The Renaissance Book, 1400-1650

Current faculty: Craig Kallendorf

Description: This course will serve as a comprehensive introduction to the history of the book in early modern Europe, from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth.  Our goal will be to use the holdings of the UCLA Research Library, with a focus on its Aldine collection, the Getty Research Institute Research Library, and the Huntington Library to learn to ‘read’ a Renaissance book, both as a physical object and as a carrier of cultural values.  We will examine in turn how these books were produced, how they were distributed, and how they were used by those who bought and read them.  Topics include

  • the transition from manuscript to printed book,
  • the mechanics of early printing,
  • famous scholar-printers,
  • editing and correcting,
  • woodcuts and engravings,
  • typeface and its meaning,
  • the popular print,
  • bindings,
  • the Renaissance book trade,
  • censorship,
  • the formation of libraries, both individual and institutional,
  • marginalia as clues to reading practices and information management, and
  • researching a Renaissance book, using both print and online sources.

The course is intended for special collections librarians, collectors, booksellers, and scholars and graduate students in any field of Renaissance studies.

Recommended reading:

Primary text:

Andrew Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance (New Haven and London, 2010).

Supplementary material:

 Carter, John, ABC for Book Collectors, 8th edn. by John Carter and Nicolas Barker (New Castle, DE, 2004).

Cavallo, Guglielmo and Roger Chartier (eds.), A History of Reading in the West (Amherst, MA, 1999).

Darnton, Robert, “What Is the History of Books?” in The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History (New York, 1990), 107-35.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1979).

Johns, Adrian, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago, 1998).

Kallendorf, Craig, Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance (Oxford, 1999).

Lefebvre, Lucien and Henri Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of the Book 1450-1800, trans. David Gerard (London and New York, 1976).

McKitterick, D., Print, Manuscript, and the Search for Order 1450-1830 (Cambridge, 2003).

Pearson, D., Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook (London and New Castle, DE, 1994; rpt. 1998).

Scribner, R. W., For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Oxford, 1994).

Sherman, William, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England (Philadelphia, 2008).

Storm van Leeuwen, Jan, “Bookbindings, Their Depictions, Their Owners and Their Contents,” in Eloquent Witnesses: Bookbindings and Their History (London and New Castle, Del., 2004), 30-52.

Lisa Jardine, “The Triumph of the Book,” Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (London: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 133-80.

–a packet of readings will also be prepared by the instructor.

Years taught: 2013, 2015, 2017

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