32. Type, Lettering, and Calligraphy, 1450-1830

James Mosley
(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 commercial typography.

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 useful.

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 appropriate?

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. 8: 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 the class.

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 to 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 identification wasn't covered. (In other words, the description of the course was perfect.)

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 excellence 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 the 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 made 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 subject. Learning about the relation between letterforms and social, cultural, and technical history. 10: The instructor was superb!

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 how. 8: A bit more emphasis on letterforms in their physical context -- ink, paper, page layout, and whole books -- would help to balance the extreme close-ups seen in the slides. More time spent handling books, even if not ``high spots,'' would help; so would one of those handy RBS books of photocopies -- of whole 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 Collections. Getting these publications (perforce) paged from the Special Collections stacks is impractical because the time outside RBS class when Special Collections is open is so limited. Examples of such ordinary publications: the current volumes of ABPC, BPI, ABHB, Quaerendo. Such publications should be shelved 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 refer- ence collection in the reading room of Special Collections is 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 is a very worthwhile course. It is packed with information and conducted by a gifted and charming scholar. The high standards the instructor sets for himself are catching. 7: Thanks for a wonderful week! 8: For those taking the course in 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 letterforms.

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 librarians; two students (20%) were full-time students; two students (20%) were rare book librarians; and one student (10% each) was an archivist/manuscript librarian, a teacher/professor, retired, or had a non-professionally-related interest in the subject.