H-50: American Book in the Industrial Era
18-22 July 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: Very useful. Not addressed directly much during course, but provided very helpful background. 2: Quite useful. 3: I was only able to read Lehman-Haupt, which was very helpful and I will keep for future reference. 4: Lehman-Haupt was useful. I did not get to the History of the Book in America, and I don't feel that had a negative impact on my experience in the class—but it will be first on my exit reading list. 5: Very useful. They provided a comprehensive overview of the subject. 6: The pre-course materials were very interesting and relevant, though perhaps too fact-heavy. Actual class time was what really solidified the content of the readings and made it feel applicable to the real world. 7: The pre-course readings were very helpful, especially The Book in America and volume three of A History of the Book in America. Also, for the reference of future students, the books are not required in class. 8: On a scale of one to five with five most useful, four. There is a bit of a litany of fact without interpretation element at play. I would have liked to have seen more scholarly journal articles. In spite of these comments, the readings were an excellent underpinning. 9: I enjoyed them and was extremely glad I did them in advance as they made possible to deal with the amount of information we covered in five days. The Gaskell, however, was more technical than my personal experience could support, so I skimmed sections.
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. 2: Good bibliography. 3: Bibliography should be quite helpful in future. 4: Yes, although I think the bibliography could use an update. 5: Only material was a bibliography and relevant literature and I will definitely use this in the future. 6: Yes, the bibliography of the course has provided me with an extensive reading list which I will use to inform my future studies. 7: Yes, especially the reading list—I'm certain I will be referencing that often in the future. 8: Minimal distributions, but an excellent short bibliography. 9: The bibliography, arranged by course subtopic, was and will continue to be wonderful. I added annotations when MW pointed them out in context. I also added other titles mentioned by MW and by classmates.
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: It was all very useful and well organized. 2: The business aspects of publishing and bookselling were more interesting to me than technical aspects but all good to know. 3: Both discussions of physical book manufacture and the trade were very helpful. 4: MW is the only RBS instructor I've ever heard explain Foucault in a class (Foucault for dummies, to be sure!). It was a great thrill. The intellectual level was perfect, although technical aspects would be a review for students who have taken certain other RBS courses. However, MW gives everything a new exciting context. 5: The study of book production was of greatest interest. Intellectual level was spot on. 6: I was most interested by the later time period covered, the post-1900 period of production. I also thought that the brief foray into bibliographical description and collation, as well as the afternoon lab sessions, really helped me to better understand the books we were working with. The intellectual level was perfect for me in that it was introductory and did not assume knowledge. I think anyone could take the course and understand it. 7: The discussion of copyright and international copyright were most useful for me, personally. Overall I felt the course was pitched at the perfect level: challenging, yet accessible. 8: Honestly, all of it was useful, as it provided basic grounding in many aspects of the history of the book. 9: The changes in technology over time, whether paper, presses, type, &c.
4) What did you like best about the course?
1: The instructor's deep knowledge coupled with a sense of humor—it was very informative and a lot of fun. 2: The ability to look at and touch so many books and objects. 3: MW's extensive knowledge of the field was very enjoyable, though he occasionally went a little too far afield. 4: Talking about copyright laws and courtesy of the trade, seeing MW's expertise, and hearing his unique take on things that are taken for granted. 5: I found that the instructor was able to convey large amounts of complicated information in a digestible way. A huge amount of information is conveyed in five days, but its not overwhelming. 6: The instructor's teaching style and multiple examples we physically looked at. I also enjoyed the supplementary films, particularly Etaoin Shrdlu, as well as seeing the Linotype machine and presses. 7: My favorite lesson was the visit to SC to view Leaves of Grass, but I also enjoyed the activity we did with Meredith's Lucile 8: Viewing and handling material objects that were part of the production of books. Quasi-case-study like examples of technology, processes and activities presented. MW's ability to answer questions and his deep knowledge. 9: Basic descriptive bibliography, identifying structures and gatherings. Visits to SC. Reading material. Images of old bookstores.
5) Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?
1: Yes. 2: MW has incredible breadth and depth of knowledge he wants to share and he checks in with the students to make sure he is covering matters of interest. He is a master storyteller. 3: Yes. 4: Definitely. The session on bibliographical description could have been better organized—I think it was a little confusing for people who'd never been exposed to that sort of thing before. A handout may be helpful in future. 5: Absolutely. MW was an entertaining and engaging instructor with a remarkable knowledge of the subject. He clearly cares a great deal about both his subject and teaching. 6: Yes, fantastic teacher. Very real and accessible. Clearly brilliant and has a good sense of humor. 7: Yes, definitely. 8: Yes. MW was really superb and it was a pleasure to be in his class. He managed to teach in a way that made the material accessible to all levels of the class. 9: Yes, very much so, I particularly liked the model of tracing the publishing history of a particular title; analyzing a book by its physical changes over time and what it tells us about the process.
6) Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?
1: Yes. 2: Yes. I will never look at a book (especially a C19 one) the same way again. 3- 8: Yes. 9: Yes, but I did not know exactly what to expect. I was very open-minded.
7) Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N
1: Yes. I learned more than I hoped to—it will be very useful to my work and instruction. 2- 4: Yes. 5: Yes. I learned a lot more than I thought I would. Even in areas I thought I knew about I made new discoveries. 6: Undecided. I'm grateful for all I learned. I had hoped to focus slightly more on the modern book production industry, but I knew going into the course that it might not do that. 7-8: Yes. 9: I had hoped for more simple physical analysis of the books. I might take Introduction to Bibliographical Description now that I recognize this interest I have!
8) How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?
1: Applicable to both teaching and reference work. 2: No direct use to my position but knowledge for its own sake is a treat. 3: I am selecting Americana for digitization now, and will have a greater understanding of the books. 4: I will be applying this context to my research and my cataloging. The course gives me a base of knowledge, which is helping me figure out what questions I want to ask. 5: It will be useful in classroom settings with students as well as cataloging for more accurate descriptions of books of the period. 6: It was a great starting point for research I will be conducting. I feel more able to discern what it is I am viewing. I will be reading the mentioned material. 7: Most immediately, I plan to use this knowledge while working on my Master's report. 8: In examining books for purchase. In teaching research sessions and history seminars. 9: I have a few titles in my research I would like to approach using the model MW used showing the change over time.
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: N/A 2: The projected images were terrible. Some digital upgrading and/or enlarging would help. Especially for business records. Poor quality images. 4: MW could have shown a few more objects. The number was nearly perfect, but the binding session and the illustration session suffered from a slight dearth of examples. (However, I am comparing MW to TB and SA here, which is a bit unfair). 5: The only way to improve it would be to make it longer! It was a lot of information for five days. 6: Perhaps more equal distribution of weight spent on each period, though I suppose that the 1800s were really crucial for setting up the rest of the period and were a time of immense change. 7: I would have pictures of the various presses and machines (Linotype, Monotype, &c.) up on the projector to accompany the lecture. Overall, more images will speed up our comprehension of the technology. 8: Minor suggestions—provide some specific scholarly articles as part of required or suggested readings. While the digressions in response to questions were good, a few could have been a bit shorter. 9: An opportunity to print.
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 case studies of specific authors allowed for focus and a lot of physical material. 2: Excellent. 3: Yes, amazing how many things one can learn about the many printings of a single title. Great collection. 4: The sessions in SC were all right, but I didn't find them quite as intriguing as some other parts of the course. 5: Yes, it was useful spending the time working on two titles and their production history. 6: Yes, good use of time. Very fascinating material was shown that I felt greatened my understanding of curriculum. 7: Yes, the Linotype movie was great, as was the visit to SC to look at Whitman and Cather. 8: Yes, very well spent, although Whitman trip better than Cather one, but both excellent. 9: Yes, examining a wide selection of a few titles could only be done this way.
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: N/A 2: All handled carefully. 4: Just pass out supports during Tent on the Beach exercise. MW is very gentle. 6: None. 7: None, the Allen baskets are great. It was helpful to have them to pass the books around. 8: None, it was well done. 9: Reminders about washing hands for everyone
12) If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?
1: N/A 2: Very much so. 3: Yes. Enjoyed Siva a bit more than Andrea, whose topic was very narrow. 4: The lectures were alright; they certainly provided discussion! Booksellers' Night is always a treat. 5: Both lectures were completely different and very interesting. 6: Yes. The lecture on Google was intensely informative, all social events were fun. 7: Yes. 8: Google lecture excellent. Krupp lecture, alas, not so good, although it is clear she has a wealth of knowledge. She needs to work on the organization of the talk, and to practice it. And to revise and practice delivery (pardon my frankness). 9: Yes. Two lectures: excellent. Video night: relaxing. Booksellers': I found something!
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- 2: Yes. 3: Yes! 4: Yes! It's great! 5: Yes, a very useful class for anyone dealing with C19 American literature. 6: I went to class for free, but I would do it again and pay my own tuition if I could ever afford to in the future. Well worth it. And there is a lot of free food! 7: This was an excellent course which I found both inspiring and immediately applicable to my research. 8: Yes!! 9: Yes, even though I paid my own way, my professional development is extremely important for me—always has been.
14) Would you recommend this course to others?
1: Absolutely. 2: Yes. 3: Absolutely. 4: Yes, definitely—although it isn't worth taking if you have no interest in American books, of course. But if you have even a slight interest, the course will magnify that. MW is a wonderful expert. 5-7: Yes. 8: Yes. Thanks so much for having me. 9: Yes.
Number of respondents: 9
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 ___% of my travel
I paid my own travel
N/A: lived nearby
There were 3 rare book librarians (33%), 1 administrator (11%), 2 BA students (22%), 1 MA student (11%), 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (11%), 1 general librarian with no rare books duties (11%).
Where did you stay?
Brown College: 2 (22%)
The Lawn: 3 (33%)
Other: 4 (45%)