Current Faculty: Devin Fitzgerald

In this course, students will be introduced to approaches to the global history of the book. This course will consist of two components. During the first half, students will be provided with a basic introduction to pre-modern East Asian and European book histories. This part of the course will provide training in the analysis of different types of printed books, with a special emphasis on comparison and analogy. In the second half, we will consider how to use global book histories to integrate new materials into special collections teaching and outreach. By the end of the course, students will be able to navigate the basics of East Asian and Western book histories, and be prepared to engage with thoughtful teaching and collections development. 

This course is neither a substitute for, nor an attempt to replace, more focused courses on the history of the book and special collections instruction. Instead it is conceived of as a laboratory to engage with different printing traditions by considering special collections holistically. By enrolling in this course, students will learn to develop their own approaches to conceiving of global histories of the book. Developing this global sense of the book is especially important as more collections attempt to diversify their collections. Although the focus of the content is on East Asia and Europe, this course will prepare students to engage any global book history with a set of tools and strategies useful for using and building diverse collections of texts in special collections libraries. 


This course should appeal to librarians, students, researchers, and those with an interest in the book trade. Since the course will provide students with an introduction to 1) research, 2) instruction, and 3) basic points to consider in collection development, it is imagined that participants from virtually any background will benefit from enrolling. For librarians, the course will help them consider how to approach existing collections while also introducing them to the basics of collection development. For students in the trade, this course highlights some of the concerns associated with diversifying collections, and also introduces them to approaches to diversifying their offerings. 

The course will be structured as follows:

Theme: History Crash Course

Day 1: The invention of Print

Morning: Inventions of printing – why we need to remove teleological assumptions from the history of the book.

Afternoon: Differences between xylography and movable type for the history of printing. 

Day 2: After the invention

Morning: Illustrated books and the image 

Afternoon: Movable types in Asia/Engraved Books in the west

Day 3: Outliers

Morning: Stereotype/woodblock modernities

Theme switch: Teaching and outreach

Afternoon: But how do I build this collection?

Day 4: Reading to teach

Morning: A crash course through teachable themes.

Afternoon: Overcoming East/West binaries in development and outreach

Day 5: Classroom plans

Morning: Teaching lab

Afternoon: Design and afterword.