|COURSE NUMBER:||ENGL 448|
|COURSE TITLE:||The History of Books: Literacy, Technology and Passionate Readers|
|NAME OF INSTRUCTOR:||Elizabeth Willson-Gordon|
|CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION:||credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)|
|COURSE DESCRIPTION:||From monks in monasteries writing manuscripts to
digital books and online discussions, this course will explore the
changing technologies of communication and the impact these
technologies have on social interaction, cultural products, and human
thought. Courses on Book History are offered in history departments, in
digital humanities programs, in graduate library programs, and in
English departments. This course offers an in-depth study of a number
of literary texts (both fiction and non-fiction) coupled with the
historical study of books as objects. The analysis of the content of
these texts will be enhanced by the study of their form and the larger
economic, historical, and cultural context for the texts. We will
therefore also pay attention to ink, paper, book covers, and typography.
Prerequisites: ENGL 215 and at least three credits of English at the 300-level.
|MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:||
|COURSE OBJECTIVES:||This course will help students to understand and appreciate books
as physical objects as well as cultural constructions. We will examine
texts from a range of historical time periods and geographic locations.
The class is roughly organized around phases of development in book
technology. Each section is anchored by a literary text and
supplemented by other readings and activities. Each work, in addition
to illuminating a time period, has been chosen because of the treatment
of literacy within the book. In examining the profound shifts from
manuscript culture to print culture to digital culture we gain an
understanding of history that illuminates the present moment. We will
explore the ways in which eighteenth-century periodicals prefigure
Twitter, and how the release of the final volume of Charles Dickens’
Old Curiosity Shop had the cultural impact of the release of J. K.
Rowling’s final installment of the Harry Potter Series. The texts we
will read had, and have, passionate and engaged readers. We will chart
the readers’ reactions, read reviews, and look at letters written to
the authors and editors as well as examining and sharing our own
responses to them.
Book history studies has its roots in the study of scripture and many of the key moments in print history involved productions of the Bible and other religious texts. In addition to examining these roots, this course will explore the interpretive layers surrounding a text and provide students with specialized literacy skills. In so doing, this course will encourage students to read in new ways, skills that are broadly applicable, but are specially suited to reading as a faith enhancing practice.
As a 400-level course, the reading load for this class is substantial
Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions
from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult
the course instructor for up to date details.
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