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ENGL-375 History of the Book

In this course we will study the book as a material object, a concrete text that is produced, sold, circulated and read. More broadly, we will address the wider social and political pressures that have shaped book production, as well as the social and political consequences of producing books and other media. We will first examine manuscripts and manuscript culture through a consideration of the New Testament's publication history. We will then shift our attention to the medium of print. As a class, we will study the wider implications of the invention of the printing press. What effect, for instance, did printing have upon literacy, the rise of natural science, the transformation of religion, and the twin concepts of authorship and literary property (copyright)? How did censorship constrain what writers, printers and booksellers were able to publish? Finally, we will study the Internet as an engine of change. In many scholars' estimation the Internet will have a more profound impact upon society than did the printing press. We will try to gauge this impact and to appraise the ways in which hypertext is changing literature, journalism and what's more, how we read and write. 4 SH.