RBS Invites You to Apply to Its Fall 2023 Online Courses

Rare Book School is thrilled to share the details about its fall 2023 virtual courses. By offering online-only courses such as these, RBS hopes that students can together learn what bibliographical materials reveal about human history and human nature, how to care for these remarkable objects, and how to share what we know with the wider world.

Applications are now being accepted for the following courses:

Introduction to Bibliographical Research Methods for the Hand-Press Period
Taught by Sarah Werner (22 hours)
21 September through 16 November (7:00–9:00 p.m. ET on Tuesdays & 7:00–8:00 p.m. ET on Thursdays)

This course takes as its starting point the premise that bibliographical research methods are broadly useful for studying any texts of the Western hand-press period. We will consider how the material aspects of printed texts help us ask questions about the circumstances of their creation, their potential uses and meanings, and their passage through time to us today. The course will be organized around specific materialities—including paper, ink, type, format, and bindings—in order to learn skills to identify key characteristics as well as situations in which such knowledge is useful. Because this is an online course, we will also pay special attention to digital facsimiles and other digital tools that can help us explore (or sometimes hinder our study of) bibliographical features.

From Poggio to Mabillon: The Study of Latin Manuscripts in the First Age of Print
Taught by Anthony Grafton (6 hours)

26 September, 28 September, 3 October & 5 October (7:00–8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesdays & Thursdays)

This course will examine the study of Latin manuscripts from early Italian humanism to the creation of Latin paleography by Jean Mabillon. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century philologists have often claimed that early scholars could only generalize about the manuscripts they used, since they did not know the history of scripts and had no secure basis for describing or dating them. Jean Mabillon, whose De re diplomatica of 1681 put Latin manuscript studies on a new foundation, has often been portrayed as a heroic innovator who owed few debts to his predecessors. From World War II onwards, however, students of humanism in Italy and elsewhere have cultivated every corner of this vast field. Landmark books—especially Silvia Rizzo’s Il lessico filologico degli umanisti (1973)—and brilliant monographs and articles have filled in and nuanced our understanding of the ways in which fifteenth- and sixteenth-century scholars worked with manuscripts. We will retrace the history of manuscript studies in four steps, each based on a series of case studies.

Building a BookLab
Taught by Kari Kraus & Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (6 hours)

16 October, 23 October, & 30 October (7:00–9:00 p.m. ET on Mondays)

This short course will explore practical approaches and strategies for building a student-centered book arts makerspace—a “booklab”—with an emphasis on those institutions with modest and even scant resources. It will be based upon the instructors’ success in jointly conceiving, developing, and directing BookLab at the University of Maryland since 2018. We will explore start-up considerations, such as physical space and budget, as well as essential purchasing. We will cover a range of tabletop letterpress options in some detail, and also discuss how to source type and other printing necessities. The audience for the course is those persons either thinking about developing such a space at their own institution, or who are currently running one seeking insight into what others are doing. While the focus will be on college and university settings, the course will also be appropriate for those working at the K-12 level or in community-based public arts.


Please click on a course title above for more information, including how to apply.

For the best chance of being admitted, please submit your application(s) by Monday, 28 August 2023. Applications received after that date will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all available seats have filled, but many of the classes will fill in the first round of admissions decisions.

Applications will be accepted through the myRBS system; instructions for using the site can be found on the landing page once you’ve created an account. For information about the application process, visit rarebookschool.org/admissions-awards/application/. If you have any questions, please contact rbsprograms@virginia.edu.