The Archeology of Text

SYLLABUS VIEW, English 341.001 / BKS 341.001, Fall 2017, TuTh 1:30-3:20, Athenaeum  435

Weekly Schedule and Assignments  Last edited: 08/18/2017 16:08

This syllabus page contains reading and other assignments that should be completed before each class meeting for which they are scheduled.  If students are especially interested in a day's or week's topic, they usually will find links to additional resources beneath the basic assignments.  After the first few weeks, most Tuesdays will be spent discussing readings and many Thursdays will be structured like natural sciences labs, based on the writing assignments that are due for each of the three text-delivery systems we study (digital, print, and manuscript).  The labs at the end of the semester will support your independent research project, though you can begin working on it at any time before then.

Note: Assigned readings are in online full-text documents, public folder postings, photocopies, and printed texts.  Read the syllabus carefully, with an eye for typography and color, to know where assigned readings can be found.  Some reading assignments are indicated for students with particular interests (e.g., digital coding), but required readings are all indicated by

Boldface type warns you when the assignment comes from required printed textbooks, an actual DVD (vs. a web video), or in photocopied handouts you should get in the preceding class.  An underscored title in black indicates readings that are located on Canvas Hyperlinks to online readings are underscored in blue text.  Words in italics, unless they are book or periodical titles per MLA style, are general discussion topics, but don't let them keep you from bringing up other issues.

        Because all class meetings will take place in the Rare Book Seminar Room (Athenaeum 435), students whould wash their hands before each class so that we will be able to handle rare materials on any given day without special preparation.  If it becomes a habit to do so before entering any rare book collection, students will have developed one of the first essential traits of the rare book researcher.  Special Collections staff ask that students enter ATH435 through its "back" door, the one facing the current periodical shelves and the Library stacks.  (You can enter through the front door when working on your own in SC&A--just sign in.)  Please put backpacks against the wall and do not bring food or drink into the classroom.  Students can bring to the classroom paper notebooks, laptop or tablet computers, cellphones set to "buzz" or "Airplane Mode," and pencils--no pens, please.  Also, even if students arrive in haste or distracted from another course, they should please take a moment on the way into the collection to slow down.  Haste and inattention are the enemies of fragile old documents.  If students prepare to treat us all with care, they will be ready to treat the books with care.  As often as necessary during the semester, we should refresh our memory about good behavior with old books by reading this web page.

Week 1

Thursday, 8/24: Course introduction; syllabus and web-site review; reading assignments in various textual media (original print, photocopy, scanned PDF, digital versions of print on GoucherLearn, "born digital" on the Internet); graded work (writing on digital, print and MS texts, your "cadaver book" description, and the independent research project); sharing our interests as researchers.  What brings you to this course?  What do you hope to learn to do?  What textual media do you think you will want to research independently?  Review of "seeing vs. reading" skills. 


Week 2 Texts, Archives, and Research Today--The Nature of the Problem

Tuesday, 8/29:  Hard Choices Dead Ahead!:  Logistics, economics, cultural change and modern technology vs. the survival of print media.  What was "microfilm" and how did it affect pre-digital attempts to solve archival storage space problems?  What will happen to "news" when newspapers go out of business?  What can real newspapers tell the researcher that digital images cannot?   What will the flood of digital text mean for current and future writers, readers, and researchers?

(Manoff's article is hyperlinked above through JSTOR, which requires the Goucher firewall for permission to read it.  Consider firewall permission to be a general requirement for any scholarly articles hyperlinked to this syllabus.  If you are working from outside the firewall, go to the Information Technology page and download the Cisco Anyconnect Secure Mobility Client VPN [usually just called "the VPN" or Virtual Private Network].  If you are having trouble getting past the firewall, I have placed a PDF copy of Manoff in the "General Discussion" folder in Canvas.  If you cannot get into Canvas, ask another student or IT for help.  I'm afraid asking me might not solve your problem.)

        Before class, visit this web page describing a microfilming initiatives that has now gone digital:  Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, an ongoing attempt to rescue images of unique Christian manuscripts stored in libraries vulnerable to destruction by wars, initially those in European states bordering the former the Soviet Union and thought likely to be destroyed in the event of nuclear war.  They began by using microfilm in the 1960s, but discovered that their microfilm copies were being destroyed by heat and humidity and "inherent vice," the built-in tendency of '60s-era films to decompose over time.  

       To prepare for a lab experience comparing digital images with real newspaper pages, see these images of the London Gazette for January 24 and October 1, 1688.  What do the digital surrogates conceal from you that handling the actual broadsheets might reveal?  If you want to see more, visit the London Gazette online archive.  Then view out this "bad microfilm" picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson, of "Chicago Black Sox" fame.  Could you positively identify anyone in the picture?  Is GoogleBooks any better than the C20 microfilmers?  Try looking at The Art of Google Books for some examples of what digitization is doing to print.   Some Great Libraries: James Wilson Bright (JHU Professor of English); John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen; Thomas Jefferson's Library (recreated) at Library of Congress Jefferson Building.

Finally, to put Manoff's and Baker's now-ancient (16-year-old!) analysis into perspective regarding e-books as the successors to microfilm, read these two Web pages and watch the third, three-minute NASA video: Faculty Guide to the Library: Requesting Library Purchases.  The "Carrington Event": September 1-2, 1859.  NASA X-Class: A Guide to Solar Flares.  Keep in mind that every computer connected to the Internet, the 'Net, itself, and every cellphone and cellphone tower, contains a very precise clock that synchronizes all this communication and e-book availability.  Those clocks are connected to the US GPS satellite network that regulates time to 100 billionth of a second.  No clock.  No 'Net.  No Net.  No e-books.

If you are interested in researching library "collection management" issues, consult Manoff's bibliography, and click here for some possible paths for research.

Thursday 8/31:  How are digital documents made and read, from the "standalone word processor" era to the present day?  How do computers store and represent text to us?  What are the layers of digital code, file architecture, and other software and hardware that are required to operate digital media?  How do they compare with the apparatus needed to produce and read text in manuscript and print media? 

Before class, read these differing e-reader reviews,

Note that, because Carnoy's article is "born digital," you might, by now, read a later "edition" of the e-book reader comparison than the one I linked to originally.   You may not be able to read the original unless you know how to excavate if from the Internet's "archives" of past Web pages.  You may read Baker in the hyperlinked web version (blue underscore above) but that version has not been updated.  Why not?  How does The New Yorker treat Baker's writing differently from the way CNET treats Carnoy's writing?  

        What did you encounter while reading either article online that you did not intend to see, and how did that afferct your ability to follow what Carnoy and Baker were saying?  As always in this course, keep track of your reading experience as differing textual storage media affect it.


Week 3:  Research in Digital Texts: Digital Text Construction, History, and Future

Monday 9/4: LABOR DAY HOLIDAY  To prepare for this week's classes on digital texts and archives, spend some time thinking about where you get your "news" (i.e., recently researched facts and interpretation of facts), and where you go for authoritative "olds," the news about the past.  Do you use wild-caught Web sites that Google or some other search engine hands you, or have you developed a relationship with some persons or organizations whose reporting quality you trust?  What digital literacy technologies do you currently use to access new and old information and interpretation of the facts?  How do those sources and technologies affect your reading and writing?  Consider both academic and private uses of literacy in your memoir.  Because you will have a long holiday weekend to think about this, you will have time to ask your parents and others where they go for facts and wisdom, and what tools they use to acquire it.  Come prepared to help the class develop a picture of how digital literacy has overtaken print and manuscript literacy, and how the three literacies currently co-exist for each of you.

Tuesday 9/5: Internet History and Internet Connectivity  How are digital documents stored, retrieved, and archived on networks linked to the Internet?  Networks, packet-switching, and the history of the Internet and World-Wide-Web.  

To understand the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which determines how packets are routed from your device (computer, smartphone, tablet) to other devices and storage servers which  create the screen you are  viewing,

Thursday 9/7: The Darknet.  [NOTE: Students surely know that some Web sites contain disturbing, illegal, and dangerous content.  We have to discuss them as part of the course's digital text unit, but students are not required to search for them.  Students who choose to explore the Darknet should do so carefully, and at their  own risk.  Ask me about individual sites for guidance.]

Resources for Students Wishing to Specialize in "Darknet" Digital Text Research

Week 4:  Research in Archives of Digital Texts: Digital Text Construction, History, and Future

Tuesday 9/12: What non-malicious factors affect the ordinary survival of digital documents under the best of circumstances, and what must be done to preserve digital information?  How does online reading, especially hypertext reading, affect readers' experience of the textRothenberg will challenge our sense of what makes digital texts durable enough so that we can even read them.  Then we can turn to the special problems and advantages experienced by readers of digital texts. We will discuss Bolter's optimistic forecast of the "dialogic" hypertextual world he imagined in 1991.  Students interested in cognitive studies may wish to turn from Bolter's theoretical predictions to look at Ralf Schneider's review of research in cognitive studies for what it can tell us about readers' actual experiences of digital hypertext reading and reading in standard printed texts (see the "Resources" link below).  Test Rothenberg's 1999 prediction and Birkets' three 1995 predictions on your own experience and those of your parents and grandparents.  Have they come true, totally, partially, or not at all? 

Thursday 9/14: Digital Text Lab Day #1: Bring laptops to prepare to write the first paper about how the text stored on the Web we have been using actually works.  I would be happy to help students follow some line of investigation they invent on they own, or pick some of the projects below.  Some general questions guide my suggested topics: How does online reading, especially hypertext reading, affect readers' experience of the text?  What challenges do digital surrogates pose for print literature and the future of the book?  

        Before students choose the line of investigation they will follow in this lab, they should see 9/24, the due date for the first paper, and the following links for instructions for the First written assignment due by noon in my Inbox as a MS-Word or Rich Text Format (.rtf) document attached to an email, or a URL in an email that directs me to some web-writing (using standard academic English and MLA format, of course).  Click here for possible topics and specific instructions.  For writing tips and my chief hopes for these papers, which students can treat as an evaluative rubric, click here.  Our goal is for the labs in this course to enable students to prepare to write the papers.  Plan well and the paper will serve our curiosity, and help all students to do well in the course.  Talk with me about  developing papers so that I can help focus their evolving theses and locate good research sources.

        If students already have paper ideas, they should discuss them briefly with me before plunging into research during the lab class.  If students are still looking for paper ideas, they can consult  Resources for Students Writing Paper #1 on Digital Texts, Networks, Reading and Writing


Week 5:  Research in Archives of Digital Texts: Digital Journalism as Research "Bedrock"; Digital Text Archive Construction, History, and Future

Tuesday 9/19:  The printing press and mass literacy predate by only a few hundred years the unexpected return (after Athens' fall in 400 BCE) of democratic governments, in which informed citizens vote on and otherwise affect their laws and government policies (wars, trade, crisis aid, etc.).  Democratic governments' quality of life depends, fundamentally, upon the quality of information available to each citizen, and that information (since the early 1600s) was provided by journalists reporting the "news," literally the new things that had happened or had recently been discovered.  Think about why the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids any law restricting the freedom of the press.  But the Founders made no provisions for the quality of reporting we get from our press. How will digital journalism affect the future of news, newspapers, reporting and reporters?  How has Wikipedia become so many people's online "library," and what makes Google the "librarian" or "curator" controlling our access to the World-Wide-Web? What do we pay for our dependency upon it and other search engines whose designs are even more commercially motivated? 

Thursday 9/21:  Digital Text Lab Day #2: Bring a laptop to learn more about how the Web we have been using actually works.  I would be happy to help students follow some line of investigation they invent on their own, or pick some of the projects below.  Some general questions guide my suggested topics: Who is the Internet's "Librarian" or "Curator"?  Is it Google?  What happens when pages and sites change, or even disappear?  How do changes from print to digital text archives affect the design and operations of "bricks and mortar" sites like the Goucher Library? Remember, plan research to help create Paper 1.  Students can follow one of the lines of investigation linked  below, or continue the one they began last week.  Talk with me about the developing paper so that I can help focus its evolving thesis and locate good research sources.

Resources for Students Writing Paper #1 on Digital Text, Networks, Reading and Writing, Part II

<<Friday, 9/22, 1:30-2:20--Arnie presents English 211 students with manuscript and print resources from SC&A relevant to the study of medieval and early modern English literature, including the Berners Hours (Bruges, atelier of William de Vrelant, ca. 1470).>>

Sunday, 9/24:  First written assignment due by noon in my Inbox as a MS-Word or Rich Text Format (.rtf) document attached to an email, or a URL in an email that directs me to some web-writing (using standard academic English and MLA format, of course).  Click here for possible topics and specific instructions.  For writing tips and my chief hopes for these papers, which can be treated as an evaluative rubric, click here.


Week 6:  Print Text Construction: the Print Shop, Type Fonts, and Paper   

Tuesday 9/26:  How are hand-press books printed and bound?  How do bibliographers describe hand-press books, what kinds of books were first printed, and how did they make the type fonts with which the books were printed? Before class begins--chose one of the available "cadaver books."  (Each student will study at least one book as a medical anatomy student studies a cadaver, though without taking it apart, of course.  [Some are already damaged, but learning to work with old damaged books is good training for life.])

Atlas of Early Printing (University of Iowa).  

Thursday 9/28:  How should we analyze the papers from which early printed books were made, and what kinds of evidence do they reveal?  The Paper Museum--samples of paper from many nations and for many uses.  Get ready to challenge your assumptions about what "paper" is and can be.  Also, we will do a quick introduction to typography and type design.

The "Bologna Stone" and standard hand-press-era paper sizes.  For more information on and illustrations of watermarks, see the English language index of Watermarks.info.   Digital "watermark" example.  1687/1689 Chaucer Edition Issue Images  Uncut Quarto Edition Sheets from Bindery Waste

Typography Description Class Segment  Vocabulary for describing type fonts and pieces of metal type.



Week 7:  Print Texts: Construction as Evidence of History 

A month from now you will need to read Emma Thoyts' The Key to the Family Deed Chest (London: 1893), also available under the title How to Decipher and Study Old Documents.  Print-on-demand copies can be ordered for under $10 from the Goucher College Bookstore today and would be available well before the assignment.  An online digital surrogate of the book is also available from the Internet Archive (see the Thursday Week 10 assignment), but you will find reading and note taking much easier with a print copy.

Tuesday 10/3: What did print do to the way we read, and how did circulation of print documents leave evidence of their use by readers?  How did manuscript punctuation conventions change when printers marked up MS copy for editions? 

Also, think about the significance of the data in this spreadsheet and two tables that summarize printed book production by country and by language in the first century of print--the first era in which a mass audience of readers could enter the "imaginary worlds" produced by printers:  the lifetime press output of William Caxton, England's first printer;  Incunable Production in the Fifteenth Century (Sanders ex-Rudolph Hirsch and George Painter). 

Additional Web page for today--talking points from Duguid and Brown, Eisenstein, and Manguel.  Web page re: standardization of punctuation (Manguel with notes on Thomas and Parkes.   Web page "quick guide" to Graham Pollard's general principles of dating by bookbinding styles 1550-1830.

 Thursday 10/5: Hand-Press Print Text Lab Day #1: When we hold an early printed book in our hands, what are we really holding, how and by whom was it made, and how might it relate to other versions of itself?

[NOTE: in the second hour of class, roughly from 2:20-3:20, Tara Olivero will introduce us to the Special Collections of the Library.  Once we know how to use the printed rare books in Special Collections, we will be able to take advantage of them with greater confidence for the rest of the semester.   Please do not miss this class!]

Resources for Students Interested in Specializing in Library Design, Librarianship, and Related Topics

Friday, 10/6--Earle Havens, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts:  James Work Garrett Library Tour:  Please meet at the lower entrance of the Athenaeum promptly at 1:30 for our departure by car for Evergreen Mansion (4545 N. Charles Street, between Loyola and the College of Notre Dame, both of which were built on the former grounds of the Garrett estate).  The first hour will be a tour of the Evergreen Mansion, a "Gilded Age" nineteenth-century mansion, and its associated art collections (a collection of Impressionist paintings, a private theater decorated by Leon Bakst, Japanese netsuke collection, etc.).  The house tour will conclude with the last two of its three libraries (Juvenalia, Diplomatica,and Rare Books and MSS).  We will examine some of the incunabula and early modern printed books from the collection.  We should be back on campus by 4:30.  If you need to return before 4:30, you may want to drive yourself or arrange other transportation.

Week 8:  Print Text Archival Research Methods-the Edition, and the Book, and the Library 

Tuesday 10/10: When we hold a book in our hands, what are we really holding, how and by whom was it made, and how might it relate to other versions of itself? 


[Fall Break--No Classes, Thursday October 12 to Sunday October 15]


Week 9: Start Hand-Press Book Leaf Lab--All Week!

Tuesday 10/17: Hand-Press Book Leaf Lab--hands-on analysis of leaves from a very old, hand-press printed book.  Bring laptops and smart phones and digital cameras and clean hands and no food or drink.  The tables will be crowded with equipment and fragile artifacts.  If you have not yet posted basic desbib for your cadaver book on Canvas, do so before class (format, page height, title page image and written description, basic page or folio [leaf] count).  Success in this lab will depend upon the skills that required.

The Hand-Press Book Leaf Laboratory--introduction.   See this page for some Introductory tips.  Each student will be assigned one of the laboratory book leaves.  For each leaf, we want to know: what is it?; how should we describe it?; and how do our pages relate to one another?  (Refresh your memory about good behavior with old books by reading this web page.)  Bring the results of our research to next week's first class.   When we are not in Special Collections, we still can work with our book leaves' digital images to extract as much information as they can reveal, and plan what we will try to learn from the leaves, themselves, when we have hands-on access to them.  Remember to share what we learn with ou colleagues by posting our findings on the Hand-Press Book Leaf Lab Forum on Canvas. 

Thursday 10/19:  The Hand-Press Book Leaf Laboratory:  Gathering evidence of our individual leaves and starting to share evidence with groups working on other leaves.  Read discussion forum postings by other students to begin putting your leaf's contents in context.  How would you begin to identify the text, author, printer, and edition of the book which originally contained your leaf? What do we know?  What don't we know?   How do your pages relate to one another?  How do they relate to other copies of this edition, and to other editions of this text, in the libraries of the world?  Library Home Page link to WorldCat.Com  English Short Title Catalog (SSTC)  ABEBooks.com   MeasuringWorth.com   Click here for some tips. 

        Also, look ahead to 11/4 for the Second written assignment on the hand-press book lab is due by noon in my Inbox as a MS-Word or Rich Text Format (.rtf) document attached to an email.  Click here for specific instructions.  For writing tips and my chief hopes for these papers, which can be treated as an evaluative rubric, click here.  As in the case of the digital text paper, these lab sessions are designed to enable you to write the paper.  Talk with me about the book leaves and plans to write about it.


Week 10:  Hand-Press Book Leaf Laboratory (Conclusion) / Manuscript Books (Introduction)

Tuesday 10/24: The Hand-Press Book Leaf Laboratory:   Putting All the Evidence Together.  What is the name of our text, according to standard bibliographic descriptions, and how do we know that?  What evidence exists in our book leaves to enable us to guess which printers might have created this edition, and what evidence can we use to eliminate as many as possible until we have a "most likely printer"?  Is there any "smoking gun" or incontrovertible evidence that identifies our edition and printer?  Some Possibly Relevant Digital Images for the Hand Press Book Lab

Thursday 10/26: How is manuscript text created and what kinds of character shapes do manuscript readers and writers recognize?

Click here for a paragraph of some issues to consider as we cross the technological frontier from hand-press printed books to manuscript documents and books.  Click here to sample some standardized lessons teaching the Palmer Method of cursive handwriting, a standard K-12 instruction strategy in America until the late twentieth century.  Examples of famous C19-20 American "penmen" or teachers of "business writing hands," "engrossing (copperplate) hands," and ornamental flourishes:  The Penmen.  Printable lined and half-lined page for handwriting practice.   Plumbago Mine graphite, Borrowdale, England  (Note the proximity of Borrowdale, the famous source of pencil "lead," to the birthplace and muse of one of England's greatest poets.)  Click here for two typical late medieval and Renaissance Chaucer portraits that show the poet holding a "penner." 


Week 11:  Manuscript Texts--Manuscript Lab 1

Tuesday, 10/31: Manuscript Laboratory, Part 1, introduction.   What do we know?  What don't we know?     Bring laptops to class.  As always, we must wash our hands before class and don't bring food or drink to this one.  After class, collaborative groups should spend some time with the digital image of the digital images of the recto and verso of the assigned leaves.  Most groups should be able to read it within ten minutes, especially if they read together and use the largest image (click on the first one).  Transcribe it bit by bit, and post updated versions of the transcription to the appropriate Canvas discussion forum, taking time to read other groups' transcriptions as they come in.  When we have deciphered some of the text, can we determine what it is and (in some sense) "who wrote it"?  If students are interested, this manuscript also can be part of an independent research project or the third writing assignment.  Keeping in mind what Williams and Abbott told us in "A Text and its Embodiments," we will discuss the document as a source of evidence which hand-written documents contain that most printed documents do not.  What version of the text are we reading, who might have made the document, who did not make the document, and what was it used for?  How should such a document be described so that other scholars would recognize it?  Our goal is to describe it, decipher it, identify it, and finally to understand its existence in terms of what we mean when we use the term "Author."  What kind of "author" wrote that MS? Manuscript Laboratory, Part 1. 

Thursday, 11/2:  First Hour: Manuscript Laboratory, Part 1. (conclusion). What do we know?  What don't we know?    Bring laptops to class.  As always, we must wash our hands before class and don't bring food or drink to this lab class.  

Second Hour: Parchment Museum--Read Christopher Clarkson, "Rediscovering Parchment: The Nature of the Beast."  The Paper Conservator.  16 (1992) 5-16 [In photocopied course packet from instructor]  Note that only pages 5-7 are text--the rest contain images illustrating parchment manuscript features.   Also, read this Web page about some thoughts to consider about the transition backward from print to manuscript texts.

Students interested in parchment as a book-making material should click here for two additional readings that are available.

Saturday 11/4: Second written assignment on the hand-press book lab is due by noon in my Inbox as a MS-Word or Rich Text Format (.rtf) document attached to an email.  Click here for specific instructions.  For writing tips and my chief hopes for these papers, which can be treated as an evaluative rubric, click here.

Week 12:  Parchment Manuscripts and Early Manuscript "Hands" and Documents--Manuscript Laboratory, Part 1a (whole class collaboration), and Manuscript Laboratory, Part 2 (collaborative groups).

Tuesday 11/7: Manuscript Lab, Part 1a.  This parchment manuscript is written in a much older script than the document used for Manuscript Laboratory Part 1.  Review some of the available online and print resources for the study of English "indentures," scribal documents produced for a variety of legal functions between medieval and modern times.   For basic paleography, explore English Handwriting 1500-1700:  Andrew Zurcher's site is often recommended as the best online teach-yourself program to learn to decipher Early Modern manuscript hands.  Early Modern hands tend to be tougher than Medieval hands because it became fashionable to personalize your script, and the proliferation of literacy led to variants in the construction of letter forms, so there were many ways to represent all the letters of the alphabet.  Each writer used her/his own, so once you learn your author's hand, you can read it reliably, but until you become familiar with the typical variants, it can seem pretty hard.  As always, practice makes good, if not perfect.  Click here for Arnie's suggested "multi-window" strategy for using Zurcher's tools and exemplary texts to teach your eye to read Early Modern English hands.   We will work together to examine this document.  What are its parts and what is it intended to do?  Who is mentioned in it and when and where did they live?  Can we discover more about them?  As in our previous laboratories, our goal is to describe the document, decipher it, identify it, and finally to understand its existence in terms of what we mean when we use the term "Author."  What kind of "author" wrote that MS?  Especially because you will find more than one hand in the same manuscript, you will have differing answers for different hands, much like when teachers write comments in the margins of your papers. 

Thursday, 11/9:  Manuscript Laboratory, Part 2  You will study one of six parchment manuscripts in teams of two and three.  These are older examples of the same type of document that we studied in MS Lab 1a, so its parts and function should be very similar, but the scribal hands are more difficult because the documents are older.  But first, make sure you record the most basic information about your document, as you should for any book or manuscript you are studying: Indenture MS Reading Lab Basics  Then, use Zurcher's "hand alphabets" to help you decipher it.  Click here for Arnie's suggested "multi-window" strategy for using Zurcher's tools and exemplary texts to teach your eye to read Early Modern English hands.    As before, our goal is to describe it, decipher it, identify it, and finally to understand its existence in terms its means of production and the people/places/things it served. What kind of "author" wrote that MS?  Who and what is named in it, and why was it written?  Especially because you will find more than one hand in the same manuscript, you will have differing answers for different hands, much like when teachers write comments in the margins of your papers.

Week 13: Early Modern Manuscript Documents (conclusion) / Medieval Manuscript Documents--Scribes, Scripts, Scribal Hands, and Manuscript Libraries

Tuesday 11/14:  Laboratory, Part 2  What do we know and what don't we know?  Sharing our final conclusions about the documents in MS Lab 2.  For a recent news item about a similar document's current legal force, see David De Jong, "Yale to Be Paid Interest on Dutch Water Authority Bond of 1648," Bloomberg.com, 16 September 2015.

Thursday 11/16: Topic 1--How do medieval manuscript books relate to early printed books, and how were manuscript books made? 

Drogin Aids: Scribal Manuscript Book Production  Illuminated MS leaves for descriptive vocabulary practice

Topic 2--How were medieval manuscript books stored, organized, retrieved for use, and protected from destruction  

Students who are specifically interested in medieval manuscripts, their preservation and destruction, should click here for more online links.


Week 14: Medieval manuscript books and scribal hands--MS Lab 3

Tuesday 11/21:  Manuscript Lab 3--What techniques and vocabulary do scholars have for analyzing Medieval scripts?  How did Medieval scribes abbreviate and punctuate?  How did scribes form the major scripts you are likely to encounter (Carolingian miniscule [C8 to mid-C12, 1150]; early gothic [C11-12]; gothic textura quadrata [C13-15]; and gothic littera bastarda [C13 to Early Modern period, ca. 1500]? 

Click on the "Manuscript Lab 3" hyperlink for for instructions and for hyperlinks to preview digital images of the actual manuscript fragments we will be analyzing.  Click here for some background context on this lab.

Wednesday 11/23 through Sunday 11/26--THANKSGIVING VACATION. 

Saturday, 11/25, or sooner, Third written assignment is due in my inbox by noon reflecting upon and analyzing the first or second manuscript book lab, your experiences as you worked with it, and the text's relationship to its origins and to our era.  Click here for specific instructions.  For writing tips and my chief hopes for these papers, which can be treated as as an evaluative rubric, click here.


 Week 15: Individual Research Projects

Tuesday 11/28: Introduction to Individual Research Projects in Special Collections: James W. Bright Collection, Alberta Burke Collection, Oberdorfer Twain Collection, etc.  Plan and research individual projects on manuscript, print, or digital texts and archives.  Studies of volumes from the James Wilson Bright Collection are encouraged, of course, but students should pursue their intellectual curiosities.  Research will be independent, but I am happy to help in any way I can, and please remember the valuable expertise on hand from the Library staff.  Tara Olivero knows the collection extremely well.  Melissa Straw is an expert in analysis of the material construction of documents.  Nancy Magnuson is an experienced researcher familiar with neighboring rare book collections' holdings that might be helpful to you.

        After the introductory session, we will run the class as a workshop in the main SCA reading room.  Students should claim some space at one of the tables and work with Tara, me, and the course teaching assistant to set up the materials they need to work with.   primary source(s) would enable us to continue working when SC&A is closed.  Using those images, we also can astonish friends and family with the neat stuff we are discovering.  When each of the workshop classes is over, students should make sure they leave their work sites neat, taking special care to relocate any Rare Book Collection or English 341 rare materials on the proper book trucks until the next workshop.  Be sure to schedule a meeting with me soon to discuss projecst before getting deeply committed to a given research topic.  I can meet with you on Friday, Wednesday, or Monday of the next two weeks, or in the mornings of TuTh before class.

Thursday 11/30: Individual Research Projects in Special Collections--work on your research, bring us problems to solve, help others solve problems.

Week 16: Individual Research Projects

Tuesday 12/5: Individual Research Projects in Special Collections--work on research, bring us problems to solve, help others solve problems.

Thursday 12/7: At 1:30, assemble at the Athenaeum's lower entrance and leave by car for the Walters Art Museum Rare Book and Manuscript Collection for a tour of the Reading Room.  (Refresh your memory about good behavior with old books by reading this web page.)  We should be ready to leave the Walters by 4:30 or 5:00, but students who need to leave sooner,  may want to drive themselves or arrange other transportation.

Friday 12/8: Reading Period--I will be in Special Collections and Archives all day to help students focus their Independent Research Project preliminary reports, due Tues-Thurs., 12/11 (TBA) and the written reports due before noon the following Friday in my inbox as an email attachment.  If the format of your project requires delivery in another form (physical book, Web-based report, etc.), please make arrangements with me first.


[Week 17: Independent Research Projects Tues-Thurs. (TBA); Cadaver Book Descriptive Bibliography Due Monday 12/11; written IRP Reports due before Noon Friday 12/15.]

Monday, 12/11: The Cadaver Book Descriptive Bibliography is due today, but you can have until later in the week if you need the time.   If possible I will be in Special Collections and Archives all day Monday to help with last-minute report writing issues and to make it possible to deliver non-digital IRPs.

Wednesday, 12/13, 9AM to 11AM: our "Final Experience" in English 341.  Independent Research Project Preliminary ReportsClick here for the presentation schedule.  Students will, very briefly, show us some highlights of what they have found about the subject of their research so far.  They should be sure to make available, either online or in a printed handout, a bibliographic description of the subject text and a bibliography of works they consulted while working on it.  Because we have a large class and only one day to discuss these projects, everyone will have to be well-prepared and ready to limit their initial presentation to five to seven minutes.  A completed written version of the report will be due before noon Friday.  The deadline is, as always, negotiable, and earlier reports would be welcome. 

By or before Friday 12/15 of Exam Week: Written version of Independent Research Project Report is due (either as MS-Word or web page or other format--please negotiate to insure that I can access and read it!).  This due date is negotiable as long as you are not a senior graduating in December. If you have time, read "The Jewel Game", an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's Kim.  It seems to be about what we are trying to learn to do.