Rare Books for Scholars and Archivists

Current faculty: Bruce Whiteman

Description: This course has been designed as an introduction for humanities scholars and working archivists who for professional reasons desire some knowledge of antiquarian books. The focus will be on books of the hand press period (i.e. mainly European books printed before 1820), although depending on class interest we may also extend this period into the machine age of printing. Topics to be covered include analytical bibliography (at a beginner’s level), book production (printing and publishing), book consumption (reading and its traces), the printed book as historical and literary artifact and how this relates to scholarly research, the book trade historically and in the present day, and collecting books, both in a library and an individual context. Some attention will also be directed at cataloguing, and how printed books and manuscripts are treated differently by booksellers and library cataloguers. The course will include visits to at least one local bookseller and one library, in addition to an in-depth tour of and talk about the Clark Library, where we will meet for the week. Students will have ample opportunities to work with rare books during the course.

Basic texts will be the second edition (2013) of David Pearson’s Books as History (British Library) and G. Thomas Tanselle’s Bibliographical Analysis: A Historical Introduction (Cambridge University Press).  A number of articles will be supplied in advance to registered students by the instructor. Carter and Barker’s ABC of Book Collecting (Oak Knoll Press) is always a useful reference work to have at hand, and Leslie Howsam’s Old Books & New Histories (University of Toronto Press) is extremely useful as well.

Years taught: 2013

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