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History of the World in 25 Books: History of the Book

WFU Lifelong Learning, Summer 2016

History of the Book as a Field of Study

Book History (sometimes called History of Print Culture or History of Material Texts) combines history, literary studies, and bibliography. Historian Robert Darnton described it as an attempt “to understand how ideas were transmitted by print and how exposure to the printed word affected the thought and behavior of mankind during the last five hundred years” (What Is the History of Books?, 1982).

The course begins with the premise that we can approach printed texts as objects of study in three major ways: 1) as material objects with artifactual value, 2) as vehicles for text, and 3) as social constructs and agents of social change. We will learn to examine books as physical objects and to understand the processes by which they were created, and we'll consider the role of books in the societies that produced them and the ways in which print conveys and shapes texts.


Journals and Journal Articles

Internet Resources