Required and Recommended Printed Texts


Drogin, Marc.  Medieval Calligraphy, Its History and Technique.  N.Y.: Dover, 1980. (List in 2017, $16.95--available used from U.S. booksellers for as little as $13.18 with free shipping as of 10/30/17 on  Just copy and enter the title, but don't bother ordering from the United Kingdom unless you have many weeks to spare for the book to make its way across the ocean.)

Silvey, Deborah, Evelyn B. Tribble, and Anne Trubek, eds.  Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age.  N.Y.: Longman, 2003.  (List in 2007, $66--available used.)

Thoyts, Emma Elizabeth [Cope].  The Key to the Family Deed Chest : How to Decipher and Study Old Documents: Being a Guide to the Reading of Ancient Manuscripts.  London: Elliott Stock, 1893. 

          If you want a new copy of this book from a print-on-demand publisher, it will be a perfectly fine substitute for a copy originally published in print with a publishers' binding.  lThey are availabe (as of 10/30/17) from U.S. booksellers via for as little as $3.48 with free shipping.  We will discuss it as an example of the complex state of “the text” in the post-modern era.  A free, digitized facsimile edition is available from the Internet Archive at this Web URL:  There may be reasons you might wish to have a printed paper copy, but this facsimile will be useful to consult in a pinch.

Williams, William Proctor, and Craig S. Abbott.  An Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies.  4th ed.  N.Y.: Modern Language Assocation, 2009.  (List,$19.75--only available used in earlier editions, of which the 3rd would be the best substitute.)


Brown, Michelle.  Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms.  Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum & British Library, 1994.

Gaskell, Philip.  A New Introduction to Bibliography.  New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll, 1995.

        Drogin provides a good, well-illustrated introduction to the production of Medieval manuscript texts.  Students interested in further work in Medieval manuscripts will find that his generalizations sometimes obscure important technical differences that professional manuscript scholars believe are important.  More advanced readings are available for this delightful and vast field of study.  This text is a bargain, especially if you can get it discounted or lightly used.

        Tribble and Trubek's anthology was assigned mainly to provide properly copyright-cleared access to some important articles about the print vs. digital transformation of text production.  As is the case with most anthologies, the majority of its readings are not assigned.  Nevertheless, the astute browser will find that many of them will provide very accessible and stimulating discussions of print-to-digital aspect of the course discussion.  Because the anthology was designed as a freshman composition anthology configured for a (very challenging!) course based on the "writing studies" movement, T and T have selected and edited readings to be accessible for advanced freshmen.  You may observe that the library's print collection also contains a copy of this text.  This anthology is extremely expensive, due in part to the large number of copyright-protected excerpts and whole articles they have paid to republish.

        Williams and Abbott also are a compromise between assigning one of the "Bibles" of bibliographic description (e.g., Fredson Bowers or Philip Gaskell) or limiting our discussion of book description technology to a very simplified level.  Both Bowers and Gaskell are available in the library collection, and students interested in print text production will find them extremely valuable for solving problems W & A do not address.  Gaskell's diagrams of "imposition schemes" (the way printers set up type for printing multiple pages at once) present the best available tool for determining the printing format of printed books.  Together with the DVD from the Rare Book School (see the Syllabus), Gaskell and Bowers constitute the core of the Rare Book School's Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography and Advanced Bibliography courses.  If you think you might want to attend RBS some day, Those two authors are your best guides for preparation.  For what W & A provide, this text seems appropriately priced.

        Brown will be important for students who want to work with medieval manuscripts, which can lead to internships at the Walters Art Museum, the Folger, or the Library of Congress.  The library has two illuminated manuscript books, a tall (2+ feet!) "antiphonary" containing the music and lyrics for the Missa pro defunctis (Mass for the Dead).  We also have sixteen illuminated manuscript leaves from another manuscript, and I have a collection of illuminated manuscript fragments, and the "Berners Hours," a 237-leaf book of hours probably produced in the 1470s in Bruges (now Belgium) by craftspeople  associated with the workshop of William de Vrelant.  We also have numerous whole leaves of Latin medieval books, and one gathering.  We also have early modern (1500-1700) manuscripts in Spanish and French, and modern manuscripts in English (2 whole C19 cookbooks), French (a C19-20 cookbook and governess's record book), and Bulgarian (a C20 cookbook entirely about baked deserts).  All of these manuscripts are available for final projects.  For those working with medeival MSS, Brown does a nice job of explaining the arcane terms used to describe the color and form of medieval manuscript illumination, literally "adding of light" to the MSS by using colored inks, gold and silver leaf, and various precious stones in powdered form.  Because early printed books sought to imitate the style of manuscript books, the better to please the manuscript-trained readers, students interested in Early Modern printed books also may find Brown a useful "back-sight" to use when understanding the logic of early printed book construction.

        Additional readings are available online via hyperlinks from  the Syllabus for the days when they are assigned.  Please take time at the beginning of the semester to work through all the primary assignment links from the Syllabus to make sure your computer can access them properly.  Also, some readings are stored on GoucherLearn.  Please visit GoucherLearn before the first reading stored there so that we can solve any access problems you may have.