Ellis Tinios

I-85: Japanese Illustrated Books

23-27 October 2006 DC

1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: In general, very useful. Some assumed a background in Japanese Edo period history which I don’t have. Going back and reading the material now, I understand more. 2: Very useful, especially for someone previously ignorant of Japanese history. Essential as a foundation for understanding cultural developments and context in which the books we considered were produced. 3: Very useful. 4: Good. It gave me background information to engage in the course. 5: Terrific recommendations. I especially appreciated the Hillier suggestion, as I had a very limited knowledge of Japanese illustrated books to begin with. 6: Readings gave a good background to various different elements of the course. 7: I found them very useful. The readings on Edo period history and society laid an important foundation. 8: I read most of the pre-course readings before attending, and they are directly connected to the course material. 9: Very useful. I read them all, even as much of Hillyer as I had time for. 10: Most useful. Instructor might consider assigning even more pre-course readings. 11: Very; engaged self in additional chapters in required readings.

2)   Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: Yes, useful during the class and will be a good reference tool at work to work on our library’s Japanese illustrated books. 2: Yes. His handouts are a work in progress, yet already extremely useful, providing a distillation of essential information. History, chronologies, drawings of book forms, terminology, description of major schools &c. A great reference document to which I’ll definitely refer. 3: Extremely useful; I would be referring to the content after my return as a face the challenge of cataloging pre 1868 Japanese language resources, including illustrated books. 4: Yes. I particularly liked the handout, because ET used it during the course and went over it again at the end of our workshop. 5: I am so thrilled to have the worksheet on cataloging Japanese books. It will be an invaluable resource! 6: Yes, these were very appropriate and will be extremely useful in the future for cataloguing research and teaching purposes. 7: Yes, they were important in class and will probably be helpful to me in the future. 8: Excellent, they will be used frequently. 9-10: Yes. 11: Yes; ET willing to accept comments/suggestions to improve for next course time.

3)   What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: Course content - overview of the printing industry during the Edo Period. I found the medical books and prints at NLM quite fascinating. Conservator’s methods of preservation and mending. What daily life was like for Japanese and how books fit into the different social classes. Discussion on how to catalogue the book. Intellectual level was a bit higher because I don’t speak Japanese or have extensive knowledge of the history, but I still got a lot out of the course. 2: As a graphic designer who also designs books, I was most fascinated by the graphic quality of the images, how they varied from artist to artist, yet all were reproduced with wood block, even the most delicate and sinuous of lines. Also, the aesthetic range, from the very understated color of the Lhon to the bright, even garish color of the Ukivane style books. 3: The two aspects: historical derivation and interrelationship of artist/various schools of art in the Edo period, illustrated clearly and succinctly by our instructor; and unique development of book illustration in the Edo period. The level was appropriate. 4: Looking at many digital and actual books will help me to identify the value and rarity of books. Yes. 5: As a newly inducted enthusiast for Japanese illustrated books, I would say that our viewing periods were the most important and interesting aspects of the course. I think that with the background reading in tow, the intellectual level of the course was spot on, if not a little challenging. 6: I particularly enjoyed learning about the publication history of the material and how to interpret the various parts of the books. Also, seeing such a wide range of material and different versions of the same book. The intellectual level was just right for me -- very informative but not in the slightest bit dry. Very accessible. 7: The instructor’s presentations and the viewing of original material. 8: Information on Japanese terminology and cataloguing was of relevance to me. The intellectual level was appropriate. 9: My interests are somewhat distinct: social, political, contextual. Most of the other students were involved in library or museum work. The instructor bridged the gaps valiantly and usually successfully. 10: The last two days were of the greatest interest for me. The sessions at the LC and NLM and Friday morning’s session on the use of publishers’ advertisements to date printing. Intellectual level appropriate. 11: Historical and cultural backgrounds; readings filled in gaps when class time was for other topics; ET generous with suggest readings.

4)   Was time devoted to studying original materials at the Library of Congress and National Library of Medicine well spent?

1: I found both site visits valuable. I also think it was good to get a break by visiting a different place than the FS and sitting in a classroom. 2: Yes and no. LOC, definitely. But for students come from all over and may not come to DC again, more time should be allotted for the LC visit for a tour of the Great Hall and other LC highlights. In a way, a visit to the Freer Gallery Japan collections would be more useful than NAL for the time spent and distance traveled. Also, 2.5 hours with no break after arriving during thick morning commute was tough. 3: Yes. I wished to have a bit more time spent with original materials at both institutions. (TB -- we could receive via email, ahead of time, a set of slides on LC as part of preliminary reading materials.) 4: Yes. But I couldn’t see materials very well, especially in the LC. 5: Superbly well-spent. 6: Definitely. Each institution gave us an opportunity to see quite different material and discuss different issues. Staff at both institutions gave excellent presentations. 7: Yes, very. 8: Yes. 9: I was disappointed in our visit to the LC. We did not see nearly enough, or hear enough of interest, I thought. Michael North at NLM brought his much smaller collection much more alive, I thought, even thought it was somewhat tangential to me. 10: Very well spent. What LC and NLM staff had to say was most interesting and instructive. Instructor’s participation in these sessions tied it all in with what we’d been discussing in class. 11: Yes and no. Felt rushed. Maybe have one or the other as an outing; NLM more interesting than LC simply because the context was very different from what was presented all week.

5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: The passion and joy in which the instructor teaches the course. The variety of student’s professional backgrounds. The images in the presentation and seeing the actual books. Plenty of opportunity. 2: Fellow students were all very congenial and interesting. ET is an excellent lecturer, very well organized, articulate, knowledgeable, and responsive to students’ inquiries or dialogue. His PowerPoint slide shows are great, as enhancement for looking at the books themselves. 3: Exposure to the original materials with good commentary/explanations by instructor, including a few other examples accompanied by explanation of details of production of original materials. 4: Professor’s comments about the importance of particular books where displayed digitally and physically. The enthusiasm of the professor. Comments from participants. 5: ET’s enthusiasm for the course amplified the inherently engaging material to new heights. 6: ET was an excellent teacher -- enormously knowledgeable and inspiringly passionate. The pace of the course was well-varied with an excellent balance of slides, discussion, viewing of books, etc. the slide presentations were superbly researched and put together, and the handbook material was very useful. Of course, seeing so many superb Freer/private collection books was another highlight. 7: As in #3, I appreciated the instructor’s enthusiasm and obvious love of his subject, and all the original material we got to see. 8: The cozy interaction with the instructor. The instructor’s style and flow of presentation. The chance to see many important books close up. The instructor’s thorough discussion and explanations. 9: The instructor’s passion for the subject, and the other students. 10: See #3. In addition to this, I learned much from fellow students and auditors, especially the conservators. 11: ET and his excitement; books too.

6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: More information should be provided those from out of town in navigating the Washington DC area. Many students relied on locals to find restaurants and directions. 2: N/A. 3: Adding a few useful web sites in the preliminary reading list. Adding additional bibliographic resources published in Japan and elsewhere here in USA/UK. 4: If professor can explain more about different school of painting at the earlier period of the course, using example would be helpful. 5: The course could be a little longer, perhaps a week and a half. There seemed to be so much to say about each important book, one could only hope to spend as much time as possible drawing out all the artistic, social, and historical issues. It might be nice to actually sit down and write our own catalogue descriptions, provided with some help reading the Japanese. There is something gratifying about cataloguing! 7: I think a little time spent in describing the process of cutting, inking, and printing the wood block would have been helpful on either the afternoon of the first day or the morning of the second. Also illustrations of the knives, barens (sp?) and brushes would add to the one’s appreciation of the process and the final result. 9: I have pretty fierce concentration, but at times I felt overloaded and a bit dazed by the intensity. Some levity now and then? More movement, more class involvement? But I appreciate that the swift and relentless pace means we covered a lot of material. Calisthenics? A room with a view? Yoga at lunch? 10: I would’ve liked to have learnt more about the use of illustration in fields like medicine, natural sciences, social sciences. But that’s a personal interest. The course as designed and presented was extremely well constructed, well paced, well illustrated, and well argued. 11: Difficult to say; course more than met my expectations.

7)   We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by our host institutions. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1: Don’t have any suggestions. It seemed okay to me. 2: We handled the books very little, but we were able to view several of them in small groups while a staff member turned the pages. 3: It’s well-done in the tray. 4: I think no handling of book by students was good. Smithsonian staffs turned pages while a group of students observing. 5: I think great caution was taken to preserve the integrity of the books. The Smithsonian staff were incredibly helpful and generous with their time to personally show us the material. 8: No suggestion because the instructor is careful and knows how to handle a book in a safe and proper way, and the institution’s staff helped. 9: None. 10: The combination of PowerPoint and actual materials worked well, allowing us to cover a lot of ground quickly but still getting exposure to the items themselves. 11: More book viewing. Carefully done. Very chilly yet comfortable.

8)   If you attended the Sunday reception and/or dinner, were they worth attending?

1: I could go either way on this. It was nice but it made having an early start on Monday quite difficult. I think a nice breakfast/brunch spread on the first Monday would be better. 2: Yes. It was a great way to get acquainted with fellow students before class began. I felt very welcomed by the occasion. 3: Yes. It’s always nice to learn from fellow students outside of your class time. 4: Yes. It was very good for me to get to know some people. One participant of the course even showed me how to use the subway after the reception. 5: Very much so. It was a pleasure getting to know everyone before the intense focus required by the course began. 6: Yes. A relaxed way to meet each other before the course began. 7: Yes. The dinner was very enjoyable. 8: N/A. 9: I arrived late, but was glad to have met people before the first class. 10: Yes, having met classmates at the dinner, I attended the first class meeting without any of that first-day sense of strangeness. No distraction from the subject of the class. 11: N/A.

9)   Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?

1: Definitely, I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in JIB. Do the readings, but don’t worry if you don’t understand something. It comes together in the course. Final thoughts: there is nowhere on this evaluation to evaluate the instructor. EL was exceptional in his presentation, knowledge and keeping the students interested, but he seemed to get anxious a few times that we were running out of time. He shouldn’t have. In my opinion, he covered more than enough material and adequately answered student’s questions. 2: Absolutely. It’s an amazing, informative, intensive class in a remarkable place. The only frustration was being at the Smithsonian every day and having to choose between lunch and seeing some of the fantastic exhibits taking place right in the building. Class ended at 4:55 and the museum shooed us out at 5:25. 3: Yes. It was very fortunate that I was able to attend this specialized session. It would be nice to have an advanced/follow-up course. 4: I would encourage other people to take this course if the person is working in a large institution holding many those illustrated books because the course as very informative and educational. However, I may hesitate to talk about the course to a person from a small institution with now Japanese illustrated books. It is excellent course, but it is a still pricey. 5: I cannot convey just how grateful I am to RBS for allowing me the opportunity to attend what has been an incredible course and brilliant “introduction” to a rich body of material with which I was not terribly familiar. I’m so inspired, I want to run off to Japan and work for a museum with a large rare books collection! 6: Yes. An extremely useful yet hugely enjoyable experience. 7: Yes, I got my money’s worth. My advice for others considering taking the course would be: take it. 8: This course gives full value to anyone interested in Japanese illustrated books. A great deal of extremely useful knowledge was imparted. 9: For me, it was expensive, not being part of an institution. Perhaps ‘private citizens’ might get a break? On the other hand, ask me if it was worth it when I sell the book! (Joke.) 10: I’m very glad I took this course and would recommend it to anyone. I would suggest, however, doing more than the required reading beforehand (for those not already quite familiar with the subject). 11: Take the class for two reasons: ET and the visuals.

Number of respondents: 12



Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

72%                            54%                            36%                            54%

I took vaca-                I paid tui-                  I paid for my              I paid my own

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

0%                              18%                            27%                            18%

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              scholarship                home

27%                            27%                            36%                            27%

There were three general librarians with some rare book duties (27%), one archivist/manuscript librarian (9%), one aspiring professor (9%), one conservator (9%), one museum employee (9%), one retiree (9%), one exhibition/graphic designer for a university’s special collections (9%), one novelist (9%), and one editor working with rare materials (9%).