25. The Book in the Industrial Era: 1820-1914

Michael Winship
(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 appropriate?

1: Very much so. 2: Yes -- some bibliographic methods covered were familiar, but specific applications made them useful. 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 my 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 as 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: The 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 the 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; slides; 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 reading material soon enough, that was a little hard for my background interest -- but the lectures plus ALL of the visual effects and lab study of Lucile really made it all come together. The class 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 course! 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.