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The Book

The Book

This course will look at how books were made in the early modern period and how as an artefact they tell us far more about themselves than can be found simply by reading them. The seven classes are likely to include topics such as:

  • 'Introduction to the History of the Book'
  • 'Manuscripts and Early Modern Culture'
  • 'Printing in the Hand Press Era'
  • 'Descriptive Bibliography'
  • 'Early Modern Bookbindings'
  • 'The History of Libraries'
  • 'The Book Trade'.

The module will be taught in a series of weekly classes of ninety minutes, led by the convenor and with a number of invited speakers or demonstrators. There will be opportunities to see how books were printed and to study techniques of book-binding, as well as to consider topics such as the transition from manuscript to print, the histories of libraries and the early modern book trade, and the history of reading practices. Those taking the course will learn how to make an accurate, bibliographical description of an early modern printed book.

It is expected that senior officers in the University Library and other Cambridge Libraries will be involved in teaching this module, and that those taking the module will have an opportunity to visit a number of College libraries.
Assessment will be by an essay on some aspect of the course (to be submitted by Friday 1 December) and by evidence of satisfactory attendance.


(a) General Reading List: Bibliography and Textual Criticism
*Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford, 1972)
Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment (Cambridge, Mass., 1979)
Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book, trans. D. Gerard (London, 1976)
Henri-Jean Martin, The History and Power of Writing, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago, 1994)
D.F. McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, new edition (Cambridge, 1999)
(b) General Reading List: The Book and Cambridge
E.S. Leedham-Green (ed.), Books in Cambridge Inventories, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1986)
David McKitterick, A History of Cambridge University Press, 3 vols to date (Cambridge, 1992-2004)
J.C.T. Oates and David McKitterick, A History of Cambridge University Library, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1986)