I am currently teaching a History of the Book course, and I’m using Routledge’s The Book History Reader. The volume has a handful of seminal essays, but many of the articles are pitched above the undergraduate level. Fredson Bowers’s piece on bibliography, for instance, is beyond the reach of most college students, and the Eisenstein and Johns excerpts seem to me injudiciously chosen. Moreover, the selections on hypertext are both dense and dated. Can anyone recommend a book history anthology that is geared toward undergraduates and up-to-date? Alternatively, if you were to compile your own anthology, which essays would you include?
History of the Book Anthology
16 Responses to “History of the Book Anthology”
February 10, 2011 at 9:17 am |
I’ve had success with John Sutherland, ‘Publishing History: A Hole at the Centre of Literary Sociology’, /Critical Inquiry/, 14 (1988), 574-89. It focuses–with a sceptical eye–on three key individuals (Darnton, McKenzie and McGann): it thus provides a clear introduction to different approaches to the history of the book at the same time as offering arguments with which the students can directly engage. (And students DO love a grumpy article!)
February 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
I haven’t taught the history of the book myself, but I would think that introducing students to the major arguments surrounding the field would be extremely useful for their understanding the methodological issues: what kinds of evidence do or do not get used, what kinds of generalizations are possible, what kinds of claims can be advanced, etc. Seems like a wonderful opportunity to teach them how to think and read critically, so long as they can follow the arguments. I wouldn’t let Sutherland get the final word, but show how the field proceeded, either by assimilating or not these kinds of critiques.
February 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
Here’s a link to the syllabus for my history of the book course. I don’t assign much reading in the final month of the semester, 1) because students are generally exhausted by that point and 2) so that they can focus on their final projects–hypertext critical editions of works of their choice.
I hope that the syllabus proves useful to others, and I welcome questions and comments.
February 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
How interesting that you begin with Ehrman. I see the logic of that; it must add an interesting and needed dimension to your discussions. And the final section on hypertext must also raise interesting questions.
Does the temporal range present a challenge? (I’m interested in Eleanor’s claim above that students wanted greater geographical range.) It sounds like a fantastic course.