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Cultures of the Book: Practices, Materials, Places

ENGL 034.401
crosslisted as: HIST 034
M 2-5:00

This course focuses upon the making, remaking, dissemination, and reading of texts in early modern Europe and America. Under the heading of “practices,” we will consider how readers read and marked up their books, forms of note-taking, and the interrelation between reading and writing from copying and translating to composing new texts. Under the heading of “materials,” we will examine the relations between different kinds of writing surfaces (including stone, wax, parchment, paper, walls, textiles, the body, and the heart), writing implements (including styluses, pens, pencils, needles, and brushes), and material forms (including scrolls, erasable tables, codices, broadsides and printed forms and books). Under the heading of “places,” we will explore where texts were made, read, and listened to, including monasteries, schools and universities, offices of the state, the shops of merchants and booksellers, printing houses, theaters, libraries, studies, and closets. The texts for the course will include the Bible, translations of Ovid, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Montaigne’s essays, Pepys’s diary, Richardson’s Pamela, and Franklin’s autobiography.