H-10. Histories of the Book, 200–2000

Michael Inman Charlotte Priddle

“An extraordinary learning experience in a special environment where you feel the love of the teachers for the books.” — 2017 student

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 14–19 July 2024
Format: in person, New York Public Library in New York City, NY
Fee: $1,395

“Histories of the Book” presents a broad survey of the development and diffusion of the book in the West (i.e., Western Europe, the British Isles, and the Americas) as viewed from multiple perspectives. It is organized around major format changes and technological transitions in book production, noting the cultural impacts of these advances. Throughout the week, students will have an opportunity to view and/or interact with original materials drawn from the collections of the New York Public Library and New York University’s Special Collections Center. Field trips to other noteworthy New York City libraries or collections, as well as presentations by guest speakers, may be arranged as deemed appropriate.

While students will be introduced to selected theoretical issues and scholarship related to the history of books, printing, authorship, and readership, this course will focus primarily on imparting an understanding of, and appreciation for, the book as a material and cultural object. Topics to be treated include: the introduction of the manuscript codex; the growth of literate culture; the invention of movable type and the impact of printing on scholarship, science, and religion; the distribution and marketing of books; the rise of reading publics, libraries, and the book trade; the shift from hand- to machine-powered printing; and the move from printed to electronic formats. Students will also be introduced to basic vocabulary utilized in the description of book history and production, the antiquarian book trade, and other relevant aspects of bibliography.

Although this course is aimed at those at the beginning of their formal study of the history of books and printing, applications from those who have already taken other RBS courses will be considered. In their personal statement, applicants should describe the nature of their personal and/or professional interest in the area of book history, as well as note any related education and experience.

Course History

Michael Inman and Charlotte Priddle co-teach this course as "Histories of the Book, 200–2000."
John Buchtel and Mark Dimunation co-teach this course, as "The History of the Book, 200–2000."
Daniel Traister teaches this course.
Eric Holzenberg and Suzy Taraba co-teach a precursor course, "The Codex Book in the West, 500–2000."
Alice Schreyer and Peter VanWingen teach a precursor course, "Introduction to the History of the Book" (1985); "The History of the Book" (1986–1988); "History of the Printed Book" (1989–1994).

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Related Courses


  • Michael Inman
  • Charlotte Priddle

Michael Inman

Michael Inman is Curator of Rare Books for the New York Public Library, a position he has held since 2008. Prior to this appointment, he worked for six years as Librarian-in-Charge of NYPL’s Rare Book Division. He also served as Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute from 2007 through 2012, where he taught courses on printing history, bibliography, and special collections librarianship. He is an active member of several bibliophilic and professional organizations, including the Grolier Club and the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. In 2009, he was a recipient of Pratt Institute’s Alumni Achievement Award.

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Charlotte Priddle

Charlotte Priddle is the Director of Special Collections at New York University, which incorporates the Fales Library & Special Collections, the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Archives, and the New York University Archives. Prior to this role, she was the Librarian for Printed Books in the Fales Library & Special Collections. She co-taught book history in the English Department at NYU from 2015 to 2019 and has published in a variety of journals, including C&RL; RBM: A Journal of Rare Books Manuscripts and Cultural Heritage; and Libraries: Culture, History and Society. 

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