Erin Blake

I-10: Introduction to the History of Illustration

3-7 August 2009


1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: Really, very accurate to the survey of the course. 2: The readings were relevant, although the Harthan is a bit dry (despite thoroughness). 3: Very helpful—a good balance of coverage of the subject—good prep for class itself. The variety of perspectives/approaches was very helpful. 4: Very useful if somewhat daunting. The readings on processes although at times redundant, helped to introduce me to the jargon and basic ideas well enough, but EB's further instruction and examples (class and museum night) clarified the descriptions of processes so that I leave with a much better understanding. Harthan's dense history was a bit intimidating and made me fearful that the class's survey would be as dense—glad those fears were not realized! 5: Very good, although the texts were a bit repetitive. Could have made the few paragraphs in Gaskell optional, or discussed them in class. 6: The pre-course readings gave a good overview of illustration and gave an idea of what to expect from the course. EB solidified the information and added important (and interesting) details. 7: Very useful. 8: They were helpful for someone with little or no previous knowledge about book or printing history. 9: Pre-course readings were excellent and necessary. They helped to provide a good framework. Griffiths' Prints and Printmaking was particularly good. Harthan now deserves a second read. 10: The readings were very useful, especially the Griffiths book—Print and Printmaking. Good preparation for 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: Exceptional, so, yes. The course "notes" typed up by the instructor will be my own annotated reference volume for this area of study. 2: The slide lists and bibliographic packets for the Special Collections and Bibliorama sessions were great. I will definitely refer back to these. 3: Yes—I especially appreciate the lab (Bibliorama) printouts, new this year? I'll look forward to reviewing after I leave, too! 4: Very much so! I look forward to using them! 5: Yes. EB was very thoughtful to include handouts for "Bibliorama", the slide list also saved a lot of hurried note taking. 6: I now feel that I have a superb list of references for the history of illustration for future study. 7: Very appropriate. 8: Yes, EB went the extra mile to create lists of the RBS books we handled, as well as the Special Collection items and our slides in class. 9: Yes. I will definitely use the information materials to refresh my memory but also as a springboard for further study. I thought the slide information for each day in handout form worked well. It allowed more time to look at the visual and make notes on EB's comments. Also liked the handouts for bibliorama. It allowed more time to look at the books and illustrations. 10: Yes, very useful and very well-organized into a chronological overview. I appreciate the exit reading list!


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: The intellectual level was most satisfactory, in fact, the highpoints of the course were the discussions of iconographs, which I would have liked to see more of—this is not a criticism, it's just the part of the course I enjoyed the most. 2: As a survey, I think the level of emphasis for each century/period was appropriate. EB was able to address most questions and very open to special interests and following through with new information. 3: Level totally appropriate—and a good balance given class members' different backgrounds. Processes, and how to identify them, were of particular interest to me—and most relevant to my 'day job'. 4: Because of my responsibilities in my current job, the c15-early c19 books were most relevant, but I enjoyed learning about the c20-c21 as well. Based on my background and those of the others in the class, I think the intellectual level of the class was just right. 5: Yes. Although a bit more art history framework might have been helpful for some (like me). Great to learn how to make at least basic evaluation of print methods used. 6: Discussing the techniques and differences between illustration styles of artists and time periods—I now feel more comfortable in dating images because I have a more comprehensive understanding of their contexts. 7: It was nice to view a lot of materials first hand. Unfortunately, due to the survey nature of the class, we were forced to move at a rapid pace, not leaving much room for discussion. However, EB invited classroom discussion and answered questions. 8: When we left the book history parts (only natural in the early history) and moved into specific illustrators and processes, I was especially interested. Due to the varying levels of background knowledge, sometimes I felt the intellectual level ebbed and flowed. 9: Intellectual level was appropriate for this course. I particularly liked the chronological approach...century after century. I needed a good structure in which to place my new information. 10: Intellectual level was appropriate; the c16 and c17 materials were especially interesting to me because of the map/atlas materials. All aspects of the course were of great interest.


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: Absolutely. The high points of book illustration complemented the "theory" and slides and/or facsimiles (in many cases) that we saw in class. 2: Yes. The trips to SC were excellent. It is so nice to see actual examples of what has been discussed in slide lectures. 3: Yes—seeing materials in SC was great—nothing like real thing! I was glad we didn't take a field trip out of town—while useful, these always seem to involve more travel than pay-off—long days. 4: Yes! Daily sessions in the UVA's SC, followed by further sessions with RBS collections, were especially useful, especially in a class such as this. Too often, we learn about "illustrations" and art through photos in textbooks and lectures and lose sight of the contexts of these lovely works of art. Through these sessions, EB made sure we truly appreciated the illustrations and the artists within the context of the books and publishing world. 5: Yes. 6: Yes, very. Nothing beats seeing original materials up close. 7: Yes, more than adequate. 8: Yes, the material from the SC was amazing and fit our course perfectly. 9: Yes. SC helped to reinforce the slide information by seeing the actual book... absolutely well spent. 10: Yes, absolutely. Wonderful to handle materials discussed each day.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: Overall, I most enjoyed the intellectual and personal demeanor of the instructor. While this was a survey course, EB injected it with many details—cultural, historic or artistic—of the period at hand. What's more, she was incredibly generous—in spirit and in knowledge. EB not only fielded many questions (some relevant, some pedantic) with great aplomb (or just plain patience) and was more than resourceful in specific lines of examination. For example, I inquired in one session about scholarly studies on the iconography in a certain book. The next morning, EB distributed a two-page bibliography on such, which was not only a tidy bit of scholarship in itself but also above and beyond professional duty. 2: The ability to take the lecture/slide knowledge and then view or work with actual examples. 3: EB's expertise and total mastery of material, her willingness to answer any and all questions from the peanut gallery, and her generally welcoming and encouraging personality. Another terrific RBS teacher!!! It's terrific when "world experts" are so approachable! A great mixture of lecture/discussion and labs (Bibliorama) and SC "show-and-tells"! 4: Hard to say: the content? The time devoted to examining examples? The instructor? EB is not only an intelligent, knowledgeable teacher but a very approachable, personable individual who clearly has strong intellectual curiosity and great enthusiasm for her subject. She welcomed, even encouraged, the same in the students which allowed all of us to contribute our own expertise to the class. Great discussions! 5: Bibliorama and handling things passed around in class. Also, EB has a great personality, which really made the lectures interesting. 6: EB presented the material in memorable ways during lecture, hinting at the examples we'd be looking at in SC and bibliorama so by the time we got to the originals we knew the significance of what we were looking at. I mostly enjoyed flipping through bibliorama books with the new, fresh, and cheerful knowledge bestowed upon me by EB. 7: Physically seeing the materials. Establishing a mental framework from which to more effectively understand and appreciate illustrations. 8: Being able to see or handle books we had just learned about in lecture was great. Also seeing 'famous' books was amazing. 9: I enjoyed the pace. 90 minute classes were just perfect. Half-hour breaks were sane. Bibliorama was an excellent way to get up close and personal with books I only admired from afar. EB was great. No question was left unanswered. Often she would work furiously behind the scenes to provide us with additional material the next day. Good job EB! 10: The instructor and her knowledge of the subject matter; she was a great teacher and presenter. I liked the slides, followed by the bibliorama hands-on, and the SC visits. I loved the experience and the information added by classmates was valuable to it all.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: More detailed iconography discussion (but I already mentioned that). 3: Perhaps more on processes and how to identify them? (I know that's the subject of another class, but it would help "anchor" the general history—also of particular interest to me.) 4: More time? 5: Seeing slides and real examples was great, but sometimes a bit repetitive. Also, a bit more basic art history framework might be useful, although could bore the people in the class with art backgrounds. 6: My only suggestion—images with the PowerPoint list? 7: I personally would have liked a greater discussion of the context or significance of the materials. I'm not sure how one could incorporate this into a survey course, however. 8: The first day and a half felt like review of a history of the book course, but I realize it's important to lay a printing/book foundation. The day was nicely broken up, and handling the RBS collection at the end of the day was perfect. The lecture was interesting and easy to follow. 9: No improvements. This course will just get the small refinements a course naturally picks up as it ages. 10: N/A.


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: None. 3: None—SC materials handled only by staff— and we got good instruction in handling RBS items in labs. 4: Seemed fine. 5: Was mylar on sale? But seriously, the handling procedures were great. 6: The chairs in the Byrd room are awkward and hard to move, but that's it. 8: We were all aware of careful handling procedures, so I think the RBS teaching collection was viewed with care and respect. In terms of the selection of materials, EB made excellent choices and impressed us all with items from the SC and teaching collection. Integration into the course was quite natural. 9: In SC it would be nice to design a huge half-circle table for viewing. Students would sit on the outer edge of the table. Near the inside would be a track. The book would rest open on its short supports upon a piece of wood. The bottom of the wood would lock into the track. The book would move smoothly from one end to the other. Everyone could get a clear look. The book would not need to be physically lifted from one table to the next. Just a thought as they say. 10: Classroom handling of materials was good; all were instructed in safe handling and practiced it daily.


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


1: Yes, particularly Terry Belanger's famous Audubon lecture. 2: Yes. These events tied in nicely. The only drawback was the timing of some events immediately after the day's classes were over. It was a bit tough to concentrate when you're ready for dinner. 3: Yes, absolutely. The paper night session was especially valuable to me—really helped clarify things for me. I'd "require" it for people in this class—it's that valuable. (Don't miss it if you take this class.) 4: Yes, I enjoyed the video night in particular because they fit so well with the class's focuses. 5: Yes, although attending made eating dinner more than a bit rushed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. 6: Video night was interesting, made even more so by TB's bird demonstration. 7: Overall, yes. 8: I attended most of the optional events and they were interesting to varying degrees. The Paper and Printing museums were fantastic and educational. It can get a little tiring or overwhelming to attend all the events in the evening, so just catching a few worked out perfectly. Some of the events that overlapped with dinner times were slightly harder to enjoy because of hunger pains. 9: Yes, the museum nights on "paper" and "printing" were so informative—wish they could have been more than two hours long. 10: Yes. The Sunday night lecture by TB was very inspiring and the Monday night lecture about digital editions of books was very thoughtful. The videos were interesting and 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: Yes, and then some! It was wonderful to have an instructor who is committed to the sharing of knowledge. Kudos to EB. 2: Yes, yes, yes. 3: Yes, absolutely! This is the fourth (fifth?) class I've taken at RBS, and each one has been an absolute pleasure and intellectual treat—invaluable for my learning and also highly valuable for my career. A tiring (and full) week—but I couldn't be happier I could come. Thanks, Terry (!!! 4: My advice for future/prospective RBS students is to TAKE THIS CLASS, even if you think book illustrations are not of much interest to you. You will learn a great deal through a well-designed survey and leave with a greater appreciation of books throughout the centuries. 5: Yes. I would advise people to stay off campus if they are seeking a comfortable night's sleep, and non-scary bathroom (sharing aside). A hotel would have been worth it. Also, an RBS "shuttle" (UVA van) from CHO would have been much appreciated—even if there was a wait or a cost. Several others were on my flight in—could have saved $ and anxiety. Same for departure. 6: Yes—a broad overview that leaves you wanting more! The course covers so much in just a week, but definitely could be longer and still keep interest. 7: Outstanding value. Where else could you see so many rare materials so quickly? 8: I definitely enjoyed my time at RBS. Not only was the class excellent, but meeting other like-minded people also really adds to the experience. 9: I was on a scholarship. However, even the travel and housing costs and the time spent was worth it. It's an incredible experience. Take a course here and you will need to join RBS Anonymous—it's addictive. 10: Yes!


Number of respondents: 10




Institution gave me leave: 60%

I took vacation time: 20%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 20%



Institution paid tuition: 60%

I paid tuition myself: 0%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 40%



Instution paid housing: 50%

I paid for my own housing: 40%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 10%



Institution paid travel: 40%

I paid my own travel: 50%

N/A: lived nearby: 10%


There were 3 rare book librarians (30%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (10%), 2 conservator/binder/preservation librarians (20%), 1 antiquarian bookseller (10%), 1 full-time student (10%), 1 individual in-between careers (10%), and one digital conversion specialist (10%).