Making Books, Shaping Readers – Seminar Course Outline (Based on a twelve-week seminar structure, with two classes per week)

Weeks 1-3: Medieval Books: Texts and Contexts (C. Griffin)

  • Week One: Introduction to Codicology & Palaeography

    Handling of manuscripts; binding and construction; handwriting and transcribing. Theories of reading and processes and ways of writing.

  • Week Two: Texts and their Contexts

    Genres of texts and manuscript; features of texts in manuscript form (prologues, incipits and explicits, dedications, authority, envoys, visuals and decorations, glosses and marginalia, ordinatio); book owners and sellers.

  • Week Three: Transmission and Dissemination, Reception

    Exemplars, copying, notion of scribe as author; literary theory; from manuscript to print; implications of context for a text.

Weeks 4-6: Manuscripts and Print: Early Modern England (S. Collins)

  • Week Four: Introduction to the Politics of Writing and Publishing Early Modern Texts

    Manuscript publication in the sixteenth century following the invention of the printing press; Patronage; Censorship; Notions of language. Notions of authorship.

  • Week Five: The Impact of Print

    The influence of printing on the Protestant Reformation and on interiority. The rise in pamphlet wars as an effect of print, and their construction of gender.

  • Week Six: Early Modern Printed Books

    The stigma of print; EEBO as an educational tool to introduce the early printed book; How the early printed books modelled themselves on manuscripts; Paratextual details such as prefaces, and how they enact the tension between new commercial structures and the earlier patronage system.

Weeks 7-9: The Rise of the Marketplace (M. O’Connell)

  • Week Seven: Eighteenth Century Book Trade

    Advances in book production, London centred trade, changing notions of the bookseller, Beginnings of the commercially successful celebrity author (Laurence Sterne). Practical implications of the changes in Copyright law, books as ‘property’.

  • Week Eight: Rise of the marketplace and rise of the publisher

    Rise of periodical literature (reviews, magazines) – effect on public taste. Advertising books, Price of books, binding, illustrations, division of labour in book production – arrival of the publisher. 

  • Week Nine: Commercial Texts and a consumer society

    Effect the increasingly commercial society had on the Romantic artist – notion of the reader as consumer of texts, the author as producer, problems of ‘writing for money’, rise of the professional writer. 

Weeks 10-12: Electronic Books and Reading (Ó. Murphy)

Órla Murphy will take the course to the next level by illustrating the impact of the internet and digital technology on understanding and interpreting texts and hypertexts.

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