Pop Bibliography

Course Information

Instructor: Allie Alvis
Location: Los Angeles
Mode: In-person
Dates: August 5–9, 2024
Tuition: $1200.00


The most common place people encounter book history is not in the library, but through popular media – although “history” is often rather loosely applied to the chimera-like objects created to represent “old” books. Pop Bibliography is the study of the production and reception of bibliography through this media lens. In this course, we will trace the origins of frequently seen physical attributes of depictions of “old” books back to their historic sources, and extrapolate the processes of remediation, context loss, and embellishment that led to the popular concepts of what rare books and manuscripts ought to look like. We will also explore the commercialism at the core of these depictions, engaging with fandom and Bookishness as group markers that companies gain financially from cultivating. The course will wrap up with ideas and conversations about how Pop Bibliography presents new opportunities and challenges for the rare book field, both in terms of working with students and the public and increasing awareness of book history as a concept.

Participants in the course will benefit from interacting with special collections material, visiting off-site institutions, and hearing from industry professionals who have a hand in making or selecting the books that become Pop Bibliography.


As Pop Bibliography covers so many aspects of global book history, a specialization in any particular aspect of bibliography is not required. A short list of readings will be sent to participants before the course, to be completed before the course commences. Additional brief readings will be assigned over the course of the week. Participants may benefit from bringing a laptop or tablet, but these will not be required.




Completion of this course helps to meet requirements for one of the following certificate requirements:

  • 1 of 3 elective credit courses for Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice