H-90. Teaching the History of the Book

Michael F. Suarez, S.J.

Aimed at academics and librarians who are currently teaching undergraduate or graduate courses dealing with the history of books and printing, this course will emphasize not history but pedagogy. It will compare a number of different approaches, including (but not only) printing history as the history of technology, history of art, intellectual history, business history, descriptive and historical bibliography, the dissemination of texts and their reception. The course will consider the varieties of currently available print and (especially) non-print resources available to instructors and students in the field.

This course will investigate different ways of thinking about, designing, and conducting a course on the history of the book. It is a course, not on the history of books and printing, but on the teaching of that subject.

Three assumptions inform the plan of this course: (1) the current realities of pedagogy in the academy define the context in which such courses must be conceptualized and practiced; (2) the distinction between history of the book courses directed at undergraduate and graduate students is fundamental; and (3) the range of resources available for such courses is both large and – primarily as a result of the Web – growing. The first purpose will be the assessment of some of the strengths and weaknesses of differing approaches to the subject. The second purpose will be the investigation of resources available to teachers and students in this field. Rare Book School’s extensive collection of resources for teaching the history of the book will play an integral role in this course. The third purpose is to help teachers planning or already engaged in teaching history-of-books-and-printing courses to find additional techniques or approaches that may help such courses to be more productive and enjoyable for student and teacher alike.

The intention is to consider the options and resources open to instructors – whether full- or part-time academics or librarians, or others – who are either currently engaged in teaching such a course, or who will begin doing so in the coming academic year. In their personal statement, applicants should describe the courses they are (or hope be) teaching. We encourage applicants to provide a sample course syllabus, whenever possible.

Participants should plan to bring a laptop with them to class.

Course History

Michael F. Suarez, S.J. teaches this course.
Daniel Traister co-teaches this course with Ann R. Hawkins.
Daniel Traister co-teaches this course with Terry Belanger.
1997 & 1999
Daniel Traister co-teaches this course with Michael T. Ryan.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

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Michael F. Suarez, S.J.

Michael F. Suarez, S.J.

Michael F. Suarez, S.J. is Director of Rare Book School, Professor of English, University Professor, and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia. A Jesuit priest, he holds four masters degrees (two each in English and theology) and a D.Phil. in English from Oxford. His recent books include The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume V, 1695–1830 (CUP, 2009), co-edited with Michael Turner, and The Oxford Companion to the Book (OUP, 2010), a million-word reference work co-edited with H. R. Woudhuysen. In 2013, Oxford University Press published his edition of The Dublin Notebook, co-edited with Lesley Higgins, in the Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and The Book: A Global History, co-edited with H. R. Woudhuysen. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, and delivered the 2015 Lyell Lectures at the University of Oxford.

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