25. The Book in the Industrial Era: 1820-1914
(Evaluation of the RBS 1994 version of this course; note that the
prerequisites for this course have been changed since 1994)
The physical description of c19 American and English books. A
major part of the course will consist of small, supervised
laboratory sessions in which students will study various manufacturing
and publishing patterns. Restricted to those who have taken the
RBS course Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography (see below,
course no. 54), or those who already have a good basic knowledge of
bibliographical description, including format and collation, of
books produced during the hand-press period.
1. How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Very, very helpful; they were lengthy, but worth it.
2: Quite useful. 3: I didn't get the pre-course
reading until one week before I knew I was coming. 4:
Gaskell and Bowers -- essential. BAL exercise fun and enlightening, if
sometimes more bibliography than one wants. 5: The pre-
course readings provided an excellent background for the course,
although I did not have time to read all the suggested titles.
6: They were fine, I suppose, though given the experience
that students were to have before arriving, Bowers and Gaskell
should have been familiar. 7: Quite useful.
2. Did your instructor prepare properly and sufficiently to
teach THIS course?
1: In every way. 2-3: Yes. 4: He was well
prepared and qualified. 5: MW's background and depth of
learning/knowledge were quite evident. Course was well organized
and proceeded at an appropriate pace, with each day building on
the previous. 6: MW has been preparing for more than 20 years
to teach this course. It shows. 7: Yes.
3. Was the intellectual level of the course content
1: Very much so. 2: Yes -- some bibliographic
methods covered were familiar, but specific applications made them
3: Yes. 4: It was for me -- others may have had much
more knowledge than I. 5: I learned a tremendous amount
about c19 book production. The level matched my expectations for
a course aimed at professionals seeking to expand their background
into new territory. 6: It varied; the difficulty in
teaching the course is that the experience levels of the participants
varied so much. Things that were old hat for me were not so for the
person next to me, and vice versa. 7: At times, I felt that the
level was too low, that much of it was a review of what I already
knew, but in general I think it was appropriate and I often
appreciated the review and the different spin that was put on
things I did know.
4. If your course had field trips, were they effective?
1: Yes -- trips to Special Collections and the Rotunda both
worthwhile. 2-3: Yes. 5: Visiting Special Collections
is one of my favorite pastimes. I think it is good in a week-long,
intensive class to have a break for a field trip. I found the
presentation of the printing history of Leaves of grass
quite fascinating and an appropriate illustration of what we had
been discussing in class. I also enjoyed the Warren Chappell
exhibition. 6: Very much so. 7: Yes.
5. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS
brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the
course in general meet your expectations?
1: The course met every expectation and exceeded many! We
covered a tremendous amount, all interesting and very related to
job and interests. What little review we did (less than 10%) was
timely and helpful. The course really exceeded expectations in
terms of lectures/talks by MW. In this I would disagree with the
Expanded Course Description which suggested that the course would
be ``mainly'' individual lab sessions. I enjoyed the course just
it was (our labs were great) but would change the description to
reflect that a lot of the course is fine lecturing plus
question/answer. 2-3: Yes. 4: Yes -- the concentration
was on c19 and he covered it exceedingly well. 5:
course contained more lecture/discussion than the description
indicated. However, I think that the balance between this and the
hands-on portion was excellent as the morning session provided
background for the afternoon lab. 6: Yes. Yes. 7: I
cannot remember the exact wording of the description. I think I
expected the course to include more practice sessions and doing
actual descriptions, but I am not disappointed.
6. What did you like best about the course?
1: Subject matter; readings; patience of instructor;
anecdotes; citations for further reading. 2: Instructor's
knowledge of and enthusiasm for subject made the course very
interesting; also a good balance of theory and practical
application and examples. 3: Since I didn't have the
material soon enough, that was a little hard for my background
interest -- but the lectures plus ALL of the visual effects and
study of Lucile really made it all come together. The
size was small enough that we could all see the books, &c., as he
was talking about them. 4: The mixture of very practical,
down-to-earth descriptions with some highly theoretical questions
on which we could ponder. It was a healthy combination of a
non-academic approach with intellectual stimulation. MW's use of
primary sources was fascinating. 5: The way it was structured --
good instructional design -- and the relaxed atmosphere. Also, MW's
enthusiasm is infectious. I shall not be so timid in approaching
c19 materials in the future. In fact, MW, I thank you for making
the ``bibliographically inconvenient'' so bibliographically
accessible. 6: The hands-on experience with the books and
the specifically c19 elements -- the course really got cooking
for me when distribution, cloth bindings, and mechanical presses were
discussed. 7: I think I liked the exposure to working with
publishers' records the best. This is something I've never had
occasion to do. Also, although I'd seen pictures of the various
machines, it was very helpful to have it pointed out which lever
did what, where the paper was fed though, etc. I also liked the
holistic approach to it all -- the discussions were wide-ranging
and stimulating and MW was very receptive to our questions and interests.
7. How could the course have been improved?
1: Send out syllabus earlier? Just a suggestion, perhaps
impractical. 3: Rooms NOT so cold. 5:
I would suggest having each participant choose a particular book
to work on throughout all the lab sessions. That way everyone would
be able to take away an example of bibliographic description as it
pertains to one book. 6: There was too much time devoted
to matters which should have been working knowledge. Quasi-facsimile
transcription and collation appeared unfamiliar to some members
of the class, which meant valuable time lost.
8. Any final thoughts?
3: Get more sleep! It was great -- I really enjoyed the
5: I highly recommend this course. It is well thought out,
structured but flexible, and well-punctuated with anecdotes which
illuminate the instruction. It also gives one an opportunity to
learn how someone else approaches bibliographical description, and
why. (Best of all, the instructor's socks match!) 6: MW has
spent more time looking at and thinking about c19 books than anyone
else you're likely to meet. He makes it look easy, but his
``casual'' knowledge is anything but -- he is one of the most
knowledgeable and candid people around.
Number of respondents: 7
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
72% 72% 72% 72%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
14% 14% 14% 28%
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
14% 14% 14% 0%
Five students (72%) were rare book librarians, one student (14%)
was a full-time student, and one student (14%) was retired.