Stephen Tabor

G-45: Analytical Bibliography

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: Pre-course readings were well chosen and were a perfect way to prepare for the class. The Tanselle bibliography was frequently referenced in class by ST, making it even more useful as a tool for study post-RBS. As ST mentioned to some of us who struggle with organizing our data, one of Tufte's books may make a useful addition. 2: Well-chosen and useful. I only regret not having made more time to read in preparation for the course itself. 3: Very useful—they were enough in depth to prepare but not intimidating as so much bibliographical literature can be—very well chosen, not too much, and not too expensive! 4: The readings were useful but difficult for a beginner. They made sense as we learned more about presswork through actually doing it. 5: EXTREMELY! We made constant reference to them in class, and they were a solid foundation for our work. 6: I found the pre-course readings very helpful, and had already encountered most of them before. We didn't cover everything in them, but it was good to have that grounding before the course. 7: Very.(Tanselle's Introduction to Bibliographical Analysis should be required reading for Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography and other courses.) 8: Very useful. I'd read Blayney's work before, but I found it especially helpful in setting up the expectations for the course. 9: Very useful for a general overview of the topics and tasks we would tackle during the week. More beneficial than narrowly-focused readings, I thought. 10: Good, Tanselle and Blayney in particular.


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 essential for this class, which relied on photocopied materials for a number of useful exercises. In the future I would encourage ST to include some of the diagrams from his PowerPoints. I also very much liked the innovative folder as a container. 2: Very helpful for in-class use as exercises, but now that the particular exercises have been completed, perhaps less useful long-term. 3: Yes to both, though many of them less so at home as they were designed to clarify and provide practice for points brought up in class. 4: Workbook was very instructive and we used it all in class. I will use it in the future. 5: The workbook was great, and I do think I will return to the exercises. It would have been great to receive copies of some of the slides used in class—especially the charts. Maybe could add in later years. 6: Workpacks were good with lots of various topics covered—some of the spreadsheets used by the course tutor would have worked better as handouts though so we could annotate copies rather than copy things out. 7: Yes. A very general outline of topics to be emphasized, by day, would have been helpful. Some detailed diagrams and charts would have been useful handouts (but should not be viewed until in-class exercises are completed). At all times, however, I was certain the instructor had an excellent grasp of best order for our explorations of particular topics. 8: Yes. Insofar as many of them were designed for us to work with in class, I don't think I'll use most of them again. One suggestion is to include samples of spreadsheets that scholars use in analytical bibliography. 9: Yes—very useful and will certainly be referred to again in future. 10: Yes.


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: Intellectual level of the course was spot on; challenging but never overwhelming, materially based without ignoring important theoretical issues. Actually seeing and analyzing materials in ways I have read about many times but was always unsure of executing well was my desired outcome in taking the course, and that is what I got. I will have lots to re-do when I get back home. 2: For me, deeper investigation of the bibliographical evidence available that can be subjected to analyses of various kinds and how those analyses can in turn inform one's understanding of the text, its distribution, reception, and other topics of interest to book historians and literary critics. Intellectual level of the course and fellow students was very high, which made for many stimulating discussions from which I learned a lot. 3: All of it was necessary and relevant. Though I've had experience in the "practical" aspect (printing) no extra experience is too much. Second part—yes. 4: Learning the physical aspects of printing is invaluable to understanding bibliography. I was also interested to learn some of the cataloging tools for printed books. 5: The greatest message of the class was that it's okay to just keep analyzing without knowing where you'll get—you'll get somewhere eventually! The intellectual level was very very high. Some of the smartest and most knowledgeable colleagues I've ever had the pleasure to meet. And ST kept us working hard! 6: The time period covered was very appropriate as it focused mostly on my era and occasionally strayed into eras before and after—although these sections weren't that relevant, they were really interesting. Because I have done some of these readings before, some of the course felt a little basic. 7: Everything covered is of use, either for my particular project or as useful, general background. Level seemed appropriate. 8: The course level seemed appropriate for everyone. Certainly you wouldn't want to take it without some background in descriptive bibliography. 9: What was conveyed very well was the greater applicability of bibliographer research in supplementing other types of research. Though this wasn't explicitly addressed in class very much, it was something which gradually dawned on me as the week progressed. 10: The printing practicum by ST, AN, and JD was eye-opening and set context for the rest of the week. A number of other hands-on exercises (running title analysis, first-forme impressions) were helpful. David Vander Meulen's presentation of his work on Pope was outstanding. Level was challenging, yet appropriate.


4)    What did you like best about the course?


1: It's hard to think of a thing I didn't like: a wonderfully engaged group; a personable, incredibly knowledgeable, and experienced instructor; challenging material; and wonderful exercises made the course, for me, the best I have taken at RBS so far. The composition and printing exercises, however, were a highlight, and more instructive than I would have imagined. 2: The fact that we managed to investigate a number of types of evidence with a good deal of depth in each case. 3: Instructor above all. This could be impossibly difficult for a week-long course. Instead I never felt (completely) lost. 4: The instructor—he presented the material in such a way as to develop our skills and build on them each day. He was supportive, organized, and expert in his field. 5: ST. Such a great person to have guiding you. Loved the eclectic approach and the relaxed atmosphere. Also, the press demo early in the week was so useful! 6: The variety of topics covered (although sometimes time was a bit too tight to cover things in as much detail as I would have liked). 7: Instructor's approach, lucid explanations, and variation between general discussion and detailed exploration. The practical work, such as in composing and printing procedures, was of great value. 8: The hands-on work: identifying early printers, collating the masque, &c. For me, the time spent with type was more fruitful than the time spent on paper. 9: As above—also the collegiality of the group and the way in which different perspectives came together to solve certain tasks and problems. 10: ST continually discussed data gathering, data organization, and data analysis with each technique we used. All three are necessary.


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


1: Yes. ST was clearly well prepared to teach this course. His PowerPoint presentations were lucid and cohesive, and his practical knowledge of the book and print shop practice helped keep students engaged and curious, making for instructive lessons and enlightening discussion. 2: Yes—very much so, especially considering that we had only a week. 3: Yes. The concepts and practices are a lot to cover in a week. Felt we received a solid foundation. 4: Yes. I was a complete beginner and from another field (manuscripts). By day three I felt I had caught up to the rest of the class. 5: Yes. Very much so. 6: I have definitely acquired more knowledge on certain aspects and will go away better able to record the data obtained in my own research work. I'm still not quite certain how to explain some of these findings, though.7: Yes. 8: Yes! ST did an excellent job balancing his presentation of new information and skills with hands-on work that let us test those skills. As a result, the class never lagged and was always informative. 9: Absolutely: though I think we all learned from one another as well. 10: Yes.


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


1-4: Yes. 5: Yes. I think the course description could be more vibrant—the course is such a pleasurable mix of bibliographic inputs. 6: Yes. To a certain degree. 7-8: Yes. 9: Yes—and without feeling overworked, or like huge amounts of info had to be digested. Acquisition of transferable skills and methods very important. 10: Yes. I would expand the description to make clear that the course covers bibliographical methods as well as analysis. For example, how to determine whether running titles match as well as analyzing recurrence.


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


1-2: Yes. 3: Yes. And more! Fellow students were a great mix and an important part of the experience. Instructor and venue were excellent. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. I learned so much I wanted to go back in time to re-do my old scholarship! What a fool I was then! 6: Yes. Again, to a certain degree. 7: Yes. This course for me was very useful to take after "Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography." 8-10: Yes.


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


1: I am currently working on two slightly overlapping bibliographical projects for which the skills I've gained are indispensable. I also help to better serve readers in the collection I work in by having better and more informed answers to their questions, or at least examples of references. 2: Not sure yet. My research into collecting history draws on different types of evidence, so I did not have any immediate need for this course. I took it mainly to enrich and broaden my overall knowledge of book history. 3: First and most important—in cataloging hand-press period books for the library. Second, in teaching on subjects related to hand-press printing, demonstrations of the press, &c. Third, should help in my own printing activities at the library. 4: I expect to use these skills in my research and publications. I may also use them in my work environment. 5: Definitely will help me analyze books and texts for my dissertation. Also, the course really did provide a good survey of the intellectual cruxes of the field, and I think that is invaluable. 6: I will return to my research with new ideas and have already been able to establish a few things that I will need to re-check or re-visit. 7: I can apply the principles and methods of analytical bibliography in my work in enumerative bibliography and in general to scholarship in literary history. 8: Long term, I'll be pursuing editorial projects that will require these skills. I'll also bring what I've learned into my classroom. 9: It will be useful in my current research, as well as in revisiting and revising bibliographical work I have done in the past. 10: I am doing individual bibliographical research and have additional methods and analytic skills that I expect to be able to use immediately.

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: Perhaps adding the Tufte to the readig list, the charts in our workbook. 2: The instructor clearly had a syllabus, which he shared with us orally in phases (we gradually knew what was coming next). I would have found it more helpful to have a printed syllabus given on the first day, or even better in advance. 3: For a first time presented course, I felt ST did a masterful job. Perhaps more use of original materials (though in most cases this would, sadly, probably be impossible). 4: I would like to know a little more about researching early printed books—how to use the catalogs and databases. 5: I think it would have been nice to have a few more examples of physical books to supplement the workbooks. For the exercises, photocopies worked better with a large group, but for things like type recurrence or damage, it might have been nice to see it on the original. Also, would have been great to have a 30x or 40x loupe in the room. 6: Because it was a new course it felt a little underprepared in places, but this was to be expected. Sometimes it felt like time was wasted because certain tasks or exercises did not result in the expected conclusions being drawn. Also the use of photocopies and facsimile reproductions detracted a little from the whole experience, making some analyses difficult, if not impossible. 7: I cannot suggest how the course could be improved. New course—history of bibliography? 8: I wish ST could teach this with his Huntington collection. As he obviously knows, working from photocopies and overheads is not ideal. 9: A minor point: a list/schedule of what topics would be discussed on what days would have been nice. Working with books rather than facsimiles would have been beneficial in the type recurrence section.

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. Presentation by David Vander Meulen (DVM) was extremely helpful and all students were delighted. 2: N/A. 3: Yes—one trip to Special Collections for a talk and demonstration. Both were very informative and fit perfectly with course content. 4: Yes—we saw the collators and learned about DVM's work. 5: The Special Collections visit was great! Thanks to the Harrison Small staff and DVM for their time and effort. 6: The time after class spent with DVM was invaluable. 8: Yes—thanks to DVM! 9: Yes: they were all very interesting and informative. 10: Without question.

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?

2: None—all handling I observed seemed appropriate. 3: Appropriate materials and all cautions were made in a firm but friendly manner. 4: No suggestions—materials all handled appropriately. 5: Everyone was very respectful. 6: We didn't tend to handle many books, but when we did, smaller book cradles for small books would have been helpful—plus snake weights. 7: None. 9: Due care and attention was emphasized at all times by instructor. 10: N/A.

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

1: ST requested we see the papermaking video and I would recommend it again. 2: Yes—only attended Monday evening lecture and Wednesday evening Forum, but enjoyed and benefited from both. 3: Yes. All (RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were very good and part of the experience. 4: Yes—go to everything—it's fun! 5: Lectures were great! Totally worth it. Video Night was also great—the videos are very informative, although the sound quality on those old VHS tapes is ...poor. 6: Yes—I attended everything and would do so again—plus it's great to spend more time with people taking other courses. 7: Yes. 8: The students in this class were terrific, and during the evening events we all got to know each other better. It looks like an excellent slate of lectures lined up. 9: Yes: all worth attending. Video Night was especially relevant to our course. 10: Yes.

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: Absolutely. 2: Yes, especially knowing that my tuition covers only a portion of the overall cost. 3: Yes! Absolutely. The week flew by. I learned more than I thought I would. The instructor was top-notch. 4: Yes—I will be back! 5: TAKE THIS COURSE!! Totally worth it. 6: I would say yes. It gives a great introduction to many different topics and lines of enquiry, but certain aspects were rushed and we didn't always go into great detail on how to assess exactly what our data might mean. 7: Yes. This class, as the instructor's general advice declares, should not be taken as a student's first exposure to bibliographical matters. It is, however, of tremendous use to many professional and scholarly concerns. 8-10: Yes.

14)    Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes, though it would be best for students to have taken this after "Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography." Having "Advanced Descriptive Bibliography" build off of skills acquired in this course would be valuable. 2: Definitely—and would encourage RBS to offer it again and to consider presenting it next time around in a way that even more clearly explains how it fits in with or alongside of "Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography," courses on binding history, provenance research, and paleography in terms of developing bibliographical skills and aiding bibliographical and book historical research. 3: Same as above (see question 13, #3). This course was an experience I won't forget. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. Give me a call if you still have doubts! 6: Yes; I think once the creases are ironed out it will be a very helpful and instructive course. 7: Yes, I would enthusiastically recommend both this course and this particular instructor. 8: Absolutely. Anyone working in early modern studies (including grad students!) needs a course like this. Take "Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography" first. ST has been excellent. 9: Without hesitation! And I will also be returning ... 10: Without hesitation.


Number of respondents: 10






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 rare book librarians (10%), 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (10%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (10%), 2 teacher/professors (literary/publication history, English) (20%), 2 Ph.D. students (20%), 1 postdoctoral fellow (10%), 1 IT service provider for libraries/archives (10%), 1 collector/independent researcher (10%).


Where did you stay?

Brown College — 2 (20%)

Cavalier Inn — 1 (10%)

Courtyard Marriott North (Rte 29) — 1 (10%)

Red Roof Inn — 1 (10%)

Dinsmore House — 1 (10%)

RBS staff housing — 1 (10%)

At home — 2 (20%)

Other — 1 (10%)