Masters Courses

"Bookman" by  Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593)MA/MRes in the History of the Book

Our MA/MRes in the History of the Book provides an unrivalled base for the study of a subject that has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention over the past 30 years. Originally considering mainly physical aspects of the book and the details of its manufacture and trade, scholars have come to see the study of the book as an aid to understanding literary texts and as a focus for insight into social, cultural and intellectual processes in history. The history of the book is thus a subject which encompasses the history of literate western culture. Its focus includes not only books, but also newspapers, magazines, chapbooks and broadsides. Because the book did not begin with the invention of printing, the course will also consider the manuscript period before print.

The book is an object. One way to study it, therefore, is to study its physical attributes. We can ask what form the book takes in different periods, and how that form develops over time. Because it is a man made object, we can also investigate the processes by which it is made. By considering conditions of manufacture, we are lead not only into discussion of the book as physical object, but also the social, economic and cultural relations entailed in a book's production. The book is a centre of the network of authors, suppliers, producers, distributors and consumers. It exists in a context of social factors, which inevitably influence its production and distribution.

Our interdisciplinary programmes aim to provide a stimulating range of courses in this new but rapidly growing subject. Over the last 30 years the study of the history of the book has moved towards considering the dynamics of the interaction of the book and society, looking both at the effects  society had on the book, and the way the book has influenced cultural and intellectual change.

The opportunities provided for the study of the History of the Book in London under the aegis of the School of Advanced Study and with the participation of so many of London's major institutions are without parallel. By bringing together the expertise which exists in the University of London and the staff of The British Library, the British Museum, The Public Record Office, Lambeth Palace Library, St Bride Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the University of Reading and Stationers' Hall, students will enjoy benefits difficult to achieve anywhere else.

Courses on the MA/MRes can be interchanged with courses from the London Rare Books School.