Mark Dimunation & John Buchtel

H-10: History of the Book, 200-2000

6-10 June 2011



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: Extremely useful and very accurate and appropriate for the course. 2: Very useful readings and well worth the time. 3: Very helpful in creating a layer of information to draw upon as the course proceeded. 4: Very. Not just for the class, but for my work as well. 5: Very useful. Easy to find own areas of interest within the reading. Include The Printer and the Pardoner by Paul Needham next time! Especially if you plan to show the indulgences! 6: The readings were useful in terms of providing an overview and becoming familiar with the vocabulary. 7: Very helpful in keeping track of all the information given in this course and useful in providing context. 8: Very useful. 9: Quite useful. Although the Eisenstein book covered an interesting and relevant subject, her prose was clunky and difficult to read. 10: Required readings were excellent for novices in the area and yet were sufficiently detailed and complex to hold my interest. The heavily illustrated books were especially helpful. The recommended browsing assignments were a good introduction to several specialized areas. 11: The readings were very helpful and well chosen. They gave a concise overview of the material that was to be covered. 12: The readings were right on point and relevant 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: Yes, I believe that I have begun a new life-long love and the further readings will begin when I get home. 2: The notebook was well organized and allowed you to get a sense of what was to come. Would have liked a blank page at the end of each day for notes. 3: Absolutely, they were excellent tools and will be frequently used for reference. 4: Not exactly—all the material was already familiar to me from the readings, although I did appreciate the bibliographic references, so we could go back and re-check what exactly we had looked at. 5: I was very excited about the further reading, which is a great guide for newbies. Diagrams helpful. Very glad lists of books we saw were included so we can remember them and do further research. 6: Yes. 7: I will keep my notebook and RBS materials forever! 8: Yes/yes. 9: Yes, I plan to read other books on the recommended bibliographies. I will refer to the handouts and also to the notes I took in class. 10: The workbook was well organized, and the supplemental materials were easy overviews of some technical information. Mostly they will serve as reminders. Of most use long term will be the intro to basic reference guides and especially the lists of special collections materials we were shown (all those glorious books!). 11: All materials were relevant and helpful. 12: Yes. All the materials given to us were useful. I wish we were provided with more detailed notes for the 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: I am truly humbled by my experience—MD and JB brought their knowledge, expertise, and professionalism to the forefront! 2: This course gave a great broad view of the history of the book from 200-2000. The course material was intellectually interesting, challenging, but not overwhelming. The instructors are experts in the delivery of information. This is a must course to take! 3: Learning about the development of printing and how the printed work interacted and affected history. Comfortable intellectual level. 4: Honestly, it was all great, although I am partial to the manuscript monastic and theological texts, as well as those from Early Modernism. I felt that the instructors were very capable of speaking to our knowledge levels. 5: Yes. I appreciated that the class was taught to look at the book as an object, and what it shows us about the makers, readers. 6: Of greatest interest to me was the general overview of the history of the book and the various printing techniques. 7: The breadth of information the course covered was extremely helpful. The intellectual level of the course was perfect: easy enough to understand if you had no previous knowledge of the subject, but presented in a way that was interesting even if you did have experience in the subject. 8: It was—I found the structure to be very useful and the instructors' interaction made it very enjoyable. 9: We covered a huge amount of information in a short time. The class was challenging, but manageable, and I feel like I have a basic general understanding of the history of the book to build on. 10: My primary interest is book structures, and the course had appropriate content. I took the course to gain a solid, broad overview—and the course really delivered. 11: The intellectual level was on target—most students came from varied backgrounds of professional development. The greatest relevance was the impact of the book on social, cultural, and intellectual movements. 12: The ability to create an intellectual framework through which to understand the artifacts and to present them to others. To focus on the specific characteristics of the book, while not fetishizing it.


4)    What did you like best about the course?


1: For a survey course, I was concerned that there would not be hands-on learning or that the lecture format would be overwhelming. The ability to connect with the material object. 2: There truly are so many wonderful aspects to this course, but most memorable were the instructors, MD and JB and our trip to the Library of Congress. This trip was AWESOME!! 3: I like that the course was a broad survey over time that dips into depth for significant historical events and authors. 4: Library of Congress! It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 5: Trip to the Library of Congress was truly once in a lifetime. The instructors were great together, and it was a good class size. 6: Trip to LC and the way the course was taught. 7: The LC trip! And the instructors! And everything! 8: The variety of material covered and the expert knowledge of the instructors. 9: The enthusiasm and knowledge of the teachers. Being able to see and handle books from the collections. The instructors were also very entertaining and funny. 10: The intellectual depth of the instructors, worn lightly with humor and playfulness. 11: The fun bantering between the instructors, the relaxed atmosphere of the class and the respect the instructors showed toward their students. 12: To have JB and MD conduct the course together. They feed off each other's energy, which prevents the course from being too overwhelming or monotonous.


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

1: Prior to MD & JB's course, I was intimidated by the rare books collections. Now, I would like to think that I have a vocabulary and strong foundation that makes sense and more importantly that I can build upon. I have new eyes to look at books and a new opportunity for the written few. 2: Yes, and they were very open to questions, well organized, and on time! :) 3: Yes. JB and MD are not only experts in their field, they keep the learning fun with variety and great senses of humor. I cannot believe all that I have learned in five days. 4: Yes, I wish the course was a tiny bit more advanced on every subject, but I realize that the course is meant to be introductory and there's only so much time! 5: Yes. Good approach to a broad overview, which is what I needed. 6: Yes. 7: Yes, they were wonderful. 8: Yes. 9: Yes. The use of the vocabulary lists on the board was an especially helpful technique. 10: Yes. 11: Absolutely. 12: Yes, absolutely. I have never seen any instructor succeed, like MD and JB did, to bridge the gap between text, context, and the importance of materiality of the book.


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


1-11: Yes. 12: Yes. Just like a good book, it's not only about the information covered, but how the information is conveyed that makes this course fantastic.


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


1: Yes, more than I even expected. 2: Yes, absolutely, and even more than I expected! 3: Yes, and beyond. 4: Yes. 5: Yes, this class solidified what I had learned in a previous course and provided a foundation for future learning. 6- 9: Yes. 10: Yes. I would have loved more examples of Coptic and other early binding structures—but, then, that's one of my special interests. 11: Yes. And even more. 12: Yes. MD and JB provided me an exciting and thought provoking narrative through which to explain the significance of book history to others.


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


1: I will need to make sure that all the suggested reference materials are in [my] Special Collections. All the required readings will be included in staff settings. Looks like this will be a great case of transmission of knowledge. 2: I will use this knowledge as I catalog some of our older materials. 3: As a librarian, I will use the skills and knowledge I have learned for collection assessment, development, and teaching. 4: Because it's a general history review, I think the most important skill we learned was to look critically at the "container" and ask ourselves why an item is formatted the way it is, and how that format affects the content. 5: I hope to pursue a career as a rare books librarian in the future, and apply the skills/knowledge from this course to my current B.A. work. 6: My goal was to gain a better understanding of the physical printed material and the cultural and sociological aspects related to the materials and methods in order to better assist patrons. 7: Since I hope to work with rare books in future jobs, I imagine I will use what I learned here in the day to day duties I find myself tasked with. 8: As a foundation for continued study and in my teaching. 9: As a bookseller, I am more prepared to identify and describe all books and now have a better understanding of rare books. 10: Teaching bookbinding at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center. Private reading and research. Personal bookbinding. 11: As a history professor, I will use this information in my classroom. It has greatly improved my understanding of the book and the printed word's place in history. 12: To more effectively give short presentations on the history of the book to students. To better contextualize the works while focusing on the specific attributes of the books.


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: Oh gosh. Two weeks instead of one? :) 2: I have no suggestions! This was the best academic course I have taken! 3: The course is perfect—don't change a thing! 4: The reading list is somewhat overwhelming, especially for someone as neurotic as me who feels as through he/she has failed if he/she doesn't complete all the non-required reading—maybe a reading list of "continued readings" could be saved for the end of the course. 6: The course was fantastic. The only minor improvement I might suggest would be to follow chronology. Sometimes flipping back and forth makes it slightly difficult to follow, though I understand why it is done. 7: The only thing that was hard on me was standing up in Special Collections for so long, but even then it was a small discomfort compared to the items we were seeing. 8: I can't think of any way the course could be improved. 11: I cannot think of any way in which the course can be improved, it was excellent. 12: Bullet point class notes.


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: Oh god yes :). Special Collections at UVA should be a model for every other Special Collections in the US. George Riser is wonderful. The LC trip was truly a once in a lifetime event—trust me I've met the Dalai Lama twice and this I'll remember for a lifetime. 2: Yes, very worthwhile to see the materials in Special Collections and the Library of Congress in understanding the history. 3: Absolutely, the trip to the Library of Congress and regular visits to Special Collections were invaluable. 4: RBS has a great teaching collection, and ABSOLUTELY George was very gracious in assisting us. 5: Yes, Library of Congress trip incredible. SC trips and experiencing the objects firsthand makes all the difference. 6: Yes. 7: Perfectly planned and well-executed. 8: Yes, our trip to the Library of Congress was extremely beneficial. 9: We visited the Library of Congress and saw amazing examples of what we were learning about in class. 10: ABSOLUTELY. 11: The trip to the Library of Congress was an experience of a lifetime. To have the Director of Rare Books take you through himself was great—I felt sorry for the rest of the tourists! 12: The trip to the Library of Congress with MD is a once in a lifetime trip and not to be missed.


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: Everything was very professional, no need for change! 2: None. 3: N/A. 5: They know what they're doing. 6: None. 7: I can't think of any way to improve this, it was well done and our class seemed very respectful of the items. 8: None. 11: The materials were handled expertly and with great care. 12: Nothing.


12)    If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?


1: I would have preferred a lecture from one of the staff members and a project they are working on. 2: RBS Lecture was excellent. Ann Blair was a wonderful speaker and her research was fascinating. The Video Night was great and built on information we learned in class. The Booksellers' Night was a treat and Franklin Gilliam had vino and cheese for us which was very nice. 3: While they were informative, it would be nice to have one night of "down time," even if just to explore the library and University resources on our own. 4: The lecture Monday was great, although after a hard day of working, one's attention tends to lapse. 5: The lecture was very interesting, Ann Blair is such an intelligent woman. 7-8: Yes. 9: Yes. The videos were useful for a visual presentation of rare book production. 10: I attended the Monday lecture; excellent; high level of knowledge, gifted speaker. Did not attend others because (1) had already seen the videos or others like them, (2) Wednesday we were on the bus, and (3) I can go to the bookstores any time because I live here. 11: Attended Ann Blair's lecture and thoroughly enjoyed it. 12: The Monday lecture was appropriate and fascinating.


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


1: Yes! Truly an amazing experience! I only hope that I can continue learning from such remarkable people. 2: This course was well worth the money. I wish there was History of the Book 200-2000 Part II! My advice to prospective students is "Don't miss this course"! 3: I feel that the course was well worth the investment if you love books and literature. 4: I think so! 5: Yes. 6: Yes! I thoroughly enjoyed this class. MD and JB work well together and do an excellent job teaching the course. 7: Definitely. I wish I could take RBS courses all summer. I will be applying for more RBS courses in the future. Thanks for the wonderful week! 8: Yes. 9: Yes. 10: Absolutely. 11: Well spent money! Anyone who decides to take this course with MD and JB is in for a rare treat. 12: I recommend that any professional in the field dealing with the public should take this course. It provides you with ideas on how to engage others in talking about rare books.


14)    Would you recommend this course to others?


1: YES!!! 2: Absolutely 100% 3: Without question. 4: I plan to recommend RBS, and this course specifically, to anyone who will listen! 5: Absolutely. 6: Take it. 7: Best course ever! 8: Yes. 9-10: Yes. 11: Without hesitation. 12: Without question a must for any professional in rare books who deals directly with the public, despite prior level of understanding and experience.


Number of respondents: 12






Institution gave me leave




I took vacation time




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




I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition




Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship




Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing




N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home








Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby






There were 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (8%), 1 copy cataloger (8%), 3 MLIS students (25%), 1 BA student (8%), 1 professor of English (8%), 1 general used bookseller (8%), 1 professor of general sciences (8%), 1 professor of History (8%), and 2 rare book librarians (16%).


Where did you stay?


Brown College: 3 (25%)

Cavalier Inn: 2 (16%)

Econolodge: 1 (9%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 2 (16%)

Red Roof Inn: 1 (9%)

Other: 3 (25%)