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Cultures of the Book

ENGL 034.401
instructor(s):
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In this course, we will be working closely with rare books and manuscripts both at Penn and at other Philadelphia libraries to explore the following questions:

  1. What is a book? We will look at the relation between the material form of the book and alternative textual technologies (including scrolls and ebooks) and we will also explore the emergence and development of the printed book
  2. What is a letter? We will look at the history of letter-writing from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, examining the distinctive material features of letters and their crucial role in private and public life
  3. Why is “ephemera” so central to printing? We will examine a wide variety of non-book printing from indulgences and proclamations to almanacs and customs declaration forms
  4. What is the relation between text and image in ballads and books?

Texts for the course will include the Quartos and the First Folio of Shakespeare; the Bible; selected letters; and selected ballads