21. History of the Printed Book in the West

Taught in 1994 by Alice Schreyer (Evaluation of the RBS 1994 version of this course)

Topics include: early printed books; printing materials and processes; bookbinding; typography and book design; authorship, publishing, reading, and the book trade; the book in America and American books; graphic arts and book illustration; the c19 mechanization of the printing trades; c20 fine printing. Intended for those with no prior coursework or extensive reading in the field.

The instructors welcome students from a broad range of academic disciplines, collectors, dealers, and librarians.

I. How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: Very useful, though some more direct reference to the readings during the course would help to reemphasize the material. 2: Only obtainable book was The coming of the book; that was excellent pre-course reading. 3: Very useful; some will be post-course reading. 4: Excellent. They'll mean even more now. 5: Very useful, though I had to ILL two of them and did not have enough time to read them thoroughly beforehand. 6: They were useful, but many were out of print and therefore hard to locate. 7: Good preparation, but many books were out of print, so I had to rely on library copies. 8: Quite useful; perhaps you should have indicated the one to read if we could read only one, the sine qua non. 9: Very helpful. 10: Pre-course readings were very useful -- and very important, considering the amount of material covered. 11: The reading list was very appropriate. I found seven of the eight books in my institution's library; all were very readable. 12: The readings gave me a basic background to build upon when I came to the course. 13: Very useful. 14: Warren Chappell introduced me to several important names that were significant during the course. Now that I am better versed, Chappell might be even more useful following this course.15: Extremely useful. I read one of the suggested (required?) books, which allowed me to absorb the course material more easily and benefit more fully from the course. 16: The two I looked at were fine. I had difficulty locating copies of the other two. 17: Very useful. They really prepared me for this course.

II.Was your faculty member well-prepared to teach THIS course?

1: Definitely, and persevered heroically under unexpected circumstances. I don't know what wellsprings of grace or enthusiasm she draws from, but they are deep and wonderful. 2: Very much so. She had a valuable facility to know how much detail was appropriate for a survey course such as this, yet was able to deal with many questions in depth when asked. 3: Amazingly well prepared. Information was endlessly supplied. AS is a natural-born teacher, with a mastery of her field and an untiring ability to articulate it in a way that is easy to comprehend. She answers questions in widely varying areas with ease and certainty. (She very easily handles teaching the course alone.) 4: Yes in spades! 5: AS was very well prepared, even though Peter VanWingen was unable to attend. I cannot believe that she could continue her high level of enthusiasm the whole week. I was impressed! 6: Absolutely!!! She was superb!!! 7: Yes, but the course could have been better coordinated with the lecturers. 8: Excellently. 9: Yes, AS was a first-class, top-notch instructor. I appreciated her knowledge and ability to transmit this to the class. 10: Yes. I was immensely impressed by her ability to stick to the schedule (and be flexible when necessary) and get all the material (a first in my experience of academic courses) covered. 11: AS is a master teacher. She is extraordinarily well prepared to teach this course. She combines lectures, slide and video presentations, Special Collections demonstrations, and self-tests very effectively. 12-13: Yes. 14: No question about this. She had full and confident command of the subject. 15: Extremely so. 16: Yes, definitely. She adapted well to unexpected and unavoidable changes in the course structure. 17: Yes, very much! 18: Yes, very.

III.How useful were the guest lecturers?

1: Very good idea to hear various views; but coordination of content and delivery is needed, but under the circumstances.... Greer Allen was most informative, Daniel Traister less so. 2: GA's appearances were energetic and informative, intent on clarifying key points of technical knowledge. Nicolas Barker was a delight. However, DT's appearance on Thursday was basically irrelevant to the purpose of the course and left a bad taste at the end of an otherwise fine day. He consumed limited and valuable class time in a crammed survey course. That time could have been devoted to serious and structured treatment of another content area. His winking diatribe on scholars with whom he disagreed and the relativistic cultural polemic he propounded shed heat but little light, divulging more a mannered academic persona than a compelling scholarly perspective. He added absolutely no value to the course and was not what I had in mind when I decided to commit time and money to come to Virginia. Every other instructor I encountered met my highest expectations. 3: GA was excellent in his technological explanations. NB's talk was informative. DT provoked interesting debate. 4: DT put me to sleep (after lunch is not a good time). GA talks too fast in his enthusiasm, but no one dozes in his presentation. NB lulled me with his voice, delivery. 5: NB and GA added a lot to the course. 6: They complemented our instructor exceedingly well. 7: GA added material. DT was interesting but not completely relevant. NB covered material already covered. Would have liked better coordination. 8: Very helpful, especially in view of the absence of our second instructor. 9: NB was excellent. DT spoke 1 1/2 hours and said very little! GA also very good -- quite knowledgeable. 10: They added to the course. 11: The guest lecturers at times repeated material we had already covered in class. Better to have a team teacher than guest lecturers, but unavoidable under the circumstances. 12: The guest lecturers were very helpful in filling in the gaps of expertise of our instructor. 13: Extremely. 14: GA was delightful. NB was systematic. DT was thought provoking. 15: Less useful, but it is good to hear different perspectives and I'm sure that our instructor also needed a change of pace (although she never showed signs of tiring!). We all appreciated GA's enthusiasm. 16: They provided a good variety and differing points of view. 17: Most were very interesting and useful. 18: They were okay, except that DT spoke a long time without saying much. NB was excellent.

IV.Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?

1: Yes -- though more opportunity for structured or directed discussion among ourselves on a limited basis would be valuable. So many interesting people participate, it would be good to learn from them. 2: AS did a good job of balancing the different levels of preparation various students brought to the course; however, future classes need true team teaching with at least two instructors who might pursue various subjects in more detail with smaller groups of students. The letterpress laboratory with GA did this, but similar treatments might have been given to binding and illustration by separate instructors. Perhaps a choice of workshops could have been made by students in the course according to their different interests and preparation. 3: Yes. It was both comprehensive and inspiring. 4: Superb: challenging, but not threatening. 5: Very appropriate. 6: Since I am a novice in the history of the book, yes! I would suggest that the guest speakers try to avoid repeating what has already been covered. At times there was too much review. 7-10: Yes. 11: Yes, very appropriate. 12-13: Yes. 14: Yes, in that it was designed as an overview for those without much experience.15: Yes. In particular, I appreciated the variety of perspective represented by the participants. 16: Yes -- though I would have preferred more detail on some subjects. 17: Yes. It was very challenging and stimulating. 18: Yes.

V.If your course had field trips, were they effective?

1: Definitely. These topics can not be discussed in a vacuum of slides and photocopies. Do need to see, touch, and compare originals. I especially valued working with the RBS lab books -- more of this. 2: Absolutely yes. 3: For this course, the trips to Special Collections were especially suitable, invaluable, and enjoyable. 4: Excellent presentations in Special Collections. Reminded me of John Tedeschi at the Newberry 20 years ago, letting my students handle a First Folio, etc. 5: The three field trips to Special Collections were well worth the time! It was wonderful visiting the collection and seeing the real thing we had been shown on the screen. 6: Absolutely! The use of Special Collections was of particular significance. Actual materials always outweigh the use of slides. 7: Visiting Special Collections and handling books was a highlight for me. Printing was useful to see the skills involved. 8: Yes, very well. 9: Yes, very much so. Nice to see such items in the flesh and have AS elaborate on them. 10: Trips to Special Collections were useful, but I would suggest that more time be scheduled for such trips so that everyone could see the books (and all the books be seen). 11: Very well spent. This was a very important part of the course. 12: Yes -- it was helpful to see first hand examples of the items we were discussing in class. 13: Yes. 14: We made three visits to Special Collections. There is no substitute for seeing the real thing. 15: Yes -- the visits to Special Collections were the high points of the week, the raison d'ątre of this course. 16: Yes. Examples in Special Collections were excellent. 17: Yes. It helped a great deal to actually see the books. We had discussed various techniques in printing, etc., so time with these works helped us to apply what we just learned! 18: Yes.

VI.Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the course in general meet your expectations?

1: Not exactly -- my description said 1500-1800: I got extra value for having pre-1492 and post-1800 history included. 3: Yes. The course met and exceeded my expectations. 4: Yes in spades! This was worth every penny and two full days, six airplanes, to be part of. Thank you! 5: The course appeared to have several titles prior to our arrival, but it still met my expectations. I feel very satisfied with the content and quality of the information I got and will be able to use it in my work. 6: Yes. 7: Yes and yes. I expected to learn a little about the care of books. 8: In general, it did. I was not surprised or disappointed. 9: Yes, I was well satisfied. 10: The course exceeded my expectations. 11: Yes, the course content corresponded to the brochure description and yes, the course met all my expectations (and then some). 12: The course description was a bit vague, but it did meet my expectations. 13: Yes and yes. 14: Yes, the course was as advertised. Because of AS's relentless commitment to quality, it even exceeded my expectations. 15: Yes, this course met and in fact surpassed my expectations in terms of content (depth and breadth) and quality of instruction. I feel that the RBS brochure description communicates very well the nature of the course. 16: Yes. It gave me a good overview of printing history and related issues; rein-forced what I knew already and exposed me to a lot that I didn't already know. 17: Yes. 18: It pretty much met my expectations and it was helpful. I would have preferred, however, taking one time period at a time and exploring it in depth, before moving on to another. In other words, I would have liked a bit more historical context and approach to the subject. In each time period, the major printers could be discussed, examples shown, context given, etc.

VII.What did you like best about the course?

1: 1) The instructor -- four apples!!! 2) The lab book sessions (books and prints). 3) Visits to Special Collections. 4) Expert visitors lecturing. 5) Expert aficionados participating. 2: The trips to Special Collections and other hands-on work with books. 3: The friendly atmosphere, set by the instructor's good nature and the interest of fellow students. Also, finally having an overview of a subject that has long interested me, in a course that was never before available. This one was well worth waiting for. 4: Thoroughness. Breadth, scope. Instructor. Samples. Exercises. Well-chosen slides. Three field trips to Special Collections. 5: The hands-on experience touching the books, especially the exercise to describe a book. AS also -- she is a great instructor. 6: The course was well organized and logically presented. It covered a great deal, but avoided the feeling of being a superficial survey. 7: Examination of books in Special Collections. Meeting other people interested in books and book collecting. 8: AS made it because of her teaching style, willingness to engage in discussion and dialog to the right degree, etc. This was in sharp contrast to the poor teaching style of DT, whose method of presentation got in the way of his message, with which I think I agree, though I could not be sure. 9: AS's knowledge and ability to convey this to the class via lectures, slides, show-and-tell, etc. 10: The presentation of the world of rare books. The instructor made a point of touching on all aspects -- history, technology, etc. 11: I liked the visits to Special Collections and actually seeing the books very much, but I also liked AS's lectures. They were excellent. 12: I enjoyed the instructor's enthusiasm. It generated a good deal of interest and excitement about the subject. 13: Lectures tied to actual objects. 14: AS's disciplined, organized approach that did not sacrifice spontaneity. 15: Special Collections viewing. Hands-on exercises with book pages, illustrations, and RBS books. The instructor. 16: AS was terrific. She's very knowledgeable and speaks well. Course content was very good. 17: Again, working with the books. The trips to Alderman's Special Collections and seeing the collection. 18: Slides and book specimens.

VIII.How could the course have been improved?

1: 1) Provide magnifier loupes to each participant in the lab setting or ask us to bring one. 2) Provide a list of films and videos available on the topics. 3) More video sessions like the one on Sunday night. 2: See 4, above. Additionally, this course might best be offered in two segments, one for the letterpress era and one for the period following. 3: Can't think of any improvement to what is already so well done. 4: It needs six or 10 days. I'm grateful for the concision, but I just panted as we raced through each session. 5: It would have been better to have been able to divide the class when viewing the books in Special Collections, since the group was so large. Maybe having a second instructor would have helped this situation. 6: The course should be limited to, say, a maximum of 12 students. We had a class of 21, which made using Special Collections cumbersome. 7: More coordination between speakers. 8: Probably would have been better with the second instructor -- we had a very large class -- but AS handled it excellently. 9: I think much was presented in such a short time. I see no real way for improvement, given the time available. 10: Perhaps less time on the manuscript tradition; I can't say much as I don't have much to compare this course to. I was very impressed with everything, from the administrative matters of RBS to the course. 11: Can't think of any way. 12: Fewer slides could be shown, with more hands-on viewing of materials. 13: Fewer jaunts back and forth. 14: This is a fine course for taking at the beginning of one's RBS career. 15: I have no improvements to suggest, other than perhaps having two sections (different weeks?) of this course to permit smaller class size. 16: I would have liked to go into many subjects in more depth. I would have been willing, for example, to do additional reading during the week. 17: Perhaps more lab work. 18: See 6, above. Maybe, too much is trying to be squeezed into the course. Perhaps learning to recognize different types of illustrations should really not be a part of this course and the course focus more on the history of the book.

IX.Any final thoughts?

1: Bravissima! More than I hoped for. All that I expected! Will always remember and value friends, associations, BOOKS! 2: Any survey course has limitations, but this was essential and worthwhile. 4: Take it. Go to bed early. Enjoy your classmates. Be prepared for cloudbursts. Leave the preparatory reading texts at home. Bring hangers and laundry soap. Get an ATT calling card. The Jefferson Bank closes at 3pm, not 3:30 if you need to cash Traveller's Checks. 5: It's an important course and I would highly recommend it. Read as much as possible ahead of time. 6: Read as much of the suggested reading as you can. 9: I highly recommend it as a place to understand the book and its development through time in Western civilization. A basic starting point! 10: Read the reading list -- I would have been lost without some background. 11: Do the reading ahead of time. 13: Excellent course as a basis for other RBS courses -- take it first! (Offer it in the first week???) But also, because of the huge amount of material, consider two courses: one covering 1450-1800, and one from 1800 to the present. 15: I would certainly recommend this course with great enthusiasm. A lot of ground is covered, but concrete, material examples guide you through the wealth of information. Actually, AS does the guiding. She is a marvelous instructor with a mind- boggling command of this field and material and an admirable capacity to keep a course like this on track, interesting, lively, and fun. 16: This course is a very good way to get an over-all sense of the major developments in the history of Western printing. 17: People should definitely do the required reading before coming here. It helps to have a general background before arriving. 18: AS did an excellent job teaching, was lively and entertaining. There was no sign that she had recently taken on the whole responsibility for the course.

Number of respondents: 18
              
Percentages

Leave         Tuition        Housing        Travel

Institution   Institution    Institution    Institution
gave me leave paid tuition   paid housing   paid travel

72%           64%            45%            39%

I took vaca-  I paid tui-    I paid for my  I paid my own
tion time     tion myself    own housing    travel

0%            36%            33%            39%

N/A: self-    N/A: Self-     N/A: stayed    N/A: lived 
employed, re- employed,      with friends   nearby
tired, or had retired, or    or lived at
summers off   exchange       home

28%           0%             22%            22%

Three students (15%) were general librarians with unspecified rare book duties; two students (10%) were rare book librarians; two (10%) were rare book librarians and archivist/manuscripts librarians, and one student (6% each) was an antiquarian bookseller, an archivist, a collector, a conservator/binder/preservation librarian, a library paraprofessional, a museum employee, a teacher/professor, a teacher/professor and archivist/manuscripts librarian, a teacher/professor and general librarian with unspecified rare book duties, was semi-retired, or retired.