Hands-on Book History Pedagogy

Course Information

Instructor: Ryan Cordell
Location: Los Angeles
Mode: In-person
Dates: August 12–16, 2024
Tuition: $1200.00


The term “book history” is not singular, but instead names a richly interdisciplinary constellation of subjects and methodologies drawing from cultural history, material culture studies, bibliography, critical theory, the history of technology, and many more traditions. Scholars also teach book history across a wide range of departments, institutions, instructional levels, and pedagogical settings: from dedicated graduate seminars, to units in undergraduate survey courses, to one-off instructional sessions in library archives, to cite only a few examples. 

Given this diversity, a comprehensive introduction to book history pedagogy in just one week would be impossible. Instead, this course will take a practical and collaborative approach, helping students develop strategies for their specific teaching situations by developing a shared library of existing pedagogical resources, classroom activities, and assignments; workshopping students’ own teaching materials; and participating in example “book history labs” meant to prompt discussion and inspire new ideas. 

The precise content of the class will be shaped by the specific backgrounds and interests of its students, but topics will likely include:

  • Choosing effective and compelling assigned media for distinct teaching situations (e.g. course level, course type, unit length)
  • Creating hands-on activities and assignments that compliment and enhance assigned media 
  • Cultivating cross-campus—or even cross-institutional—relationships for collaborative pedagogy
  • Developing a personal teaching collection of book history materials
  • Building capacity for offering and sustaining hands-on book history teaching infrastructure (e.g. book labs, maker spaces)

While taking an expansive view of what might constitute “experiential” pedagogy, the course will emphasize “hands-on” teaching, from archives sessions to letterpress printing to zines to 3D fabrication. The class will include a number of hands-on activities, including work in UCLA’s new community print lab, as well as guest sessions run by experts teaching book history across different pedagogical situations.






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
  • a Pedagogy or Applied course for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice