Archive for August, 2014


Rare Book School Day 5

   Posted by: rring    in book history

IMG_2920From “Lower Tibet” (the floor underneath RBS where its collections and other things are kept), to the top of Special Collections (a bit of Michael is visible here, ascending the stairwell) we roamed and ruminated!

After the morning gathering (donuts today) of all 5 classes, we split off for ours into Lower Tibet to examine a teaching collection RBS has assembled over the years of artifacts. This included binding leathers, parchment samples, packets of various sorts of ephemera (for teaching typography, illustration methods, paper, etc.), plates of steel and copper, a lithography stone, electrotype and stereotype plates, and many other items. A booklet sourcing a bunch of this material was given to us, and will be of great use to me in building such a collection at Trinity (we already have a huge head start).

IMG_2921In the afternoon we discussed The Peddlar Lady of Gushing Cross, an “animated book” by Moving Tales, which published it, as well as the WordPlay Shakespeare (an “enhanced e-book” by the New Book Press. We had a rather animated (so to speak) discussion about what was a book, and the concept of “loss and gain” when it comes to the ways in which the culture “chooses” to go in one direction or another (like, say, to embrace the novel, or the e-book, or the online newspaper). It generated a lot of potential in terms of how to inform my own class discussions.

During lunch, I am proud to say, we gave the first “class gift” during Michael’s 5-year tenure (we will be listed as “H-90 2014” under the “Very Good Friend” strata of giving next year). This was an idea of mine to give a little to RBS as a class, and to challenge other classes to do the same! Michael thanked us nicely in his closing remarks, and it only increased the sense of community we shared (and perhaps it helped to spur the very long lines for RBS merchandise). Time to pack up and drive back to Hartford!


Rare Book School Day 4

   Posted by: rring    in book history

IMG_2914Shown here is a snapshot of my little area and a few things we discussed today–of particular interest is the plastic “tackle box” full of samples of type, leading, linotype, wood type, ornaments, a monotype sheet, and other THINGS related to printing history. To construct a kit like this for students is fairly easy, and I plan to put at least two kits together for the Watkinson this fall.

We have spent a fair amount of time throughout our discussions moving back and forth, as it were, between what constitutes (or should) our most global pedagogical goals in terms of book history, and the ways in which we can effect those goals “on the ground.” How we teach, and what we teach, and our imagined outcomes, will of course depend on many factors.

It is the (good) goal of the course  to provide, say, a member of the faculty teaching early modern European intellectual history on the one hand, and a library staffer who must present a one-off session to an English literature class on the other, a set of approaches and resources to employ with sufficient flexibility to meet most goals, and to, as effectively as possible given those goals, answer the questions, “what do we see?” [and therefore] “what do we know?” [and therefore] “now that we know this, what can we say?”IMG_2915

The week has been fairly intense, but RBS is always fun BECAUSE of this intensity. If you bring 100+ book folk, who are all highly intelligent and very quirky in their own ways,  together in an enclosed space for any amount of time, lots of great things happen. As it is the last week of this RBS session, the staff is getting a little wild around the eyes–hence the need for comic relief, provided here my Michael as he attempts to “wrangle” a library “snake.”

Much of today was a rapid-fire list of books, articles, etc. to use for various purposes that were not in our online “workbook,” and a discussion of the merits of each of them took some time. Then we were in special collections to look and talk about more potential pairings of material, which can happen virtually as well as physically (for those without the luxury of large collections).IMG_2919 I am happy to say that the Watkinson lacks nothing in terms of its ability to support any sort of book history teaching that Trinity will ever likely need or want to do–at least in terms of the West, from the 12th century to the present!