Paul Needham and William Noel

H-25 15th Century Books in Manuscript and Print

January 10-14, 2011 in Baltimore, MD



1)      How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)


1: I was accepted late for the course, so I read as much as I could during the course. 2: A few that were pointed out as necessary on ISTC cataloging were helpful—but probably not necessary—I wish I had concentrated on some of the other reading on creating MSS. 3: I was accepted late, but the readings I did manage to fit in were relevant. 4: Extremely useful—they provided a superb selection of introductory material that contextualized the course materials and the methodology of analyzing them superbly. Thanks to this, I learned even more this week thanks to my learning process beginning before this week did. 5: Very useful. The more of them you read, the more you're likely to understand—they provide essential context—and some are fun! 6: The readings were quite useful as background and provided a foundation the course built upon. They also were useful for directing my own self-study on the subject.7: I did not get a chance to read many of them. But I will still look at them now. 8: They were very useful. 9: Very useful but hard to obtain. 10: Useful, though extraordinarily difficult to obtain, even using ILL and Rare Books dealers. 11: I would like to have had some other additional Needham articles on the list.


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: Yes, very appropriate and useful, and they will be very helpful for myself and my students in the immediate future and further down the line. 2: I saw that the instructors were working from a printed syllabus. I wish we could have a copy of that. 3: I would have liked a syllabus—that said, the work-book was very useful, and I will continue to refer to it as a reference for courses. 4: Absolutely—as above. The materials and information I gained this week will inform my scholarship for years to come and will help immeasurably with my teaching. 5: The materials were useful. 6: Yes; the materials will be ideal for some dissertation work I'm going to be doing.7: Yes. Although I wish I had a synopsis of the course outline (I know it was fluid). 8: The handout manual was useful but there was not a syllabus per se, which would have been useful. This manual would be more useful if the quality of the reproductions were better. 9: Absolutely. 10: No—students should have a syllabus so that they can conceptualize the layout of the course and know when to ask the appropriate questions. 11: They will be extremely useful in the future and were excellent in class.


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 manuscripts we viewed were of greatest interest and relevance, as I learned so much about them. Placing them in a context of similarity to/difference from incunables gave a new perspective to them. 2: I think of this course as a "History of Medieval Book to 1500" that connected everything I have learned in other history of the book courses. 3: I took the course to relate it to art history, and I found it incredibly enlightening vis-á-vis the medieval-Renaissance mindset and how their world was moving forward like a freight train. When printing (Mainz c. 1451) is considered in light of the rediscovery of one print perspective further south in Florence (c. 1420), course discussion light on both these phenomena. 4: The course's intellectual level was demanding but suitably aimed to encourage a complex but accessible learning process. The interchangeability and overlap between the processes of composition, production, and circulation so visibly and effectively illustrated were most relevant for my studies. 5: I loved it all, frankly. Looking at watermarks was great. 6: Really, for my general purposes (teaching the history of the medieval book and thinking about it as a function of material culture) the entirety of the course was useful. That said, the philosophical concepts surrounding the material and access to the Walters Collection were great.7: All of it was interesting. Intellectual level was appropriate (high). 8: In general, all aspects were extremely useful, particularly the section about collation formulae in incunable catalogs. The intellectual level was appropriate. 9: Books of hours. Intellectual level was just right. 11: All aspects were interesting and relevant—they relate directly to my collections.


4)    What did you like best about the course?


1: The atmosphere was superb because it facilitated interaction by participants and instructors; and encouraged participants to dig deeper and ask questions. 2: I didn't know how "deeply" we were going to go into the subject; I was challenged often. I don't know if that was more a reflection of my preparation—though I did feel about in the middle of the class—the depth of analysis. 3: Will has a tremendous energy and enthusiasm that I appreciate, because I felt he gave me the benefit of the doubt when I tried to relate 15th century events to what was happening in Mainz and elsewhere. 4: The enthusiasm of the instructors, the quality of the WAM's collections and the passion of our discussion. 5: The professors' expertise, and the use of Walters collections, which are phenomenal!  6: The interplay between Will and Paul. It made the class that much more useful.7: Method of instruction. We were encouraged (required) to think for ourselves (not just listen and absorb).  8: The combination of erudition and a direct and friendly approach. 9: All of it! 10: The networking with people from diverse backgrounds, all very serious about their work. 11: New approaches to evaluating format, size, content &c.. to collating.


5)     Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: Yes. They were open and ready to share their skills, & conveyed them clearly, sometimes with humor. 2: I believe so. 3: Yes—I am not in the business of books per se, but I certainly came away with some light shed on c15 practices that I am looking forward to researching. I also look at manuscripts and printed books with completely new eyes, which I am eager to share with my students. 4: They most certainly did, both before the course began and during the week. 5: Yes! They work together incredibly well, clarifying and elaborating on difficult or very detailed subject material. They're fantastic. 6: Yes; I feel like my muddled thoughts on the subject have been given a structure to operate within. 7: I believe so—even if there still is a lot for me to learn. 8: YES. 9: Yes. 10: It was a bit disappointing that the books we examined were strictly high craftsmanship/art—could have been helpful to see more common use books and think about books not created as "art." Also, other than books of hours, all the MSS we examined were whole (complete) as opposed to made up of several texts. 11: Yes.


6)     Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would  

        learn?         Y  /  N


1: Yes 2: Yes. Exceeded expectation 3: Yes. The one to which I referred was on the web. 4-9: Yes. 10: There could have been more room to more concretely think about how readers would differently approach varieties of texts from MSS to print and all that lies between. 11: Yes.


7)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N                                                                                  


1: Yes. I would have liked more exposure to and emphasis on manuscripts. 2: Yes. exceeded expectation. 3: What I've said—to shed light on c15 practices and mindset and how it might have been that printing was "invented" in Mainz and yet 1-pt perspective discovered or rediscovered in Florence. 4-9: Yes. 11: Yes.


8)     How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?


1: I'm creating a new course on medieval manuscripts and manuscript cultures for my undergraduate students. I will use/apply everything I learned from this course. 2: This course created a great framework to fill in with reading and analysis. 3: I intend to share the knowledge with students and get them to make connections as I hope to continue to make. 4: In my own studies and to pass them on to my students and colleagues. 5: I'm working with medieval MSS now—this has helped me contextualize the c15 ones better. 6: Teaching history of the book and explaining the structure of manuscripts for my dissertation. 7: I will apply skills learned in my next project (preparing a bibliography of printed books). I have a new conceptual framework with which to look at printed books. But I also took this course for pure enjoyment—I learned about things I may never apply in work (who knows) but that is perfectly OK—in fact I think it's wonderful. 8: In improving the catalog records of our incunable collection. 9: It helps with my collecting and my volunteer work at the Morgan Library. 10: My new book project—took this course in order to better conceptualize how readership would see/handle/encounter certain printed editions and how that text changed over successive editions. 11: I plan to more thoroughly catalog the incunables in my collection and share the amazing things I learned with my colleagues and with visiting classes.


9)     How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important— a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.


1: I would have liked more time and discussion for medieval manuscript-books. 2: Not really a complaint—I found it had to get into sync with the instructors—and for days I couldn't figure it out—I think it was having two teachers at times conversing and at times working "off of" one another—something I wasn't used to. 3: Only improvement I can think of is a syllabus and ... would have like to have handled and looked at some of the psalters & books of hours! Like being in a candy store. 4: It was all great! 5: More days in the week? No suggestions—it was great. 6: I'm not sure it could be other than having it be a longer course. 8: By including a syllabus and bibliography relevant to particular topics covered during the course.  9: It would help teachers and students to limit class size to max 8. There is just not enough classroom space to permit uncluttered viewing of rare materials. 10: Circulate a syllabus.


10)    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: Yes. The trip to the scan-lab was especially exciting. I hope to bring my students to the Walters to see what I myself saw in the scan-lab. 3: Yes, yes. LOVE Peabody! 4: Certainly. 5: N/A 6: Yes; getting to see the Peabody was useful. 7: N/A 8: YES.


11)    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: All good. 4: None—all was excellent. 5: No concerns at all—all materials were treated carefully and with respect. 6: Stressing badge control might be useful when people are leaning over manuscripts. 7: Blank 8: N/A


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


1: Yes. The sessions were paced well, with some feedback to start the next session in the course. The two instructors were amenable and I loved the way they enriched the course by bouncing their ideas off one another, as well as us. 2: I had a great time. Well worth it! 3: Yes—though would have been nice if university had coughed up the big bucks. 4: Hell yes. 5: Loved it. Worth every $. 6: Yes. I intend, as I do every year, to talk up RBS at my institution. 7: Absolutely!!! I really did enjoy the class. As I mentioned, I especially liked the method of instruction. We were learning through discovery. But of course, the content of the course was extremely interesting. I did not think the c15 book would be so fascinating. I am inspired to learn more. 8: YES. It was my institution's money's worth. 9: Very much. Paul Needham and Will Noel work extremely well in tandem. Taking this course was a privilege and a real pleasure. 11: Needham and Noel are amazing! I think this is my favorite class so far. Take it! Also, please have Needham and Noel teach a course on descriptive cataloging. Also, please offer a course on non-Western MSS (Shreve Simpsen please!).



Number of respondents: 10





Institution gave me leave: 37%


I took vacation time: 18%


N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off: 45%




Institution paid tuition: 54%


I paid tuition myself: 46%



Institution paid housing: 37%


I paid for my own housing: 18%


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 45%





Institution paid travel: 37%


I paid my own travel: 45%


N/A: lived nearby: 18%


There were 3 professors (27%), 2 Ph.D. students (19%), 1 MLIS student (9%), 4 rare book librarians (36%), and 1 book collector (9%). asdfasdfasdf