London - with its long history of book production, its role as one of the world’s major publishing centres, its famous libraries, museums, archives, and antiquarian bookshops - is the ideal place in which to study the history of the book. And the London Rare Books School (LRBS) is one of the world’s leading institutions in this field. In June and July 2016 London Rare Books Schools once again offers a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects to be taught in and around Senate House which is the centre of the University of London's federal system.
The courses are taught by internationally renowned scholars, including the ILAB affiliates and ABA members Angus O’Neill and Laurence Worms, using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Senate House Libraries, and many more. Each course consists of thirteen seminars amounting in all to twenty hours of teaching time spread between Monday lunchtime and Friday afternoon. In small groups of no more than 12 participants, the students have plenty of opportunity to talk to the teachers and to get very close to the books. All courses stress the materiality of the book, so students will have close encounters with remarkable books and manuscripts and other artefacts from some of the world's greatest collections. There will also be timetabled 'library time' that will allow students to explore the rich resources of the University's Senate House Library, one of the UK's major research libraries.
London Rare Books School 2016 will take place from 20 - 24 June (week one) and 27 June - 1 July (week two). So far, the following course are scheduled:
WEEK ONE: 20 - 24 JUNE 2016
The Book in the Ancient World
Dr Matthew Nicholls, Dr Marigold Norbye, Dr. Kathryn E. Piquette, Dr Eleanor Robson and Mr Alan Cole, Curator of the Museum of Writing
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 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.
The Book in Early Modern England
Dr Arnold Hunt (Cambridge University) and Mr Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library)
This course will explore themes in the history of the production, distribution and consumption of printed books in early modern England, offering in particular an opportunity to look in detail at books as historical artefacts and to discuss a range of contemporary documentary sources.
Children's Books, 1470-1980
Jill Shefrin, Brian Alderson, Jean Hedger
A holistic introduction to the study of children’s books, examining the book as a physical object with a focus on rarity. Children are hard on their books, many of which survive only a single generation. Additionally, until the last century, copyright deposit libraries did not especially value the acquisition of books published for children, while books from earlier periods, produced for a cheap popular market or published under wartime conditions may be especially scarce. Examining a range of early and modern rare children’s books through the lenses of publishing, authorship, illustration, design, printing and reception, this course addresses the following: What constitutes a children’s book? For how many centuries have children’s books been published and marketed? How has their evolution been affected by factors such as religious and educational ideas and practices or cultural norms in a given period? Who has written, purchased or read them?
Collectors, Collections, and Collecting
Dr Cynthia Johnston (IES), Dr Karen Attar (Senate House Library)
A chronological examination of collecting manuscripts and books in Britain. Beginning with perhaps the UK’s most prolific and influential collectors, Sir Robert Cotton and Archbishop Matthew Parker, the course will examine the personal and socio-cultural impetus behind the process of collecting, as well as the content of the collections themselves. Moving on from the sixteenth century collections of Cotton and Parker, the seventeenth century Library of Sir Hans Sloane will be examined, and the eighteenth century collection of Sir William Boothby. For the nineteenth century, the influence of John Ruskin will be discussed with particular attention paid to the collections amassed during the Industrial Revolution in the North West of England. The collections of Senate House Library will be examined in the light of this cultural heritage. Visits to major collections will be arranged.
A History of Maps and Mapping
Dr Catherine Delano-Smith, Sarah Tyacke CB.
The aim in this course is to draw attention to some of the challenges facing the student of map history given the longevity and ubiquity of the mapping idea, from prehistory to the present, and the variety of format, function and context of maps at any one time. Sessions are designed to explore the fundamental principles of map history to provide a framework in which the details of any map from any period can be accommodated. Stress is laid on the relationship between word and image, and the role of maps in books, as a counterbalance to the traditional way of viewing maps in isolation.
An Introduction to Bibliography
An introduction to the various elements of bibliography and to set those elements within their appropriate historical and methodological contexts. The course will examine the different forms of the book from manuscript through its development in its various printed forms and introduce students to the forms of bibliographical enquiry and their associated terminology and implications.
The Material History of the English Novel, 1800-1914
Professor Simon Eliot (IES)
The course aims to set some well-known and thoroughly-studied English novels in a significantly new context. The novels to be studied are: Northanger Abbey, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, Dracula, and Howard's End. None of these novels was written for readers in the twenty-first century so, in order to move students away from the Whigish view adopted in many English departments, we need to understand how contemporaries might have read these books. This requires that students understand not only the broad historical context, but also significant details of the material environment in which those first readers lived, and the ways in which books and newspapers were produced, delivered - and read in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The Medieval Book
Professor Michelle P. Brown
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 at the British Library, the V&A and Senate House Library).
WEEK TWO: 27 JUNE - 1 JULY 2016
The Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian Book
Professor Michelle Brown (IES), Professor Jane Roberts (IES)
An intensive introduction to manuscript culture during the early Middle Ages, with specific reference to post-Roman Britain and Ireland , Merovingian Gaul, the Carolingian Empire and Anglo-Saxon England. The preservation and transmission of sources from Antiquity and the creation of literate Christian cultures will be examined and the historical contexts for manuscript production explored. Particular attention will be paid to wider literacy-related issues and to the development of palaeography, codicology and illumination.
Communicating with the Public in the Second World War: The Ministry of Information, 1939-46
Dr Henry Irving
This course focuses on the communication activities of the British Ministry of Information (MOI) during the Second Word War. It will explore the methods used by the MOI to communicate information to the domestic population of the UK; to present Britain’s case to those in allied and neutral countries; to provide the government with accurate reports of public opinion; and to operate a system of censorship. The course will pay particular attention to the publishing of books and pamphlets; the distribution of posters and the circulation of displays, lectures and exhibitions; and the commissioning of broadcasts and films. It will demonstrate that the MOI was a nodal point within a dense network of communications which involved, among others, various government ministries, the BBC, Mass Observation, and Fleet Street.
European Bookbinding, 1450-1820
Professor Nicholas Pickwoad
The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course.
The History of Book Illustration & Its Techniques
Dr Rowan Watson and Elizabeth James. Some classes will be taken by invited experts.
An introduction to the history of book illustration, an insufficiently exploited resource for the graphic arts and a major means of communication. The approach adopted emphasises the significant part played in the field by developments in printing and in printmaking technology. Recent years have seen new perspectives in what is often called "illustration studies"; there are now new descriptive tools and terms of reference. Students will have the opportunity of seeing certain methods demonstrated and will be able to work towards an understanding and recognition of some of the processes which will be examined.
An Introduction to the Modern Rare Book Trade
Angus O'Neill (Omega Bookshop) and Laurence Worms (Ash Rare Books)
The aim of the course is to explore in a broad way the huge contemporary market in rare and collectable books – in particular (but not exclusively) the market in literary first editions and manuscripts of relatively ‘modern’ vintage – the English-language literature of the last 200 years. There will be discussion of the basic tenets and intellectual purposes of collecting, the interplay between academic research interests and market forces, the gauging of rarity and the calculation of value, the ‘rules’ of the game, and an overview of the current workings, structure, weaknesses and strengths of the rare book trade in the twenty-first century. Taught entirely by experienced practitioners, the course is intended to provide a thorough grounding and background for librarians, academics, collectors, booksellers and others, who (either professionally or privately) need to engage with this market, and require a more detailed insight into the nuances and subtleties of the field.
Provenance in Books
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.
Organized by the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. The application form is available from the Institute of English Studies website. Please visit the official website for more information.
Seminars on book collecting are held worldwide. Please visit the ILAB calendar of events to find more book-related lectures, conferences and workshops.