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Core Courses

BKS 1001H: Introduction to Book History

Prof. Alan Galey (Faculty of Information), Fall 2019, Mondays 2:00 – 5:00 pm, McLean-Hunter Room, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

This foundational course, required for all BHPC students in their first term, will introduce students to basic topics such as the semiotics of the book; orality and writing systems; book production from manuscript to the latest computer technology; the development of printing; the concept of authorship; copyright; censorship; the economics of book production and distribution; libraries and the organization of information; principles of bibliographical description; print in other formats (newspapers, magazines, advertisements, etc.); reading and readership; editorial theory and practice. We will also study many artifacts and tools of the trade in situ through visits to the Massey College Bibliography Room and Coach House Books.

Sample syllabus (Fall 2017): Galey_BKS1001H_f2017.pdf
Sample syllabus (Fall 2019): Galey_BKS1001H_f2019.pdf


BKS 1002H: Book History in Practice

Prof. Claire Battershill (Dept. of English), Winter 2020, Mondays 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Colin Friesen Room, Massey College

Offered in the Winter Term and required for all Master’s students in the BHPC Program, this course develops many of the themes from BKS 1001H in a seminar format. The approach of the course reflects what David Greetham calls “the disciplinary interrelatedness of all aspects of the study of the book” (Textual Scholarship: An Introduction, p. 2). The course consists of seminars on key topics in book history, punctuated by case studies of particular books, events, and debates. These case studies are designed to pull together ongoing threads of inquiry from the readings, and to allow students to work outward from specific artifacts to general questions. Prerequisite: BKS 1001H.

Sample syllabi:


BKS 2000H: Advanced Seminar in Book History and Print Culture

An advanced seminar required for all doctoral students in the BHPC Program, this course will vary in content from year to year depending upon the expertise of the faculty member appointed to lead it. The term-paper research project will be open to work in all disciplines, periods, and languages in consultation with the instructor. Prerequisite or corequisite for BHPC students: BKS 1001H. May be available without prerequisite to students outside the program by permission of instructor.

2019-2020 seminar:

Duplicators: the DIY Ethic and DIY Aesthetics in C20-21 Lit

Prof. Adam Hammond (Dept. of English), Winter 2020, Wednesdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm

Virginia Woolf devotes much of Three Guineas to the question of how to achieve “intellectual liberty” — and comes to an eminently practical conclusion: publish your own work. In what is perhaps the earliest formulation of the “DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Ethic,” she positions “the private printing press,” “typewriters,” and “duplicators” as “cheap and so far unforbidden instruments” by which one can bypass “the pressure of boards and editors” and thus “speak [one’s] own mind.” This course employs the methods of Book History, Periodical Studies, and Science and Technology Studies to explore the literary impact of “duplicators” in key moments of twentieth and twenty-first century Anglo-American literature. Focusing on early-twentieth century modernism (printed little magazines like The Egoist and Fire!! and independent presses like Woolf’s Hogarth), mid-century New York School poetry (mimeographed journals like C, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, and The Floating Bear), riot grrrl (photocopied zines like Bikini Kill and Girl Germs), and independent videogames (made in Twine, Source, and Unity), we will investigate the relationship between the material, technological, and social conditions that enable inexpensive self-publication and the forms of aesthetic expression and social engagement that they afford.

Please follow this link for a list of previous offerings of BKS2000H.


BKS2001H: Practicum in Book History and Print Culture

An individual project for PhD students intended to serve as a bridge from coursework to the dissertation, taken under the supervision of a BHPC-affiliated faculty member. The practicum project may lead directly into dissertation research, or may allow the student to explore a side project, and the student’s approach should be decided in consultation with the PhD supervisor and BHPC Director. The primary learning outcome of any BKS 2001H project should be for the student to be able to translate individual research interests into scholarly projects that engage with methods and concepts from the field of book history, broadly defined. Proposals from BHPC Master’s students may be considered under exceptional circumstances; interested Master’s students should email the Director and Program Coordinator well in advance of the deadline to consult about eligibility.

Timing.    Enrollment is normally limited to doctoral students in the BHPC Program. BKS 2001H should be completed by the end of the student’s coursework period within the home unit (normally Year 1), or in the summer immediately thereafter. Please note that eligibility for the BHPC Student Research Awards and BHPC Printing Apprenticeships at Massey College is conditional upon timely enrollment in BKS 2001H.

Types of Projects.      Examples of BHPC practicum projects include exhibitions and/or accompanying catalogues, online exhibitions or other digital projects, bibliographies, scholarly editions of short works and other forms of in-depth case studies, and printing or other projects in conjunction with the Massey College Library’s Bibliography Room. A list of completed practicum projects may be found here. Students are welcome and encouraged to expand upon the forms of previous practicum projects, and to propose hands-on projects that take advantage of the resources available through Massey College, the University of Toronto, and the city’s book arts community, and are advised to consult with librarians and archivists as they plan their projects. It is possible for a student to work closely with a non-faculty mentor or collaborator, as long as the official practicum supervisor holds an SGS appointment and BHPC affiliation. (The BHPC Director can add new faculty members to the affiliated list upon their request, provided the faculty member’s research has a demonstrable connection to BHPC’s fields of study, broadly defined.)

Students whose projects incur expenses for materials (e.g. special paper for a printing project) are encouraged to contact the Director and Program Coordinator.

Grading and Structure.          The practicum is a graded course. The student and supervisor must consult in advance on how the final grade will be determined, and make the grading structure (including percentages for graded deliverables) clear in the practicum proposal. The participation grade, if any, may not exceed 20% of the course grade. It is recommended that students and supervisors avoid single end-of-term deliverables worth more than 80%, and instead break large assignments into smaller, separately graded stages (e.g. a preliminary outline, annotated bibliography, etc.) so that students receive feedback early in the project. (See also the section on reading and research courses, under “Alternate Course Types,” in the SGS Policy on Graduate Courses & Other Academic Activities.)

Submitting a Proposal.           The practicum proposal must be submitted to the Program Coordinator (bookhistory@masseycollege.ca) by November 1 for a Winter Term course and April 1 for a Summer or Fall course. The proposal should be a single PDF document, and should include the following information:

  • practicum title
  • name of practicum supervisor
  • 500-word description of the project, detailing its scope, methods, goals, and the collections and resources it will draw upon
  • a brief bibliography of primary and secondary sources
  • grading structure

The practicum supervisor should also send the Program Coordinator an email confirming that they’ve read and approved the proposal. Proposals will be reviewed by the Program Director and Committee, with the results communicated to students normally within two weeks of submission.

Examples of successful proposals may be requested from the Program Coordinator.

Final Grade Submission.     Supervisors must submit final course grades to the Program Coordinator at least 10 business days prior to the SGS grade submission deadline for the term (see the SGS listing of sessional dates for specific deadlines. Please note that outside of serious health or personal emergencies, there is normally no flexibility on SGS grade submission deadlines. Supervisors and students should determine assignment deadlines accordingly.



Upcoming Events

  1. The George Kiddell Lecture on the History of the Book

    Thursday, March 5 @ 6:00 PM
  2. BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium

    Saturday, March 28
  3. The Johanna and Leon Katz Memorial Lecture

    Thursday, April 16 @ 6:00 PM

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