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Rare Book School at the University of Virginia

Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Teaching the History of the Book

Terry Belanger & Daniel Traister


Preliminary Advices

In this RBS offering, we will be leading a series of discussions about pedagogical approaches to teaching the history of the book on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The reading below will constitute the texts for the discussions. Building on these conversations, each student will have an opportunity to prepare and present to the group an individual session on some topic in the history of the book as a practicum. This will allow everyone to engineer his/her own "experiment" before the term begins.

The reading is a small sample from a huge literature now available on any and every aspect of the history of the book. We have selected individual titles either because they have achieved the status of a "classic" in the field or because they are provocative and provide an interesting perspective. If we have overlooked your "favorite," please do let us know.

Required Course Reading

Robert Darnton, "What is the History of the Book?" in Daedalus, 111:3 (Summer, 1982), and frequently reprinted.

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962). Yeh, it's been around a while. But it still provokes. And it is still in print but obscenely expensive!

Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, tr David Gerard. The Coming of the Book (London: Verso, 1997).

Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (1972; corr edn 1974 &c.; pb: New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 1996).

Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History hb; also in paper (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).

Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). The introduction for sure.

Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright; also in paper (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993).

Randall McLeod, "Fiat Flux." In McLeod, ed., Crisis in Editing: Texts of the English Renaissance (New York: AMS, 1994). Also known as Random Cloud, Randall M Leod, et alii. A genius, at once eccentric and persuasive.

Richard Lanham, The Electronic Word (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Geoffrey Nunberg, ed., The Future of the Book; also available in paper (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).

Jerome J. McGann, Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism; also available in paper (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading (New York: Penguin, 1997).

D. F. McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts (London: British Library, 1986).

________, "Printers of the Mind," in Studies in Bibliography, 22 (1969); full text available online at this link.

William Sherman, John Dee: The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995; pb edn 1997).

Alvin Kernan, Printing Technology, Letters, and Samuel Johnson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987; pb rep 1989).

Harold Love, Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-century England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993; pb rep 1998).


This should be enough for the first day. Additional works may be found on Dan Traister's home page: <http://dept.english.upenn.edu/~traister>.

See especially: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister/hbp.html