Eric Holzenberg

H-40: The Printed Book in the West Since 1800

27-31 July 2009


1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: Very helpful and will be useful as a reference in the future. I'm grateful I purchased the books and did not borrow them as I will refer to them and their bibliographies. 2: Yes. 3: I did find some repetition in content (not that repetition isn't useful) but somewhat frustrating while trying to read so much in a short period of time. 4: They were very useful and pertinent—gave an overview of the course. 5: Gaskell and Rota—immensely useful. Steinberg—very interesting; moderately useful. 6: Generally useful. 7: The readings were very useful. 8: Very useful. I suggest reading Rota first if you're somewhat new to the topic area. 9: So-so. 10: Very useful, although much of it was repeated almost verbatim during days one and two. I would recommend that the earlier part of the Gaskell be made mandatory (instead of optional) so that the "background" information (i.e. the period leading up to 1800) could be glossed over more quickly, leaving more time for the main subjects. Also, Rota should be read first, followed by Gaskell (in full); then Cave should be skimmed. 11: The pre-course readings were very helpful and important to the course.


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


1: The workbook was excellent and I will review it from cover to cover when I get home. 2: Yes—very useful. 3: Yes to both questions. 4: Yes. 5: Syllabus not so useful. Course book very informative, very illuminating and will be useful beyond the course. 6: Yes. 7: I did not refer to the syllabus during the week mainly because we had to jump around a bit due to the availability of materials. 8: Yes, helpful. I doubt I'll refer to them much in the future, but they were useful in class. 9: Yes; picture worth several hundred words. 10: Yes. 11: The course syllabus and other materials were useful in class and can and will be used in the future.


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: Papermaking and binding. 2: Probably learning about illustration processes. Level was appropriate. I love the idea of being able to look at a print with a loupe and know what it is. As well as look at a book's paper or binding and be able to date it (approx.). 3: I found the illustration discussions most useful. 4: Specifically—got a better understanding of technology and illustrations. Yes, appropriate. 5: Intellectual level was spot on—EH assumed exactly the right level of existing knowledge and understanding. Exercises for gauging production dates and illustration processes were extremely useful; only digital books were not relevant. 6: Greatest relevance—overview. Intellectual level—generally appropriate. 7: The information about the changes between 1800 to 1900 were the most relevant for my area of study. 8: An immersion in the specifics of the technologies, then being able to see examples was very important. I think we could have had more of this/covered more ground by moving faster through background info that was in our assigned reading. 9: Intellectual level of course—readings need more social and cultural history— lectures for 4.5 days simply rehashed the readings. Little of the lecture added to what I already knew. 10: All of interest and relevance, though much had been covered in Rota and Gaskell. Would have liked more time spent on fashions and trends and dating of bindings, and in identifying printing processes. 11: The course content which covered those aspects of the book as a physical object were most relevant. The intellectual level of the course was very high.


4) If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?


1: It was a delight to read about some aspect of publishing/printing, discuss it in class and then see actual examples. 2: Very well spent—and important to apply our knowledge. 3-4: Yes. 5: SC visits were relevant and enlightening; as was trip to Rotunda exhibition. Trips created variety within course. 6: Yes. 7: The time in SC was well spent. 8: SC visits and book cover exhibit in Rotunda were very valuable. 9: Saw selected titles from SC; alas forbidden to touch and feel. 10: Yes, though I wonder if the Grolier club might be the better venue for this course? It seemed that there were a number of samples available there that were not available here (per EH), or perhaps that the SC people simply hadn't pulled? Would have been nice to see some 3-deckers and yellow-backs, and a sample from the Golden Cockerel Press. 11: The visits to SC were well spent and very informative.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: The professor's experience was invaluable as well as the varied backgrounds of classmates. 2: Hands-on experiences—I am a learn-by-doing person. 3: The breadth of the topics covered have filled in a lot of gaps and will certainly assist me in my business. 4: Found the subject matter in general very interesting. 5: The excellence of instruction, the enjoyable atmosphere created by the instructor and students. 6: Being able to see (and sometimes examine) examples of technological changes we studied. 7: The hands-on activities. 8: Learning more about technology, seeing books, and discussing social implications—both what drove the new technology (and new business models) and what changes did it make for society and the book business. 9: Brief discussions on dynamics between society and books. 10: Hands-on. EH's descriptions/explanations of the technical processes. 11: The ability to see firsthand fine/private press books. The ability to handle materials. The instructor-student rapport was great.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: It would have been nice to see actual printing presses. 2: Perhaps instead of a brief chronology, cover technology one day, illustrations another, &c. And more hands-on experience—like seeing rare books in SC and the group activities to test our knowledge. 3: I would like more hands-on exercises to help reinforce the learning process. 4: Problems with the video/projection equipment caused delays and cut into limited time. Sometimes jumped around too much. 5: Advance warning that there was no need to bring syllabus reading to the class. More bananas during the breaks. 6: Perhaps some evening investigations (homework) to reinforce information from class lectures, discussions and exercises—a little more hands-on activity. A resource list of related readings for future investigation. 7: I would have liked to have had fewer straight lectures, especially when their focus was the repetition of facts from the pre-readings. I would have also liked it if EH had allowed the participants to contribute more because everyone had background and experiences that could have added to the discussions. 8: Move through background info included in assigned readings faster so we could see more books, dive deeper into technologies, and spend more time discussing implications. 9: See answer to no. 5. 10: EH could have been healthy. His back was really bothering him. 11: No improvement. Great course.


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


1: The professor has notes on each item. The items are on the cart. It would be better if they could be matched and numbered sequentially ahead of time. 2: Materials were always handled with care—or we were reminded to do so. 3: Can't think of any other than just keep reminding people how to handle books, prints, &c. 4: N/A. 5: Smooth-cut foams. 7: Everything was handled appropriately. 8: Mostly everything went smoothly and we didn't handle that much ourselves. However, for those not familiar with handling, a mini-tutorial at beginning of class is well warranted. 9: Let us touch the objects. We're all professionals. 10: N/A. 11: None.


8) If you attended the Sunday and/or other evening lectures, were they worth attending?


1: Yes, very valuable, but class until 5:00 and lecture at 6:00 leaves no time to eat. 2: I attended Monday lecture, which was interesting. However, after a full day of learning about the subject in an intense way, I needed to give my brain a rest at night—as well as explore an area new to me. 3: Yes. 4: Monday lecture was interesting, not particularly relevant. Videos so-so. Within the class, really liked Barbara Heritage's presentation on Jane Eyre. 5: Terry Belanger and Stephen Greenberg's lectures were entertaining and informative. 6: National Library of Medicine—yes. 7: Yes, all the lectures were worth attending. 8: Yes—interesting info and good chance to meet others. 9: Sunday was dull; Monday was entertaining. 10: Yes to all. Did not attend Wednesday night because it was not made clear what materials would be available. If there had been something intriguing and/or of relevance I would have attended. 11: The Sunday and Monday evening lectures were well worth attending.


9) Did you get your money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?


1: Very valuable and stimulating. I hope to return. 2: Yes, absolutely. 3: Absolutely! I'm already planning the next course to take. 4: Yes—can't wait to take another one. 5: Undoubtedly. The course, the instruction and RBS's organization were of the highest quality. I look forward to returning to RBS as soon as possible. Thank you! 6: Money's worth: absolutely. 8: Mostly. Overall, a great experience, although I felt like I didn't get enough benefit of the knowledge of instructor, as he spent so much time reiterating the readings. 9: Instructor obviously rude to several members of the class, i.e. snide comments, answers, or just ignoring the question/comment altogether; and obvious favoritism to others. Instructor forced upon the class members the need to socialize at coffee breaks. Sometimes not listening for a bit is restful. 10: Yes (re: $). 11: The tuition is a bargain. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in the history of the book. EH enlivened the course content greatly.


Number of respondents: 11




Institution gave me leave: 54%

I took vacation time: 9%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 36%



Institution paid tuition: 18%

I paid tuition myself: 27%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 54%



Instution paid housing: 27%

I paid for my own housing: 72%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 0%



Institution paid travel: 27%

I paid my own travel: 72%

N/A: lived nearby: 0%


There were 1 rare book librarian (9%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (9%), 1 general librarian with no rare book duties (9%), 1 teacher/professor (9%), 4 antiquarian booksellers (36%), 1 book collector (9%), 1 Special Collections public services librarian (9%), and one university administrator (9%).