About History of the Book

EN248: The History of the Book
Spring 2018
MW 1:00-2:15
Miller 205

Instructor: Megan Cook
E-mail: mlcook at colby dot edu
Office: Miller Library 219
Office Hours: Monday, 2:30-4:00; Wednesday, 9:00-10:30; Thursday, 10:00-12:00

Textual scholar DF McKenzie famously asserted that “forms effect meaning.” What does this mean? That the physical form that a text takes— whether a manuscript, a printed book, a newspaper, an advertising flyer, a webpage, an inscription in stone—contributes to and is in fact an integral part of what that text means. The discipline or subdiscipline of book history is predicated on the idea that, to understand what a text means, we also need to consider what it is at a material level.

In this class, we’ll explore what this relationship looks like in practice through an overview of book production in the European West, focusing on the medieval and hand press (early print) eras. Through a mixture of scholarly perspectives, primary sources (both those in Miller Library’s Special Collections and digitally in other archives), and hands-on lab work, we’ll explore the connection between the form and content of books in a variety of historical and media contexts.