Compulsory Module 

MA students are required to complete the taught and written assessment portion of the module. MRes students are required to complete the taught portion of the module.

Research Methodologies and Resources in the History of the Book

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

This course will introduce students to a range of research methodologies used in the study of the history of the book and familiarise them with some of the resources available for the subject. It will also work to develop writing and referencing skills and the handling of research data. Topics to be covered will include: theoretical models for the history of the book; locating and using manuscript, print and digital resources; digital approaches to research and its presentation; practical work in the history of printing; using book trade archives; understanding copyright.

Structure

Four intensive study days, taught on Saturdays (two in autumn term, two in spring term). 

Assessment

Two 2500-word pieces of written coursework, due in January and April. 

 

Core Modules 

MA students are required to complete two of the three core modules.

The Medieval Book

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

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 in major London collections). 

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays during autumn term.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework.

The Book in Early Modern England

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

This module will explore the transformation of the scope, scale, and speed of print production in the early handpress period, from the introduction of the printing press in the fifteenth century through the introduction of the copyright acts of the eighteenth century. Focusing in particular, but not exclusively, on Britain, the module will address not only processes and products, but also the problems of distribution raised by the increasingly mass-manufacture of printed materials, and by the changing nature of the ways in which these materials were read and stored. Most importantly, the material nature of the book will be emphasised, and its changing impact on society and culture will be explored in terms of this materiality.

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays during spring term.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework.

The Book in the Industrial Age

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

This module will explore the transformation in terms of the scope, scale, and speed of print production from the copyright acts of the eighteenth century to the emergence of the digital book. Focusing in particular, but not exclusively, on Britain, the module will address not only processes and products, but also the problems of distribution raised by the mass-manufacture of printed materials, and by the changing nature of the ways in which these materials were read and stored. Most importantly of all, the material nature of the book will be emphasised, and its changing impact on society and culture will be explored in terms of this materiality. 

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays during spring term.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework. 

 

Option Modules

Not all option courses run in a given year. The Institute reserves the right to take modules out of circulation, or to introduce new ones.

The Book in the Ancient World

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

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 Research Collection (Honorary Consultant: 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. 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. 

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework.

The Printed Book in the East

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

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: wood- block 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. 

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework.

Digital Scholarly Editing

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

This course surveys the fundamentals of literary editing as well as the technological skills required for producing digital editions. It aims to provide an understanding of editorial theory and practice, including the study of manuscripts, the theory of copy text editing, and the decisions relating to textual and contextual apparatus that inform the design of an edition. Students will focus on encoding documents in XML using the standards of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), and the process by which XML documents become digital editions. Students will also learn about HTML markup, CSS, alternative markup languages (such as LMNL), XSLT (for processing XML documents), and how to incorporate digital facsimiles into editions. No prior experience with programming is required.

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework or a project agreed with the instructor.

Provenance

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

This course is primarily a training ground to give students a personal toolkit to identify and interpret the various kinds of provenance evidence found in books before 1900.  Interest in historical book ownership and what we can learn from individual copies and whole libraries has been steadily growing in recent years, among librarians, scholars and collectors, and more effort is being put into recording it in catalogues.  The course will cover different manifestations of provenance – inscriptions, bookplates and book labels, armorials and other evidence from bindings – and include practical sessions on palaeography and reference sources.  Teaching will be supplemented with exercises and opportunities to see examples drawn from the Senate House collections.  Although the focus will be on practical and factual learning to take away, some time will be devoted to the theoretical and interpretative book historical context within which provenance evidence is of value.

Structure

Ten two-hour seminars, taught on Wednesdays.

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework.

 

Internship 

Book Trade Internship

[20 CATS-M Credits]

Aims and Objectives

Internships take place during the summer term and require 200 hours of in-office contact time, in addition to an essay and three in-class days (if taking the internship for assessment). The internships offer a key opportunity for students to experience life in a bookselling firm, to undertake projects for the company (everything from stocktaking to cataloguing to running a book stall at a fair), and to make connections in the book trade. Students should indicate their interest in the internship programme to the Court Tutor by early January. 

Structure

200 hours of supervised work experience. 

Assessment

One 5000-word piece of written coursework or a project agreed with the Course Tutor. 

In practice, the assessment often takes the form of a catalogue produced during the student's time at the bookselling firm, plus an essay reflecting on the student's experience.

 

London Rare Books School

Subject to the approval of the Course Tutor, students have the opportunity to substitute one of their option modules for a course on the London Rare Books School. Course descriptions for LRBS courses are here. Not all courses run each year.