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Course Details

Spring 2017-2018
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 some glorious examples of manuscripts and early printed books made between the 4th - 16th centuries CE in the West. We will study the aesthetic and textual programs the books reveal, the production and functions of the book, and the ethnography of reading. We will consider simulacra of books, including facsimiles, critical editions, and digitized texts. Questions include how such textual products should be used; the space of the page; and how that space is shaped by audience and editorial practices.

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
Carruthers, Mary, The Book of Memory
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:
A part of this class will be practical demonstrations and experiments with manuscripts, including the preparation of ink and quills, copying onto parchment, sewing leaves to a binding, studying how scripts formed and evolved, and the problems of reading the often-complicated pages of books. Robust participation expected. Distribution Requirement: British Foundation

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
41075 S01 01:30:00 pm - 04:20:00 pm W        Enrolled:16 Limit:16 Closed