by the student's interests in book history, will constitute the final exercise for the class.

Requirements/Grading:
Papers - 30%
Oral Presentation(s) - 20%
Class/Precept Participation - 30%
Other (See Instructor) - 20%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Freshmen.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Although I will focus most narrowly on the British Isles in the early Middle Ages, I encourage students who are curious about scribal culture, the social construct of reading, and the powers of literacy in other periods and places to join this class. Not only are students of literature welcome, but also encouraged are students of music, history, the visual arts, and computer science, etc. Curiosity is required, whatever discipline or interests the student brings to the class..

Other information:
An active part of this class will be practical experiments with scribal culture in the Middle Ages, including the preparation of ink and quills, copying on parchment, study of how scripts were formed and evolved, and study of the syntax of the medieval page (using actual and digital examples). Robust participation is expected. Distribution Requirement: British Foundation

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
43740 S01 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm W        Enrolled:0 Limit:0 Canceled
43890 S02 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm M   McCosh Hall   26   Enrolled:9 Limit:16