NOTE: this syllabus draft is presented for informational purposes only.  For official syllabi for Art 382, please contact Professor Oettinger.

**Art 382: The Art and History of the Book**

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-2:45

Peirce Center Special Collections Classroom

Dr. April Oettinger                                        Office: Van Meter 227 (slide room)

e-mail:                      Tel. #: 337-6496

                                                                        Office hours: Tuesdays, 3:00-4:00, or by appointment

 This course surveys the history of the book and book illustration in the West, with emphasis on the art and poetics of word and image from ancient scrolls and the medieval codex to the printed and hypertext page. We will meet at Goucher’s Special Collections and Archives, which will provide a unique, hands-on opportunity to explore the art and history of the book through our “home” collection.   As we travel through a wide range of books from a variety of genres, we will consider the many ways that books make meaning,  physical aspects of books and their production, the evolution of writing (and type), illustration processes and styles, page design, and the artful ways that word and image embellish one another to communicate meaning.  We will also touch on broader questions including the place of books in history, the role of the book in society, the history of reading, manuscript and print culture, and the transformation of illustrated books in the digital age.

 At the end of the semester, students will be able to:

 v  Identify and describe the processes involved in the production of manuscripts and mechanically produced books, using correct terminology.

 v  Analyze and compare how different approaches to book design–including its format, mise-en-page, illustrations, and type—communicate the content and function of the book

 v  Compare and contrast critical concepts in the expanding field of the history of the book through a close reading of recent scholarship in the field

 v  Relate the study of the art and history of books to the broader study of the humanities and sciences

 Required Reading:

-Both the text and the course pack are available in the campus bookstore.  You are expected to have completed all assigned readings in time for the corresponding class meeting.

 1) Frederick G. Kilgour. The Evolution of the Book. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

2) Course Pack


 There will be a mid-term exam on October 21

 Writing Assignments:

 1) 3-5 page review of Great Illustrations: Drawings and Books from the Walters Collection at the Walters Art Museum.  Exhibition closes on October 10, Reviews due October 12.

 For this assignment, you will need to find transportation to the Walters Art Museum, where I would like you to consider and respond to the following questions:

 Which principles (or combination of principles) guide the arrangement of the exhibition?  Theme or genre? Geographic location? Publisher? Author? Chronology? Aesthetics? Something else?

 What genres (or type/subject matter) of illustrations were displayed in the show?

 Does the show exhibit books that exemplify particular styles in illustration, typography, and/or layout?

 What were the functions of the various examples?  Try to deduce some of the possible audiences of at least three of the materials. 

 What story, if any, does the arrangement of the exhibition suggest? 

 What have you learned from this exhibition?

 Did you have a particular favorite?  What was it and why did it appeal to you?

 2) Four Field Trip Responses

Write a one to two page response, due the week following each of our field trips, which describes what you saw and what you learned from the books, the curator (or collector or conservator), and the collection that we visited as a class.  Which was your favorite book?

 3) Paper, Presentation, On-Line Exhibition

Toward the beginning of the semester, you will “adopt a book” in Goucher’s Special Collections, which you will keep on a book truck in the Peirce center and visit frequently throughout the semester.   Your book will be the subject of a series of worksheets that you will complete over the course of the semester (in and outside of class), a research paper and an “on-line exhibition” (based on a wiki page that you will create and update frequently as you develop content related to your book).   In most, if not all cases, your book will be an ‘unknown’ object, even if it was written by an author familiar to you.  Therefore, you will have to think creatively over the course of the semester—inspired, I hope, by our readings, class discussions, and field trips—about how the physical properties and embellishment of your book (word, image, and form) communicate meaning.  You are also responsible for learning about its author, its publisher, its publication history, and its illustrations. Lastly, how does your book relate to its historical, visual, economic, political, gastronomical, musical, &c. contexts? 

 This is original research.  It requires detective work and a creative, open mind.

 a) Research Paper:

You will produce a research paper at the end of the semester on your book; the paper will be 10-15 pages in length [DUE December 9]

 b) Virtual Exhibition:

You will complement your paper with a virtual exhibition, which you will build using “wikispaces”.  There is already a main page for your wiki; once you are a member (which I will do), you will create your own wiki page within the main page, which should be a shortened form of the TITLE of the book you selected. 


User Name: Goucher College

Password: HistoryofBooks

 More guidelines about the wiki page and expectations for this part of the paper will be covered in class.  We will also meet with a representative from CTLT, who will provide technical instructions for getting started.

 c) Presentations:

You will give a 10-15 minute class presentation, using visuals from your wiki site, in the final weeks of the semester.

 d) Group Exhibition:

Your individual projects will culminate in a real exhibition, where students will work together to decide the order in which they should display their book (or broadside/sheet music, &c.).  You will also write a paragraph, based on an aspect you think is most interesting or important to know about your book, and this text will be displayed alongside your book in Special Collections. [Exhibition Opening: TBA]


Exhibition Reviews, 4 Field Trip Reviews:                                                             20%

Class Participation                                                                                                    25%

Mid-Term Exam                                                                                                        15%

Final Paper/Wiki/Presentation                                                                               40%

 Class Meetings:


31        Introduction: What is a Book?

            Proper handling of special collections materials—looking exercise—syllabus


2          Critical Approaches to the Question….


            -Kilgour, pp. 3-10.

-Leslie Howsam, Old Books and New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in Book and Print Culture (Toronto: U. Toronto Press, 2006): 3-27

-D.F. McKenzie, “The Book as an Expressive Form,” in The Book History Reader, ed. D. Fincklestein and A. McCleery (NY: Routledge, 2006): 35-46.

-Robert Darnton, “What is the History of Books,” in The Kiss of Lamourette (NY: WW Norton & Co., 1990): 108-135.

 7          Organizing The Earliest Written (and Portable) Words and Images


            Kilgour pp. 11-47.

9          Adopt-a-Book Day

*As you take notes on your book, think about it especially in light of D.F. McKenzie’s observation: “The material forms of books, the non-verbal elements of the typographic notations within them, the very disposition of space itself, have an expressive function in conveying meaning”

 14        The Medieval Codex/Books in the Service of God


            -Kilgour, pp. 48-56.

-Christopher de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts (London: Phaidon, 1986): 9-13, 200-231.           

16        The Medieval Codex/Books in the Service of God – Books of Hours


            Kilgour, pp. 68-80.

 21        The Medieval Books for Diversion, Books of Knowledge, Books of History

23        Trip: Medieval Manuscripts, Walters Art Gallery


            Kilgour, pp. 57-67.

 28        15th Century: The Invention of Printing With Moveable Type


            -Kilgour, pp. 81-97.

-Elisabeth Eisenstein, “Defining the Initial Shift: Some Features of Print Culture,” in The Book History Reader, ed. D. Fincklestein and A. McCleery (NY: Routledge, 2006): 151-173.

-Andrew Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance  (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010): 3-42.

30        15th Century: The Spread of Printing: Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Flanders, New World; Illustration Processes (Relief, Intaglio)


5          16th Century: Masterpieces of Renaissance Printing and Illustration


            -Lisa Jardine, “The Triumph of the Book,” Worldly Goods (New York: Doubleday,

1996): 135-180.

7          16th Century: Reading and Writing: How Early Modern Books Made History/Genres

of the Book


            -Ann Blair, “Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload, ca. 1550-

1700”, Journal of the History of Ideas 64.1 (2003): 11-28.

-Adrian Johns, “The Book of Nature and the Nature of the Book, The Book History Reader, ed. D. Fincklestein and A. McCleery (NY: Routledge, 2006): 59-76.


12        Review and Catch-Up

            [Exhibition Review DUE]

14        Trip: 15th and 16th century Printed Books, Evergreen House

 19        Fall Break

21        Mid-Term Exam

26        Group Exhibition Meetings/Scanning

28        Group Exhibition Meetings/Scanning


2          17th-century and 18th Century: Compiling Information; Specialized Books


-“Of Common Places, or Memorial Books,” ed. Earle Havens (New Haven: The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2001).     

4          18th Century Books – Satire and Slander

            -Colin Jones, “Paris: Notes from Underground,” review of Robert Darnton, The Devil

in the Holy Water, or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to NapoleonNew York Review of Books LVII.8 (May 13, 2010): 41-44.

 9          19th Century Fine Arts Books in Victorian England and America

            -Kilgour, 98-132.

-Paul Goldman, Victorian Illustrated Books, 1850-1870 (London: British Museum Press, 1994): 21-44.

-Susan Otis Thompson, American Book Design and William Morris (New York and

London: RR Bowker Co., 1977): 1-27.

 11        19th Century Books – Magazines and Ephemera


-Richard Ohmann, “Diverging Paths: Books and Magazines in the Transition to Corporate Capitalism,” in Carl F. Kaestle and Janice A. Radway, A History of the Book in America, vol. IV, Print in Motion: The Expansion of Publishing and Reading in the United States, 1880-1940  (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2009): 103-115.

16        19th Century Books and Ephemera – Expanding Genres for the Leisure Class

-Richard Clement, The Book in America (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1996): 93-


18        Trip: Packaging Books (Binding, Embellishment; the Art and Science of Book

Conservation; Johns Hopkins University Rare Books Conservation Lab)

 23        20th Century Books and Ephemera

            -Kilgour, 133-150.

[Presentations x 3]

25        Thanksgiving Break

 30        19th and 20th century Children’s Illustration

[Presentations x 3]


2          20th Century Fine Arts Press Books

[Presentations x 3]


**Saturday, December 4: Field Trip to private Fine Arts Books Collection**

-Departure time and details TBA


7          What is the Future of Books?


            -Kilgour, 151-160.

            -Robert Darnton, “Google and the New Digital Future,” New York Review of Books

LVI.20 (December 17, 2010): 82-84.

[Presentations x 3]

9          Review and Conclusions

            [Presentations x 3]

            [Final Papers DUE]