History of the Book (HIS4109.01)

Carol Pal

The aim of this course is to think about books. Not just books as objects, but books as the signifiers of a wealth of relationships – between reading and writing, between people and ideas, between people and people, between technologies and desires. For centuries, our ideas have been shaped by the rhythms and hierarchies inherent in the nature of print. But the nature of the book itself has changed enormously over time – from the painstaking creation of ancient papyri and codices to Gutenberg and the fifteenth-century printing revolution. Moreover, as these technologies have changed, so have their associated phenomena of authorship, authority, and reading itself. And now, as blogs, wikis, and Google shift the discourse from page to screen, old definitions and relations are undergoing yet another series of unimagined changes. The roles of author and reader are morphing and blurring. But is this revolution truly new? We look at books and book culture from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day, investigating the nature and significance of these objects, their content, and the relationships they embody.

Prerequisites: One course in History and/or course in Literature, along with permission of the instructor. Please email cpal@bennington.edu by May 13 to express interest.
Credits: 4
W 2:10-5:50
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years
This course is categorized as History, All courses, and tagged , , , , , .