32. Type, Lettering, and Calligraphy, 1450-1830
(Evaluation of the RBS 1994 version of this course)
The development of the major formal and informal book hands, the
dominant printing types of each period, and their interrelationship.
Topics include: the Gothic hands; humanistic script; the
Renaissance inscriptional capital; Garamond and the spread of the
Aldine Roman; calligraphy from the chancery italic to the English
round hand; the neo-classical book and its typography; and early
I. How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Useful. 2: Essential. 3: I managed
almost all of Carter beforehand and found it to be very
useful. 4: Very useful, though some (unavoidably)
difficult of access. 5: Very useful, albeit often
difficult to get. The pre-course material was wonderfully
detailed. 6: Useful -- but too much to do all
beforehand -- will continue on my return home. 7: The
books I was able to find were useful, but I was not able to find
most of the books on the list. 8: Quite helpful. Many I
had seen before, but it was good to do some re-reading with a
specific course in mind. 9: Unfortunately difficult to get
hold of. What I did read was helpful. 10: Extremely
II. Did your instructor prepare properly and sufficiently to
teach THIS course?
1-2: Yes. 3: Yes! 4: Good God, Yes.
5: Indeed. JM is a gifted scholar, engaging lecturer,
and wonderfully witty man. I enjoyed this course very much.
The handouts were worth the price of admission. 6:
Yes, definitely -- excellent bibliography and further reading
lists + several handouts which were very helpful. 7: YES!
8: Yes. 9: Very well prepared and
organized, indeed. 10: Excellent preparation!
III. Was the intellectual level of the course content
1:-2 Yes. 3: Having a minor amount of
background, I found the course contained an enormous amount of
new information. However, it was well presented and most
interesting. 4: Ditto. 5: Very appropriate.
This was a survey course; surveys are difficult to teach because
of breadth. JM handled this course format extremely well.
6: Yes, also covering the historical and artistic
settings for our study of typography. 7: Yes.
Yes -- although a bit more could have been demanded from us
in the way of preparation. We were certainly given
plenty to look at and think about. 9: Yes. It would have
been nice to have more demands made on us, but I don't really
know how this could have been done. 10: Yes -- it appeared
to meet the expectations of the diverse group of students in
IV. If your course had field trips, were they effective?
1-2: Yes. 3: Trip to Special Collections -- was
very nice to be able to see up close examples of what we were
studying. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. The strongest
element of this program is hands-on work with books. The visit
to Special Collections, as well as the Museum, was most
beneficial. 6: Yes -- perhaps more useful later on in the
course schedule. Typemaking was fun. 7: Yes -- even
more time in Special Collections would have been nice. 8:
Yes -- I wish we had spent even more time in Special
Collections, and looked at more books. 10: Yes -- hands-on
experience was a relief after many slides.
V. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure
description and Expanded Course Description? Did the
course in general meet your expectations?
1: Yes. My expectations for the course were based on
my limited knowledge -- the course went far beyond my limitations
give us a basic sensitivity to form and development
that will give us a better framework for further
exploration. 2-5: Yes. 6: Yes, very much so.
Yes. 7: Yes. 8: Yes + yes. 10: Yes.
Although several students had hoped for some insight into type
identification, it was not advertised in the description. We
were not, therefore, greatly disappointed when
wasn't covered. (In other words, the description of the
VI. What did you like best about the course?
1: The shared passion of JM for his field. The
placement of the changes in letterform within a general history.
2: The instructor's generosity. 3: The
instructor! His slides were wonderful, also. 4: The
of instructor, particularly in his ability to relate
developments in typography to other aspects of
political/intellectual/artistic history. 5: The
instructor's wealth of
knowledge, including anecdotal knowledge that helps bridge
historical gaps. The extraordinary slides, detailed and
well-chosen. 6: The relaxed atmosphere in which a vast
amount of information was given along with the excellent
teaching aids -- slides and videos. 7: Relating the
typefaces to the calligraphy of various periods, and
associating them with some details about the individuals who
actually designed and made the type. 8: The
explanations of the production and sale of types was
revelatory. Things I had been told many times before suddenly
sense to me, through the instructor's vast knowledge,
patience, and common-sense approach to the
evidence. The connections made with contemporary art-
historical developments were fascinating; more would be even
better. 9: The instructor's enthusiasm for his
Learning about the relation between letterforms and social,
cultural, and technical history. 10: The instructor
VII. How could the course have been improved?
1: Only if we could each have cast a letter ourselves
-- but thank you, JM, for casting for us. 3: By
added time -- unlikely, I realize. 5: More Special
Collections work. The slides were wonderful, but some more
concrete examples to hold in our hands would be good.
6: I thought it was fine. 7: Can't imagine
8: A bit more emphasis on letterforms in their
context -- ink, paper, page layout, and whole books -- would
balance the extreme close-ups seen in the slides. More time
spent handling books, even if not ``high spots,'' would
so would one of those handy RBS books of photocopies -- of
pages, specimens, or alphabets, so we would have something
handy to refer to after the slide had left the screen.
9: Some form of student participation -- good as the
slides and lectures were, there were a lot of them.
10: I'm not sure that it could be.
VIII. Any final thoughts?
1: A few courses in calligraphy -- studio, not
history -- are
really helpful. Do take the course -- it will give you a
wonderful background for more than just letterform in the
history of the book. 2: One of the attractions of RBS
is the opportunity to use the fine UVa library. But too many
ordinary publications are sequestered in Special
Getting these publications (perforce) paged from the Special
Collections stacks is impractical because the time outside
class when Special Collections is open is so limited.
of such ordinary publications: the current volumes of
BPI, ABHB, Quaerendo. Such publications should be
in the general open stacks, or Special Collections should
place them in a reference collection on open shelves, or the
BAP should duplicate them. Microcards are also inexplicably
shelved in the Special Collections stacks. The existing
ence collection in the reading room of Special Collections
risibly inadequate. Perhaps RBS has brought to Special
Collections a new kind of researcher, more specialized and more
demanding. 3: This was the first RBS course for me. I
am looking forward to next year's offerings. 5: This
a very worthwhile course. It is packed with information and
conducted by a gifted and charming scholar. The high
the instructor sets for himself are catching. 7:
for a wonderful week! 8: For those taking the course
the future: do review the basics of how type is made
and books are printed before you come. Background in the
mechanics of the process is probably more important to an
enjoyment of the course than is background in the history of
Number of respondents: 10
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
20% 20% 10% 10%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
10% 50% 60% 60%
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
70% 30% 30% 30%
Two students (20%) were conservator/binder/preservation
two students (20%) were full-time students; two students (20%)
rare book librarians; and one student (10% each) was an
archivist/manuscript librarian, a teacher/professor, retired, or
non-professionally-related interest in the subject.