BKS2000H: Previous Offerings

Previous Offerings of the Advanced Seminar in Book History

2022-2023: Books at Risk

Prof. Ann Komaromi (Comparative Literature), Winter 2023, Thursdays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Round Room, Massey College.

This course combines questions and methods from book history and comparative literature to examine what happens to textual objects when they travel (or fail to travel) across geographical and temporal borders. Seizure and prohibition, fire, theft, bombing and physical decay are among the factors that may threaten the life of books. How do publishing and self-publishing, distribution, collection and restoration in institutional, private or clandestine libraries reflect interests in cultural production, preservation and transmission? What have people considered to be the books and texts worth saving and why?

We will take up B. Venkat Mani’s challenge to abstract and cloistered concepts of world literature and examine as he does the life and death of the material text in concrete locations. This means critically interrogating what David Damrosch described as the “detached engagement” with world literature. It also entails nuancing broad claims by critics including Emily Apter and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak about power imbalances. We will look at the range of values and circumstances that influence the life of books in locations where war, disaster, authoritarian governments and regime change may impact what and how people read. We will develop our analytic toolkit by moving from Darnton’s communication circuit toward a socialized and material understanding of the text’s lives and afterlives as outlined by scholars including Peter McDonald, Jerome McGann and D. F. McKenzie. We will consider examples such as the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the clandestine book trade in pre-revolutionary France, attempts to save books and manuscripts during WWII, literary censorship in South Africa, literature smuggled across Soviet borders and the restoration of damaged medieval manuscripts. Students will be encouraged to hone their analysis of material and social aspects of texts that interest them in light of questions about cultural production, transmission and preservation.

2021-2022: Critical Approaches to Digitized and Born-Digital Texts

Prof. Alan Galey (Faculty of Information & Dept. of English), Winter 2022, Thursdays, 2:00 – 5:00 pm, Round Room, Massey College.

This seminar combines two topics which specialists often treat as separate: 1) the digitization of printed and manuscript books and documents from the past; and 2) the study of born-digital texts from the present (and very recent past). By now, however, many digitization projects have themselves become historical artifacts, and their curation requires many of the same forensic skills that other scholars have been honing in their study of born-digital texts. Digital archives in all forms thus require us to think holistically and across disciplines. The intersection between book history and the digital humanities is populated by numerous subfields, including platform studies, critical code studies, media archaeology, publishing studies, digital curation, and archival studies—not to mention the flourishing industry of digitization projects, large and small. Yet all of these fields engage with the production, transmission, and reception of texts, which places them in continuity with the older textual disciplines (e.g. bibliography, book history, textual criticism, and scholarly editing). Whether we are considering a digitized medieval manuscript or contemporary literary app, we face the challenge of understanding a digital object as both text and artifact.

Students in this course will adapt methods and principles from the various branches of textual scholarship to understand how digitized and born-digital texts work, who shapes their construction and reception, what meanings they make, and why they matter as digital heritage. Students will be encouraged to introduce their own examples in the class, reflecting their own disciplinary and historical interests. We will also explore subtopics including the politics of digitization, the gendering of technologies and labour, the hazy borderline between digitization and art, definitions of digital materiality, theories of cultural memory, and recent changes in the printing, publishing, and bookselling industries (especially in light of COVID-19). No prior coding knowledge is expected, but students will be encouraged to work in both technical and theoretical modes, and as a class we will explore beyond our historical and disciplinary comfort zones.

2020-2021: The Archive as Text

Prof. Heather MacNeil (Faculty of Information), Winter 2021, Tuesdays 2:00 – 5:00 pm

The field of textual studies is concerned with the production, transmission, preservation, and ongoing history of texts. Recent developments in this field have encouraged an expansion of the term “text” to include all attempts at representation whatever form they may take. Drawing on readings from a range of fields, including textual criticism, archival studies, history, anthropology, and lifewriting, this seminar will explore how archives might be conceptualized as texts and the implications and limitations of that conceptualization.

2019-2020: Duplicators: the DIY Ethic and DIY Aesthetics in C20-21 Lit

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.

2018-2019: The Medieval Book Then and Now - Adam S. Cohen (Department of Art)

The Medieval Book Then and Now
Adam S. Cohen (Department of Art):SS 6032
Winter term, 2019: Thursdays 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

This seminar primarily investigates the different ways that people embellished books in the Middle Ages and the meaning those held for a wide range of contemporary makers and users. Focus will be paid to the religious, political, and social messages communicated by the inclusion of decoration in these European books, which range from Gospels, to literature and history, to private devotional works. In addition, we will explore the methods and motivations behind the study, preservation, and presentation of medieval manuscripts in the modern world (including digital platforms). Students will be encouraged to develop their required presentation on a topic suitable to their disciplinary or intellectual interests, which might extend to non-European medieval material.

2017-2018: Reading and Nationalisms - Heather Murray (Department of English)

Reading and Nationalisms
Heather Murray (Department of English): Jackman Humanities Building (JHB718)
Winter Term, 2018: Wednesday 9:00 – 11:00

This course will consider the relationship between “reading” (broadly defined) and emergent nationalisms in the seventy-year period from 1870 until the beginning of the Second World War. In other words, we will examine the belief that there is (or could be, or should be) a “national” subject, and that reading has an important role to play in the shaping of this national subject or citizen. Some core questions lie at the centre of this topic: what practices (reading instruction, literacy promotion) have governments undertaken to promote reading? Is the national reader a reader of nationally-produced materials, or should he (or, although variantly, she) read non-national/international materials in a specific way? How have progressive nationalists attempted to direct reading in the services of their own (demotic, democratic, or socialist) political agendas?

The focus of this course is less on what was read in the period 1870-1940 than on debates about who should read, and how. While many analyses of the “rise of the reading public” focus on the early-to-mid nineteenth century, these topics appear somewhat differently when emergent nations and a slightly later time period, are examined. (The decade of the 1870s marks the immediate aftermath of Canadian Confederation, the United States centenary, the consolidation of imperial rule in India, and the beginnings of both state-sponsored education and the linking of colonies via telegraphy in Australia.) While the course itself will focus on these four colonial/postcolonial cases, class participants are invited to consider other countries and colonies (in Europe, for example, or the Caribbean) and to explore this topic in interdisciplinary ways. Students specializing in earlier historical periods are welcome to consider these questions with reference to pre- or proto-national situations, or other forms of state organization.

2016-2017: The Nineteenth-Century Information Age: Readers, Markets, and Media - Angela Esterhammer (Department of English)

The Nineteenth-Century Information Age: Readers, Markets, and Media
Angela Esterhammer (Department of English): Northrop Frye Centre, Victoria College (VC102)
Winter Term, 2017: Wednesday 3:00-6:00

This course looks at current work in print culture and media history using nineteenth-century Britain and Europe as a source of case studies. Focusing on primary texts together with recent research, we will discuss the evolution of the literary marketplace from 1800 to 1840, reading habits, visual media and new technologies, and the popularity of periodicals and magazines. We will emphasize the reciprocal influence of publishing and marketing practices on genre, content, interpretation, and reception. Developments to be studied include the trend toward shorter prose forms and serial fiction; experiments with hybrid genres; notions of authorship, authority, and authenticity; and complex relationships among editors, authors, and readers that involve pseudonymity and hoaxing.

Seminars will allow participants to bring their own research interests into relation with course material in presentations leading to term papers. These projects may expand on some aspect of nineteenth-century print culture or explore how new research tools and methodologies including digital humanities can be used to study this period. Alternatively, participants may apply a theme or theory studied in the course to their own period/area of focus (e.g., editor-author-reader relationships, the evolution of genre in tandem with new media and technology).

2015-2016: Mediascapes: Text, Stories, Land - Pamela Klassen (Department for the Study of Religion)

Mediascapes: Text, Stories, Land
Pamela Klassen (Department for the Study of Religion) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term, 2016: Wednesday 1:00-4:00

This class will focus on the role of texts and print culture in telling stories—or “fundamental” myths—that reshape land. Deeds of property, maps that survey a domain to facilitate resource extraction, sacred scriptures, missionary journalism, and travel literature are all textual modes that claim land, with greater or lesser force. Many of the readings will focus on Indigenous-missionary/settler relations in North America, with some comparative examples drawn from literature on the Roman Empire and medieval Europe. We will also consider primary sources such as legal transcripts and missionary diaries.

This course will follow a “case study” model. After we devote ourselves to the primary and secondary sources respecting the subject here described, in the final month of the term each student will be free to pursue a topically and/or theoretically related case of his or her own, either from among the materials already considered or from a different period or field. Each student will then present a report to the class, which will lead to a substantial work of scholarship, grounded in the bibliography, history, and theory of “mediascapes” and print culture, to be submitted at the end of the course as a term paper.

2014-2015: Vulgar Tongues: Antiquarianism, Orality, and Print Culture in the Romantic Era - Dan White (Department of English)

Vulgar Tongues: Antiquarianism, Orality, and Print Culture in the Romantic Era
Dan White (Department of English) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term, 2015; Tuesday 1:00-4:00

Eighteenth-century antiquarians collected and catalogued everything, including speech. In the 1780s, Francis Grose published A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) and A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions (1787). By the 1820s, Grose’s works had been joined by James Henry Vaux’s Vocabulary of the Flash Language (1819) and brought up to date in a new edition by Pierce Egan, canting author of Life in London (1821). This course will explore antiquarianism in general and its interest in local languages in particular, from high life to low, urban to rural, in order to understand relations between orality and print culture. Treating the engagement with dialect and slang of a wide range of writers, from Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Clare to Byron, Hazlitt, and Hunt to Edgeworth, Burns, and Scott, we will consider how antiquarian and other, more urbane approaches to language fashioned different politics of sociability and community; contributed to the rise of tourism; produced new understandings of nationalism, provincialism, and cosmopolitanism; and brought the empire home to the metropole.

This course will follow a “case study” model. After we devote ourselves to the primary and secondary sources respecting the subject here described, in the final month of the term each student will be free to pursue a topically and/or theoretically related case of his or her own, either from among the materials already considered or from a different period or field. Each student will then present a report to the class, which will lead to a substantial work of scholarship, grounded in the bibliography, history, and theory of orality in its relation to print culture, to be submitted at the end of the course as a term paper.

2013-2014: The Archive as Text - Heather MacNeil (Faculty of Information)

The Archive as Text
Heather MacNeil (iSchool) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term, 2014; Wednesday 1:30-3:30

The field of textual studies is concerned with the production, transmission, preservation, and ongoing history of texts. Recent developments in this field have encouraged an expansion of the term “text” to include all attempts at representation whatever form they may take. They have also encouraged a stronger focus on the constructed nature of texts to emphasize the various ways in which texts are shaped and reshaped as they are resituated and re-contextualized in different environments and by different authorities. In so doing this new textual scholarship challenges traditional notions of what constitutes a text and what makes a text “authentic”.

2012-2013: The Death — and Lives — of the Author - Jeannine DeLombard (Department of English)

The Death — and Lives — of the Author
Jeannine DeLombard (Department of English) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College Winter Term, 2013; Wednesdays, 3-5 pm

We often imagine the transition from manuscript to print as a departure from the body — from manual inscription to disembodied textuality. What, then, happens to people in this process? If printed texts bear ever-diminishing traces of the bodies that created them, who fills the place of the flesh-and-blood author? What kinds of persons emerge from printed texts? Shaped by the rise of professional authorship, the industrialization of communications and transportation technologies, and the intensifying debate over slavery, 18th and 19th century Anglo-American print culture offers a rich case study for one of the central concerns of book history: how persons and print reciprocally produce each other.

Transatlantic works of this period lead us to consider how printed texts might create not only their own authors and their ideal readers but the very publics in which they circulate. And how is it that print in this era renders some (white, male, able) bodies invisible, while making other (darker, female, or disabled) bodies newly legible? And how do printed texts reattach themselves to physical bodies by eliciting sentimental tears, gothic shivers, sexual passion, or political action?

This course finds answers to these tantalizing questions in autobiographies, copyright pages, libel suits, and celebrity book tours. Ranging from early 18th-century Anglo-American gallows confessions to the recent Paul Dano film, Ruby Sparks (dir., Zoe Kazan, 2012), we will consider how published texts produce persons even as they leave human bodies behind. Conversely, we will also examine the dramatic impact printed texts have on real-world lives. To this end, we will read the slave narrative’s transformative social and political claims against legal scandals involving British West Indian slave Mary Prince and kidnapped black New Yorker Solomon Northup. And we will explore how Herman Melville’s status as “the first American literary sex symbol” may have compromised his marketability — and output — as professional novelist. Throughout, students will gain a valuable grounding in classic theoretical works, from Althusser on ideology, DeMan on autobiography, and Barthes and Foucault on the death of the author, to Habermas on the public sphere.

A key component of the seminar will be students’ own research agendas, which will drive the final third of the course. Applying our shared analytic to individual research interests across diverse fields and disciplines, seminar members will enrich our understanding of how persons publishing, in effect, published persons.

Prerequisite: BKS 1001, ENG 8000, or permission of the instructor.

2011-2012: Case Studies in the History of Censorship - Tom Keymer (Department of English)

Case Studies in the History of Censorship 
Thomas Keymer (Department of English) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term, 2012; Thursdays, 1-3 pm

Censorship is not only an instrument of control or suppression but also, as Annabel Patterson argues in her classic study of 1984, a discipline to which we partly owe our concept of literature as a discourse with characteristics of its own. While regulating what could be said, and how, censorship could also stimulate ingenious strategies of circumvention, from clandestine presses and decoy imprints to the techniques of ellipsis and innuendo to which the licenser-turned-libeller Roger L’Estrange referred when calling his Fables, of Aesop (1692) ‘a Train of Mystery and Circumlocution’. In important respects, the institutions and mechanisms of press regulation in England, from pre-publication licensing to retributive mutilation, may have energized the production of literature as much as they also constrained it.

The rich scholarship on early modern censorship and its effects has not been matched for the eighteenth century, and historians of the book still sometimes deploy a Whiggish narrative of emergent toleration and liberty of the press following the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695. But the collapse of Restoration licensing was far from meaning the end of state control, and new statutes against blasphemy and obscenity coexisted in the century to follow with vigorous exploitation of the law of seditious libel. Measures undertaken in times of political crisis, such as the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 and the sedition and treason trials of 1792-4, rule out any simple narrative of progressive liberalization.

2010-2011: The Medieval and Renaissance Book: Value Added - Adam S. Cohen (Department of Art)

The Medieval and Renaissance Book: Value Added 
Adam S. Cohen (Department of Art) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term ; Mondays, 10-1

This seminar investigates the different ways that people embellished books in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Focus will be paid to the religious, political, and social messages communicated principally by the inclusion of images in these books, though a consideration of scripts, covers, and other material aspects of books will also be treated. The first two weeks of the semester comprise an introduction to the medieval book as both physical and theoretical entity and to the principles of medieval art history. A series of individual case studies then introduce students to books of different types, drawn from a wide chronological scope, and investigated from different methodological perspectives (e.g., the Lindisfarne Gospels of ca. 715, the Lectionary of Abbess Uta from 1025, the twelfth-century St. Albans Psalter, the Book of Hours of Queen Jeanne d’Evreux from the fourteenth century, the Trés Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry of ca. 1400). Throughout the semester, students also prepare their own research topic (selected in consultation with the instructor based on individual interests and research skills), which will be presented to the class in the final weeks before being handed in as a major paper. This research topic may involve the embellishment of books from any period, including the modern. The seminar will teach students about the integral role that decoration of all sorts played in the creation of Medieval and Renaissance books and how that decoration can be assessed to garner insights about the value and meaning these books held for a wide range of contemporary makers and users. It is expected that the methodological lessons will be applicable to work in disciplines other than art history and in periods other than the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

2009-2010: Used Books: Doing Things with Print in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain - Deidre Lynch (Department of English)

Used Books: Doing Things with Print in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain
Deidre Lynch

Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Fall Term, 2009; Wednesdays, 2-5 pm

The humanities disciplines are connected by a mode of knowledge-production that is the outcome of reading, as opposed to the outcome of doing, but this connection has not always been an advantage when it comes to producing knowledge about reading itself. Reading may be, as Leah Price has recently argued, too close for comfort–though recent developments in the history of reading suggest that humanists are better than they used to be at acknowledging that books’ histories do not end when the labours of authors do. The real problem might be, however, that some of us have a professional interest in forgetting the diversity of activities that can go by the name of reading. This might be true especially of those professional readers who populate departments of literature, who tend to make “a reading” synonymous with “an interpretation,” and who often talk as if the advocacy for the program of intellectual emancipation called “critical reading” were their departments’ principal raison d’etre.

As amalgams of materiality and meaning, books lend themselves to uses that go beyond the cognitive activity of entextualization. They produce linguistic effects, but they are also social artefacts; individuals’ relations to these artefacts are devotional and emotional as well as intellectual. Furthermore, to consider books’ social circulation is to realize that books have never existed simply or exclusively to be written and read; historically it has often been acknowledged quite explicitly that their destiny is also to be owned, or collected, or given, or marked up, or used as storage containers, or dismantled into their component parts so as to be recycled in unauthorized forms. That this diversity of uses might have important consequences for our understanding of print cultures past and for our pedagogical practices at present is a possibility that this course will explore. And to focus our exploration we’ll be considering a select number of case studies in the formation of social norms for reading–and social norms for not reading–from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. As we shall see, this is a place and a time in which the increasing availability of books seems as never before to threaten social hierarchy, when (as Jon Klancher has explained) the social conflict of classes takes cultural form as a struggle over the classification of types of readers and reading styles; when elites attempt to drive a wedge between the meaning-making work of reception, on the one hand, and the brute appetites of consumption, on the other; and when the bad consumer–in the guise sometimes of the quixote, at other times of the bibliomaniac–emerges as a new kind of cultural villain.

Some of the topics we’ll consider to assemble a reader-centred story of norms, regulation and resistance are as follows: the trumping of edification by identification in quixote stories; reading for use vs. reading for appreciation; the history of taste (vs. its cruder double, appetite); solitary reading vs. reading in company; gift books and album culture (and the place of poetry within that culture); Bible-readings; bibliomania. Contemporary theorists and historians of textual and para-textual culture we’ll be reading include Michael Warner, Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu, Peter Stallybrass, Robert Darnton, Ina Ferris, H. J. Jackson, Denise Gigante, Jon Klancher, Nick Dames, Patrick Brantlinger, Garrett Stewart, and Leah Price.

2008-2009: Studies in Collected Editions - Jane Millgate (Department of English)

Studies in Collected Editions
Jane Millgate : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Fall Term, 2008; Thursdays, 4-6 pm

The course will explore a range of issues associated with single-author collected editions. The selection of authors will take into account the particular interests of the students enrolled in the course and will not be restricted by period, but in order to maintain focused discussion of general issues such as concepts of authorship, methods of book production, editorial theory, readership, copyright, market forces, etc. the editions studied will be nineteenth or twentieth-century.

Where relevant, some attention may, of course, be given to the prehistory of collecting the works of the author being studied: it is hard to imagine an exploration of a nineteenth-century collected edition of Shakespeare that did not touch on the First Folio.

It is expected that most students will select for individual study a conventionally printed collected edition of a literary author—e.g. the New York edition of Henry James, the Chapman edition of Jane Austen—but it may be possible, subject to the instructor’s approval, to extend the range to non-English authors, non-literary texts, or collected editions of previously unpublished materials, always provided that the proposed examples would further illuminate the course’s central focus on the growth of collected editions in the nineteenth and twentieth-century heyday of such projects and the intimate connection of that growth with the increasing significance of The Author.

2007-2008: Collections of Travels, Dictionnaires and Encyclopedias from the 15th to the 18th Century - Andreas Motsch (Department of French)

Collections of Travels, Dictionnaires and Encyclopedias from the 15th to the 18th Century
Andreas Motsch (Department of French) : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College

Early Modern Europe’s understanding of itself and the world was profoundly transformed by the process of expansion between the 15th and the 18th century, giving way to new epistemological paradigms which are reflected in various attempts to provide summaries of historical experience and collections of knowledge. It is this process of rationalization of experience, which consolidated our understanding of ourselves and laid the foundation of our modern world view, generating new discourses which found a lasting definition in the episteme of the Enlightenment.

This historical development can be analyzed by taking a close look at ideas emerging since the Renaissance and their reception throughout the centuries, ideas whose dissemination is closely tied to the invention of the printing press, the progress in literacy within society, and the development of an ever increasing demand and market for printed materials and books. Due to particular political and religious agendas (nationalism, colonialism, evangelization, censorship, etc.), but also economic considerations, the publishing history and the book trade of the time constitute a quite complex field of inquiry. Books were written in one country, often enough printed in another, only to reappear clandestinely in legitimate or pirated copies on the marketplace they were intended for, while their authors, editors and printers were censored, went into exile or even to prison. Often texts were heavily expanded and modified from one edition to the next, but also in translations between languages and political agendas. Many works found their readers far away, across political, geographical and ideological divides in copied, translated or abstracted form.

Travel literature is very important in and to this historical and discursive process. Not only does it constitute a significant amount of textual production (still all too often underestimated), but the genuinely interdisciplinary focus of literature, i.e. “letters”, and its relationship to discourses of identity and alterity, i.e., the anthropological agenda and the issue of individual and collective subjectivity, situate its study at the very centre of the episteme of modernity – and its criticism and deconstruction at the centre of postmodernity. Soon after the discovery of the Americas which almost coincides with the invention of the printing press, travel accounts to the new continent were collected, translated and published in multivolume projects. Soon the collections’ scope spanned the planet and from Hakluyt, de Bry until Prévost, the interest did not subside. The emergence of the modern worldview owes much to this historical process. As it is impossible to give a comprehensive overview of this process in one single course, I propose to identify some key issues and to trace some important examples. The body of texts will relate to “travel literature” in the widest sense and the course will priviledge a historical and epistemological perspective. By proposing a series of case studies this course will provide an introduction to a complex, dynamic and very young field of research.

2006-2007: Case Studies in the History of Reviewing - Dan White (Department of English)

Case Studies in the History of Reviewing
Dan White : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College
Winter Term, 2007; Wednesdays, 2-4 pm

In diverse ways throughout different eras, reviewing has served to mediate between, on the one hand, writers, texts, and publishers, and, on the other hand, individual readers, reading publics, and markets for cultural products. We will begin by introducing ourselves to the history of reviewing: its development as an act and then as an industry, its roles in the consolidation of literary periods and canons, its place within the conception of a European “bourgeois public sphere,” and its relation to the rise and definition of criticism. We will then turn to the Romantic period in Britain as a specific case, focusing on the struggle to define British culture manifested in the vitriolic “Cockney School” debates (at the center of which was the new, experimental poetry of John Keats and Leigh Hunt) carried out in periodicals such as The ExaminerQuarterly Review, and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Between roughly 1780 and 1830, the reviews contested the largest and most important questions of modern culture: Can literature and politics be separated? Is a coherent “Republic of Letters” possible in a nation fragmented by political, religious, and economic interests? What is criticism, and what roles should critics play? Is taste a matter of common sense, rational judgment, and universal sensibility, or does a reader’s subjectivity determine literary value? Can and should writing have qualities governed by gender, class, and their attendant hierarchies? What is the reader’s agency as a participant in or consumer of literary culture? The second half of the course will then provide you with the opportunity to apply our work to research in your own period(s) and field(s). Each of you will select a case to examine – an edition and its reception; a review and its history; an author or set of authors and the responses of a reviewer, review, or reviews – and then present a report to the class. This report will lead to a substantial work of scholarship, grounded in the history and theory of reviewing, to be submitted at the end of the course as a term paper.

2005-2006: Course not offered

2004-2005: From Print to Cybertext - Ian Lancashire (Department of English)

From Print to Cybertext
Ian Lancashire : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College

This course offers a historical, technical, and theoretical introduction to how digitally-remediated books and digitally-born e-books differ from (paper) printed books. This is not a course in e-book production. Topics include bibliographical architecture, new genres, perceived threats by Web-culture to literacy, knowledge, and publishing, and the mapping of the print-to-cybertext revolution on its speech-to-script and script-to-print antecedents.

The University of Toronto Library, on August 17, 2004, listed 307 publishers of electronic resources. These included the British Library, Broadview Press, Cambridge University Press, Columbia University, Faber and Faber, Library of Congress, MIT Press, Oxford University Press, and University of Toronto Press. The companies that facilitate online remediation of print books by many of these publishers include netLibrary,ProQuest/Chadwyck-HealeyBooks24x7, andQuestia. Conversion of older books has become such a widespread activity that the Digital Library Federation has been created simply to register such conversions. The Internet docuverse teems with e-books, converted from public-domain print editions by the Gutenberg Project and its successors (cf. Ockerbloom).

Large, reputable digital-conversion projects include Early Canadiana Online, the American e-book project sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies (2002-), and a large Mellon-sponsored project, the OUP/Penn Digital Booksproject, which studies “the impact of digital books on teaching, research, and learning.” OUP/Penn looks closely at “valued-added features, such as hypertext linkages, indexing, and book marking,” “pdf format and the Acrobat Reader,” and “Web interface design, site organization, locator tools, help, and linkages to related full text sources, such as cited references.” To what extent do these make e-books acceptable replacements for physical books? The coordinator of the five-yearOnline Books Project at Columbia Unversity in 1999 thought that “There’s not much of a place for online books at this point in time.”

Yet currently the eleventh library in the University of California system, the Digital Library, offers aneScholarship Editions collection that has “the full text of more than 1,400 books from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction.” The commercial market for e-books has also expanded this past year. eMarketer reports that “The number of e-books sold worldwide from the first quarter of 2003 increased from 228,440 to 421,955 e-book units, that is, 46%.” That statistic suggests 1.6 million e-books will be sold this year, but the total number of all books sold in the US alone last year was 2.2 billion. E-books are thus only 0.07% of the total. Clearly they do not threaten the print industry at the moment. (The Open eBook Forum: International Trade and Standards Organization for the eBook Industry gives the best ongoing information on what the private sector is doing.)

Remediated print books are one thing, but digitally-born online books are another thing, and a rarer.Clifford Lynch observed in June 2001 that the book is both “being translated rather literally into a digital representation, and … undergoing a transformative evolution into new genres of digitally-based discourse.” Among these generic transformations are interactive fiction, the blog, and digital poetry. Do they herald more changes to the print book? And can we define the print-to-cybertext phenomenon as it unfolds and define what may happen over the next generation?

This course will approach these and other questions historically, tracing in the speech-to-script and script-to-print revolutions what prompted changes in the history of the book before. Are these same factors at work today in the digitally-remediated paper book? Because we now know much more about human cognition than before, we can also ask whether digital books suit the way we process natural language cognitively, as print books so clearly do. Here theoretical work by Aarseth, Hayles, McGann, and Lancashire offer some insights.

2003-2004: Scholarly Editing – Heather Jackson (Department of English)

2002-2003: Getting into Print: Case Studies in Publishing 1860-1960 - Gillian Fenwick (Department of English)

Getting into Print: Case Studies in Publishing 1860-1960
Gillian Fenwick : Colin Friesen Room, Massey College

It is recognised these days that understanding the infrastructure of books – their genesis and evolution, books as physical objects, their modes of production, distribution and reception – is fundamental to the scholarly discussion of texts. Beginning with a study of the state of publishing in Britain towards the end of the nineteenth century, including the work of William Thackeray, Leslie Stephen and Thomas Hardy, the focus of the course will shift to twentieth century changes, innovations and problems, with case studies on James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, D.H. Lawrence and George Orwell.

Although the emphasis of the course will be on books, we shall also look at newspapers, magazines, and series publication. Depending on the particular interests of members of the class, topics may include censorship, copyright, small presses, and Canadian and American cases.

Local resources such as the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the Ontario Archives, the Massey College collections and print shop, the Metro Reference Library, the Osborne Collection, and the Pratt Library Special Collections, offer many opportunities for original research. We shall visit some of them to examine their collections and to hear talks by experts in the field. Students will be able to tailor assignments to their own research interests, and to focus on individual authors, publishers, genres and historical periods. Although not mandatory, I suggest that students aim to produce a final paper of conference or other publishable quality.

2001-2002: History of Reading – Heather Murray (Department of English)