History of the Renaissance Book

Current faculty: Devin Fitzgerald & Sonja Drimmer

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 Special Collections, focusing on Aldines and other pre-1600 imprints, the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute Special Collections, and the Huntington Library to learn to “read” a Renaissance book, both as a physical object and as a carrier of informational content and cultural values. We will examine in turn how these books were produced, distributed, and 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.

Years taught: 2013, 2015, 2017 by Craig Kallendorf; 2022 by Devin Fitzgerald & Sonja Drimmer