History of the Book, 200-1820

Current faculty: Susan M. Allen

Description: An inclusive survey, from manuscript to print to the end of the hand press era, supported by original materials wherever possible, aimed at those who have had no previous formal exposure to the history of the book and who want a broad, introductory overview of the subject. This course will be organized around format changes and technological transitions in book production, and their cultural impact. The course will introduce some theoretical issues in the current scholarship on the history of books, printing, authorship, and readership, including models and methodologies. However, understanding of and appreciation for the book as material object will be emphasized.

This course aims to provide an introductory vocabulary and a structure for students who wish to explore the history of books and printing through the hand press period. Topics include: the introduction of the manuscript codex, the impact of the invention of handmade paper, the growth of literate culture, the invention of movable type and the impact of printing on scholarship, science, and religion, the marketing and distribution of books, the rise of a reading public, and the transition to machine-powered printing at the beginning of the 19th century. Classroom instruction will emphasize giving students the opportunity to see and handle a broad range of manuscript and printed books, bindings, and printing equipment at research libraries in Southern California. While focusing primarily on Western Europe and North America, the development of papermaking and printing in Asia will be noted.

Requirements: No previous experience necessary.

Years taught: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015

Leave a Reply