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Rare Book School at the University of Virginia

H-90. Teaching the History of the Book

Terry Belanger & Daniel Traister

Aimed at academics and librarians who are currently teaching undergraduate or graduate courses dealing with the history of books and printing, this course will emphasize not history but pedagogy. It will compare a number of different approaches, including (but not only) printing history as the history of technology, history of art, intellectual history, business history, descriptive and historical bibliography, the dissemination of texts and their reception. The course will consider the varieties of currently available print and (especially) non-print resources available to instructors and students in the field.

This course will investigate different ways of thinking about, designing, and conducting a course on the history of the book. It is a course, not on the history of books and printing, but on the teaching of that subject.

Three assumptions inform the plan of this course: (1) the current realities of pedagogy in the academy define the context in which such courses must be conceptualized and practiced; (2) the distinction between history of the book courses directed at undergraduate and graduate students is fundamental; and (3) the range of resources available for such courses is both large and – primarily as a result of the Web – growing. The first purpose will be the assessment of some of the strengths and weaknesses of differing approaches to the subject. The second purpose will be the investigation of resources available to teachers and students in this field. Rare Book School's extensive collection of resources for teaching the history of the book will play an integral role in this course. The third purpose is to help teachers planning or already engaged in teaching history-of-books-and-printing courses to find additional techniques or approaches that may help such courses to be more productive and enjoyable for student and teacher alike.

The intention is to consider the options and resources open to instructors – whether full- or part-time academics or librarians, or others – who are either currently engaged in teaching such a course, or who will begin doing so in the coming academic year. In their personal statement, applicants should describe the courses they are (or will be) teaching, preferably enclosing three copies of their course syllabus.

Course Resources

Course History


Daniel Traister co-teaches this course with Michael T. Ryan.


Daniel Traister co-teaches this course with Michael T. Ryan.