London Rare Books School 2014

London Rare Books School 2014 will take place from June 23 - 27 (week one) and June 30 - July 4 (week two).

Each course  will consist of thirteen seminars, amounting in all to twenty hours of teaching time spread between Monday afternoon and Friday afternoon. It is therefore only possible to take one course per week.

There will be timetabled 'library time' that will allow students to explore the rich resources of the University's Senate House Library, one of the UK's major research libraries. There will also be an evening programme with an opening reception and talk, a  book history lecture, and receptions hosted by major London antiquarian booksellers.


Please be aware that the course descriptions are provisional and are subject to change. They are provided in order to give students a general indication of the structure, content and aims of the courses.

COURSES 23-27 JUNE

Children's Books, 1470-1980

Course tutor: Jill Shefrin

This course is designed to provide a holistic introduction to the study of early and modern children’s books, examining the book as physical object—both bibliographically and materially—as well as concepts of rarity and collectability, together with the history and practice of children’s book collecting, bookselling and scholarship. Case studies will focus on different historical contexts, printing technologies, book design and cross-cultural influences over 500 years.

Many children’s books are, by nature of their principal readers, scarce: children are hard on their books. Books from earlier periods, books produced for a cheap popular market and, in the twentieth century, books published under wartime conditions may be especially rare. Additionally, until the twentieth century, copyright deposit libraries did not particularly value the acquisition of books published for children.

The critical, historical and bibliographic literature on children’s books is complicated by having been written for varied audiences. Children’s books have traditionally been of interest to children’s librarians and primary schoolteachers on the one hand, and, on the other, to antiquarian collectors, booksellers and librarians of special collections primarily concerned with bibliography and in the history of publishing and illustration. In recent years, bibliographical, critical and historical research have all exploded, supported in part by academic interest in the history of the book and the study of children’s literature. Academics in a range of disciplines—particularly English literature—have entered the field. But collectors and scholars have been studying the history of children’s books since the nineteenth century.

Students will have the opportunity to see and handle early material in some of London’s rare book collections and to understand how bibliography serves as a tool of description and communication between the worlds of collectors, booksellers, curators and scholars. They should acquire a sufficient sense of the current state of bibliographical and historical research in the field to enable them to pursue their own professional or personal interests.

Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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European Bookbinding, 1450-1820

Course tutor: Professor Nicholas Pickwoad

The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course. The development of binding decoration will be touched on, but will not form a major part of the discussion.

Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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A History of Maps and Mapping

NB: This course is fully booked.

Course Organisers: Dr Catherine Delano-Smith,  Sarah Tyacke CB.

The aim in this course is to draw attention to some of the challenges facing the student of map history given the longevity and ubiquity of the mapping idea, from prehistory to the present, and the variety of format, function and context of maps at any one time. Sessions are designed to explore the fundamental principles of map history to provide a framework in which the details of any map from any period can be accommodated. Stress is laid on the relationship between word and image, and the role of maps in books, as a counterbalance to the traditional way of viewing maps in isolation. The key tenet remains, however, that of the indivisibility of maps as image, artefact and messenger.

Provisional Course Outline / Outcomes for Students

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The History of Readers and Reading, 1770-2010

Course tutor: Dr Shafquat Towheed

This course explores the nature of reading as it emerged in the late eighteenth century in the western world, and developed in the context of an industrial and then an advanced industrial society. The course will be a combination of two types of seminar.  Firstly there will be ‘narrative’ sessions that will explain the ways in which the major aspects of the subject developed over time. Secondly there will be ‘case studies’ that will allow students to explore particular examples of these developments. In addition, the case studies will introduce students to a variety of research resources and methods used by historians of reading.

Provisional Course Outline & Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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An Introduction to Bibliography

NB: This course is fully booked.

Course tutor: Professor Anthony Edwards (University of Kent)

This course aims to give students an introduction to the various elements of bibliography and to set those elements within their appropriate historical and methodological contexts. It will examine the different forms of the book from manuscript through its development in its various printed forms and introduce students to the forms of bibliographical enquiry and their associated terminology and implications.

Provisional Course Outline / Reading List / Outcomes for Students

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The Medieval Book

NB: This course is fully booked.

Course tutor: Professor Michelle P. Brown

This course will provide an intensive introduction to manuscript culture during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The historical contexts for manuscript production will be explored and the landscape populated with some of those who commissioned and made these remarkable works. Techniques of production, terminology and methods of description and cataloguing will be examined and a brief survey of palaeography and codicology will be provided. Styles and principal trends will be studied, with the aid of digital images, slides, facsimiles and primary sources (with valuable opportunities to examine manuscripts at the British Library, the V&A and Senate House Library). The Course Tutor and additional lecturers are all acknowledged experts in their fields and will share their experience and perspectives as scholars and curators.

Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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The Printed Book in Europe, 1450-2000

Course tutor: Professor John Feather

This is an introductory course for which there are no pre-requisites other than those needed for admission to the LRBS. It is suitable for anyone with an interest in the history of books, including historians, literary scholars, librarians, collectors and antiquarian booksellers. No prior knowledge will be assumed, other than through the pre-course reading which will be selected from the Recommended Reading list.

Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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COURSES 30 JUNE - 4 JULY 2014

The Book in the Ancient World

Course tutors: Dr Matthew Nicholls, Dr Marigold Norbye, Dr. Kathryn E. Piquette, Dr Eleanor Robson and Mr Alan Cole, Curator of the Museum of Writing

The course is an intensive survey of the origins of, and the changes in, textual culture that took place between c. 2500 BC and 400 AD. It will set these changes into their related historical contexts and place considerable emphasis on the material nature of writing and book construction. This will involve extensive use of materials from the Museum of Writing (Curator: Mr Alan Cole) currently housed in the Senate House Library. In addition to handling and using original artefacts, students will have the opportunity to experiment with writing on clay tablets, on papyrus, and on wax tablets using modern reconstructions under the guidance of Alan Cole who will provide practical sessions during some of the seminars (these are asterisked). The course will end by looking at the ways in which the modern book form (the codex) emerged at the end of the period, and how some of the ancient texts studied in the course survived through the post-classical manuscript periods to the age of printing.

Provisional Course Outline / Outcomes for Students / Reading List

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The Early Modern Book in England

NB: This course is fully booked.

Course tutors: Dr Arnold Hunt (British Library) and Mr Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library)

This course will explore themes in the history of the production, distribution and consumption of printed books in early modern England , offering in particular an opportunity to look in detail at books as historical artefacts and to discuss a range of contemporary documentary sources.

Provisional Course Outline / Outcomes for Students

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The History and Practice of Hand Press Printing

Course tutors: Dr Claire Bolton, Richard Lawrence

A five-day historical and practical course which will explain the various processes involved in the production of a printed page from making punches, creating moulds and casting type, through type setting and imposition, to inking and printing. The course will be a mixture of history-based and practical seminars; all students will be given the opportunity to work on iron hand presses of the nineteenth century. At a later stage in the course students will have the opportunity to work in pairs on their own small-scale projects. The course is suitable for bibliographers, librarians, art-historians, collectors, museum curators, print enthusiasts, and literary and cultural historians, as well as bibliophiles.

Provisional Course Outline / Outcomes for Students

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Modern First Editions: Dealing, Collecting, and the Market

Course tutors: Laurence Worms (Ash Rare Books) and Angus O'Neill (Omega Bookshop)

Additional lectures: David Chambers, Carl Williams

A practical course intended to explore and examine the present-day market in literary first editions of relatively ‘modern’ vintage – the era commencing approximately from the demise of the three-volume novel in the 1890s. There will be reflection on the history, problems and problematic nature of this market, but the course will range across all areas and provide a thorough grounding and background for collectors, booksellers, librarians, academics and others, who (either professionally or privately) engage or seek to engage with ‘modern firsts’, and require a more detailed insight into the assumptions, nuances, rationale and operation of this market.

The course will be taught by a panel of highly experienced booksellers, who will bring not just skill and expertise, but a lifetime of reflection on their chosen field.

Provisional Course Outline

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NEW COURSE The Printed Book in the East: China, India, and Japan

Course tutors: Professor Peter Kornicki (Cambridge), Dr Joe McDermott (Cambridge), Mr Graham Shaw (British Library, ret.), Dr Frances Wood (British Library, ret.)

The Printed Book in the East covers the invention of paper in the 2nd century BC through the rise of a global literary marketplace at the end of the 20th century. Focusing on China, India, Japan, and Korea the course offers a general survey of printing history in ‘the East’, charting the invention of printing technologies and their spread to other parts of East and South Asia and, eventually, Europe. Topics include: woodblock printing, moveable type, missionary printing, and special seminars on the book in Edo and Meiji Japan, printing and literary culture in late Imperial China, and the book and empire in India. A general survey, this course is intended as a complement to The Printed Book in Europe, offering participants a more globally informed perspective on the history of the printed book.

Reading List

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Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600: Palaeography, Codicology, and Contextualisation

Course tutor: Professor Michelle P. Brown

This course will provide an overview of the historical and stylistic development of scripts, from Antiquity to 1600, with accompanying discussion of codicological and art historical features. It will introduce students to the terminology and bibliography of manuscript studies and will focus upon practical transcription / decipherment and dating / localisation skills. Latin will be the focus, but the western vernaculars will also be discussed. The course will be under Professor Brown's direction and taught primarily by her, with some other expert contributions in conjunction with repository visits.

Course Outline / Outcomes for Students

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