Stephen Tabor

G-45: Analytical Bibliography

11-15 June

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—pretty intense and complex stuff (as it should be, given the subject), but important to establish a common foundation for the course. 2: Pre-course reading was fine. Need to practice thinking in inner and outer formes. 3: The readings were very helpful. I had read many in the course of DesBib and Advanced DesBib. But especially with Tanselle, I did not get them until this reading. 4: Very useful; I think they were important to establish a baseline from which class discussions could proceed. 5: Very useful. Did not do additional reading. 6: The pre-course readings were judiciously chosen and very helpful in preparing me for the week. Key concepts, &c. discussed in class were related to readings. Very reasonable amount of preparation. 7: Exceedingly. Additionally, I had taken Introduction to DesBib and Advanced DesBib, and spent some time struggling with format et al., at my job, and that experience proved really valuable. 8: They were essential to being able to participate in class. 9: The pre-course readings were without a doubt helpful. I read them twice, a month before the course and then again the week before. Gaskell was a useful companion in the classroom; I would suggest some familiarity with Moxon as well. Blayney and Tanselle served for periodic quick reviews of certain topics, and McKenzie was mentioned in class several times. 10: Just the right amount. I had read Gaskell/Blayney/McKenzie before and Tanselle was an engaging read. 11: ST chose a small select group of readings that were of considerable use to us. Perfect.

2)    Were the course workbook and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)? 

1: Yes, very useful for demonstrating various aspects of the subject. 2: Useful. Will use the information and will continue to investigate the topics learned. 3: They were an essential element in what we did in class every day. A table of contents/guide to the packet would help, as would writing "TP," "TX," &c. on dividers. 4: I will continue to use the materials as I examine my institution for similar cases and incorporate some of these principles in my teaching. 5: I will use many in my own classes. Excellent examples and exercises throughout. 6: Yes. A challenge, as well, given the shortcomings of reproductions. It was clear a great deal of care went into preparing the materials. 7: Yes, very useful. It might have been even better if we had a bit more time to discuss the meaning of our findings, I'm thinking especially of woodcut dating. 8: They were essential to in-class exercises and discussions. 9: The workbook was excellent and included a number of specific exercises geared toward each lesson. Materials were clearly marked and we wasted no time finding the right document. The quality of certain photocopied reproductions wasn't free of problems, but supplemented by the artifacts and actual practices (typesetting, &c.) the workbook was successful. 10: 1) Yes, useful for class—I only hope I remember what my crazed scribblings mean when I refer to these again! Great to have printed answer sheets handed out for exercises—and love the folder format. 2) Can we have double-sided photocopying where useful/possible? e.g., when showing recto/verso or two formes of the same sheet. 3) Any chance Stephen Tabor (ST) would consider supplementing the exercise handouts which comprise the majority of his folder with some of his amazing slides? It would help immensely to have those on hand. 11: Generally—yes. However, duplication of materials for detailed and minute examination was a problem—scaling, microfilm copies, odd artifacts in photo/digital surrogates was distracting. Maybe high-resolution, photo-shopped surrogates would work?

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1: Have taken several—this one took bibliographical studies to a deeper level than the others. 2: This one was as rigorous and demanding as the other classes I've taken. 3: This course shows its (young) age. Still not as polished as long-running courses like DesBib or Book Illustration, which are astonishingly well put together. Nonetheless very enjoyable. 4: Yes. It was as informative and enjoyable as the best RBS classes I've attended. 5: Yes. Compared to DesBib this was less structured, more conversational, and more collaborative. Quite useful and appropriate to an intermediate-type class. 6: N/A. 7: Yes, three others. This was maybe slightly less organized but that is to be expected for a new course. Also, this course was the most challenging in terms of independent thought and analysis required, which is excellent. 8: This was my first course. 9: N/A. 10: We did a lot of challenging problem-solving Wednesday through Friday—awesome! But I was certainly hoping for more actual examples from the RBS collection. I see what purpose the photocopies served, and recognize that we don't have twelve copies of everything—but as an analytical bibliography course I felt we didn't get enough exposure to books (a la Desbib). 11: I took The Printed Book in the West since 1800 last summer. ST's class is so different. Analytical Bibliography is not a survey—it's designed to show several ways to conduct analysis on early printed materials.

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: The content of the last two days—imposition, type recurrence, woodcut wear—will have the most relevance to my research project, I believe. 2: Learning the techniques of looking at text and thinking about the minutiae. 3: The practical considerations of compositing variations, running head analysis, textual variants and how they can/cannot be related to printing house practice. 4: Being instructed by ST's great expertise in the wild thickets of bibliography. 5: Really all of it. 6: Practice/training in paying very close attention to these elements valuable for bibliographical analysis. Good historical and theoretical overview that will help me access, make use of, and use the relevant literature. 7: All of it, though more American references would have made it more relevant. 8: Comparison of different states of printing of a single text, theorizing about what caused the differences. The exercises involving identifying type by printer were quite instructive. 9: I think I gained most from the typesetting and presswork exercises since they added a physical dimension to my thoughts about Gaskell, &c. The recognition of type damage was a challenge but as a skill I think it will help my future work. The same goes for watermark identification. 10: I was generally interested in learning how to do the kind of meticulous detective work that leads analytical bibliographers to draw well-reasoned conclusions about the stuff of the past. I work on c15-17 print and knew the course would focus intensively on books from that period, which was great for my purposes. 11: Current research in methods for analytical bibliography is very helpful—learning how to "deconstruct" a book and record detailed information about its printing process—and then use that information to place the book in its most probably historic context.

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

1: Yes, in both cases. Things started off pretty basic, but ST's expertise emerged as the week went on, and he was very informative. 2: Yes. Yes. 3: Yes. Much of this stuff is not written down, so you have to experience it. 4: Absolutely. I learned a great deal from this challenging and stimulating experience. 5: Yes. The flow of lecture, exercises, and discussion was organic but also well conceived in advance. 6: Absolutely. The subject is a challenging one. Both the "bigger picture" and more detailed exercises were helpful. It was paced well, also. The structure was logical and obviously well thought out. ST is very knowledgeable and a thoughtful and sharp teacher. 7: Yes, certainly helped me acquire, &c. Very high intellectual level in that there was a lot to cover so we really had to keep up. I think this was appropriate. 8: Intellectual level appropriate. 9: The intellectual level was certainly appropriate. There could easily have been a course on only one of the topics (standing type, watermarks, &c.), but ST introduced the methods and had us working toward the correct form in an efficient manner. 10: 1) Overall, yes. Monday and Tuesday felt like a lot of recap. But I felt increasingly intellectually challenged as the week went by and we tackled increasingly detailed/gnarly questions—from vertical type alignment to figuring out the order of imposition/printing/correction in variant states of the "same" early modern masque playtext. 3) Thanks are due to ST for lassoing us all in and flexibly adapting his teaching to cater to our interests and expertise without it getting boring or topics dropping out. Some of the material was so dense/complex that ST had to consult his notes repeatedly—but his explanations were always clean, cogent, and considered, and he invited and welcomed contributions from the students, which made for a stimulating class environment while keeping us from falling into traps of logic or assumption. This is tough stuff, but he came out trumps. 11: ST was a patient, well-organized instructor who obviously is thoughtful about the topic. Both ST and the students freely shared their expertise, opinions/observations, so that we all could build on our own relevant body of information.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: The hands-on work (the press; type-setting and correcting) at the beginning of the week, and then learning about things (see above) that are relevant to my work in the second half of the week. 2: Using different equipment to see paper surfaces (raking light, for example). Thinking about printing possibilities in historical context. Setting type and printing get thumbs up, too! 3: Setting type and then walking into the class and looking at type set centuries ago was very instructive. Also setting and proofing type at the beginning of the week was very effective. 4: ST's lectures and projects about specific issues in analytical bibliography. Getting the benefit of his experience and erudition. 5: ST and his incredible experience. 6: Hands-on work. Opportunity to learn by practice. 7: Composing! The hands-on experience was invaluable. 8: Textual comparisons. 9: The best part was simply to learn first-hand from ST, as well as from my classmates from all corners of the bibliographic world. The multiplicity of examples and intellectual teamwork was the best part for me, in short. 10: Working on exercises with real material, whether in photocopy or in real books; it is one thing to see examples on a PowerPoint slideshow and be told what's going on—and quite another to go spelunking on your own or with the help of classmates. Wish there had been more of this! 11: ST. He is a very organized instructor, willing to consider new ideas, respond carefully to questions, and keep the class on schedule. His examples were spot-on. His experience with materials is vast and he brought his reading and research to the discussion with ease and grace—not pompous or overbearing. I looked forward to each class and was surprised at how fast the time went.

7) How could the course have been improved?

2: Hand out paper so that we could fold folio, quarto, octavo as necessary. 3: The topics addressed and the time allocated to them needs fine-tuning. 4: Full and unfouled cases? I loved the grounding of the class in the print shop, but it posed logistical problems. Using an 18th century text and printing what we set on the handpress would be in keeping with the period. Also, perhaps one visit to Special Collections (SC) to experience a brief session of analytical bibliography without surrogates? 5: Don't worry so much about getting books/surrogates into our hands in every case. Many times the Elmo was more convenient. Would there be any way to leave with a digital workbook of images discussed in class on the Elmo? Getting to typeset the very first morning of the class may have been repeat for some, but for me it was absolutely fundamental for the rest of the week. 7: Perhaps slightly less time spent on finding differences and more on understanding why those differences happened, but then we would all have become Printers of the Mind. 8: The typesetting and printing sessions at the beginning of the week need much improvement. Preparation for these sessions seemed low (the typecases were fouled and printing formes were not locked up correctly, leading to much delay). Also, printing on the Vandercook has its merits, but printing on the common press replica (which we did only briefly) would have been much more appropriate and instructive). 9: While the photocopies occasionally limited what we could do in our exercises, I'm confident that this course will continue to improve over time as ST chances over more examples for lessons in his work. There could also have been more space at our tables, where we didn't have much elbow room to spread out multiple reproduced copies of books. 10: See above; more exploratory "figure-it-out-yourself" exercises on one's own/in pairs before class-wide discussion; give downtime for close observation (a la Desbib, even if this means evening homework time). 11: 1) I think a quick (one hour) book-making project would have given everyone the same vocabulary. We could have divided into groups and made three of four standard books (folio, quarto, octavo). This would have solidified the physical structure. 2) We could have had a much more efficient Press Room experience if we had had a real printer lead this part—with some preparation the print shop could have mimicked a sixteenth century shop much better. I think it would have been easier/better/more efficient if we had a real printer do this part–I don't mean to suggest that ST, BEH, or EO were not adequate—it's just that if we're going to do detailed analysis on something produced 300-plus years ago, we shouldn't be viewing the process through modern/amateur eyes. Additionally, those parts of the printing process that are most relevant to analytical bibliography could be emphasized—like running titles, spacing, damaged type, ornaments, &c. That said, nothing beats hands-on experience, so I most certainly would not eliminate this part—just think about how to make it better.

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

1–3: Yes. 4: Yes. I found it immensely valuable. 5: Yes and more, actually. 6–11: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?

1: Yes, mostly; some things I'll have to practice further. 2–11: Yes.

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

1: To carry forward several aspects of a research project, and of course to investigate questions or problems about other books in our collections as they arise. 2: I work with special collections every day; I'll start to notice printing and the discrepancies while working on a book. My appreciation for the object will increase. 3: I do original research as a rare book curator. These skills will be a valuable addition to my research capability and outlook. 4: It will inform my scholarship and my teaching. I'm starting to develop plans, though everything depends on what I find in my own institution. 5: In research and teaching. 6: In curating special collections in a more sensitive, reflective, and (I hope!) enlightening way. Also, to better facilitate the research of scholars using the collection. 7: I will look at the materials in my library with entirely new eyes. I feel like I have a much better grasp on the inner workings of a press-room. 8: In preparing a revised edition of the poems of a 17th-century British author for a commercial press, and for designing a course I would like to teach on Scholarly Editing. 9: I'll most likely use some of the typographical observation skills in my studies of foreign-language typesetting in early modern London printshops. 10: I am not currently engaged in any bibliographical scholarship—and am well aware that some of the data collection involved in such projects is so tedious and taxing as to be terrifying! But I know that I will in the future need to use everything we did: type identification, watermarks, woodcut wear, skeleton formes, &c. in the course of working as a rare book curator. I am grateful for this strong foundational training. 11: 1) I'll begin to do some analysis on items in our collections. 2) I'll introduce this topic to my staff. 3) I'll incorporate this into my lectures for the general public.

11)  If your made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1­–11: 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: Lectures were very interesting. Sorry, had to miss the videos. 2: I don't think you know how bad a video is until you invest 70-90 minutes of your time. I might've stayed in to catch up on my reading had I known how mediocre the videos were. Lecture was fine, but I couldn't understand [the speaker] because of her soft voice. 3: Lectures were both interesting and entertaining. Booksellers' Night (which should also be called "go out to dinner with your classmates evening" was most enjoyable as always). 4: I enjoyed the Wednesday lecture. 5: Did not attend. 7: Yes! Though I did skip Video Night. 8: I attended only the Wednesday lecture by the Gardner fellow. I thought it was poor, mostly anecdotes and an advertisement for the museum. 9: They were all worth attending! The lectures were by far the most compelling. Booksellers' Night is held on Thursday appropriately, since it is a good group/friends outing. The Video Night did not draw as many people as the other events, but I enjoyed it all the same.10: The Wednesday lecture was a feast for the eyes just as promised, but not the most meaty: pre-packaged show-and-tell for the most part. Booksellers' Night is always a pleasure! Video Night was fun! 11: Yes. Both lectures were interesting. I'm less interested in Video Night.

13)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching  collections and of materials owned by the 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?

1­–2: None. 3: No recommended improvements. 4: N/A. 5: Fine. 6: N/A. 7: Though we used few rare materials, for all of our work, more space would have helped (I guess that doesn't really answer the question, sorry!) 8: Freer space is needed for a group's examination of a single rare book. This room was a bit cramped for those purposes. 9: We only handled a few RBS rare materials, but I only hope that the basement will be a safe/mold-free environment. I did hear RBS staff talking about this issue already, so I am glad to know it is under discussion. 11: In general both staff and students were very sensitive to these collections. One improvement perhaps would be more room for each student to use materials. And I'd love to have some access to the reference collections so we could follow-up on things covered in class.

14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes! Yes! 2: Yes, and Yes. 3: Yes. I would recommend this course. 4: Absolutely. 5: Yes, and yes. 6: Yes, and yes. 7: Yes! Absolutely! 8: Yes, and yes. 9: I definitely did. I will make the best effort to return soon and I will recommend RBS to friends and colleagues. 10: I picked up a lot of skills, had a lot of "aha!" moments, and was pleased to meet and work with smart colleagues and an expert instructor. So, although I felt that some of the exercises and some of the flow of the week may be tweaked for efficiency and better learning—especially given the range of experience/expertise of the students in the room—I would say this course is a vital addition to the rare book professional's arsenal of skills. 11: Yes, and yes.

15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [] or Michael Suarez [].)

2: Get anti-fatigue mats for the Pressroom. Setting type for long periods of time takes its toll on your feet and back. Sell mugs and book bags up front (Sunday night): book bags for class handouts later in the week. Use mugs to cut down on garbage. 3: I took this course as a capstone for DesBib and Advanced DesBib, and I came in thinking these (or one of these) were necessary prerequisites. I see now that there is an equally valuable track involving Analytical Bibliography with Scholarly Editing. But either way, I understand the course as a complement and not an end unto itself. 4: Many thanks to ST for his generosity, intellectual availability, and expertise. It was a great experience. 7: Just that having solid experience at least at the level of Introduction to DesBib is really essential. I loved this course. 9: I'm extremely grateful for the Director's Scholarship, since I could not have attended RBS this year otherwise. As a younger scholar, I benefited to a very large degree from the advice from and conversation with more senior professors and librarians (by that, I simply mean anyone older/more experienced than I am). I've added a lot to my reading list and I've simply learned about fields that have been of peripheral interest. I really look forward to continuing my conversations with these new friends, and I look forward to staying in touch with the RBS community as well. Last but not least, my hat is off to MFS, BEH, AN, EO, and everyone on the staff—as well as ST and all the faculty—for such excellent conversation, encouragement, and company. This has been (and may well be) the highlight of my summer. I will make my best efforts to return in the hopes of adding to my bibliographic toolbox and to continue my relationship with this fine community.

Number of respondents: 11





Institution gave me leave


8 (73%)


I took vacation time


0 (0%)


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


3 (27%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course


0 (0%)




Institution paid tuition


8 (73%)


Institution paid tuition ___%


1 (9%)


I paid tuition myself


0 (0%)


Exchange or barter


1 (9%)


N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship

1 (9%)




Institution paid housing


7 (64%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing


1 (9%)


I paid for my own housing


2 (18%)

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


1 (9%)





Institution paid travel


7 (64%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel


2 (18%)


I paid my own travel


2 (18%)


N/A: lived nearby


0 (0%)





There were four rare book librarians (37%), two Ph.D. students (humanities) (18%), two librarians with rare book duties (18%), one full or associate university professor (9%), one conservator (9%), one library/university administrator (9%)


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

3 (27%)

RBS Printed Schedule

2 (18%)

Work Colleague

1 (9%)


1 (9%)



Word of mouth

2 (18%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

2 (18%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College 8 (73%)

Cavalier Inn 1 (9%)

Red Roof Inn 1 (9%)

Other 1 (9%)