Advanced Document Design LogoHistory of the Book in Theory and Practice

Course Goals | Required Texts and Technologies | Projects Policies

The History of the Book in Theory and Practice is co-taught by Dr. Emily C. Friedman and Dr. Derek G. Ross, Auburn University Department of English.
Class Plan (Subject to Change)

Class Week


Readings and Class Plan (Readings to be completed before class)

Assignment Due

8 - 17

Introduction and overview

Introduction, syllabus walkthrough, paper folding

Abbreviated syllabus booklet 

8 - 19

Traditional Technologies and their Impact (ECF)

Hamlet's Blackberry (PDF)

Discuss Commonplace Book assignment

For Discussion (if time):

Does the medium matter? 


8 - 24

Production Practices and Their Impact (DGR)

Schriver 13 - 149

Production practices and their impact

8 - 26

Special Collections Field Trip

Book in Society pp. 21 - 114

8 - 31

Typography (ECF & DGR)

Schriver 249 - 301

Gaskel 9 -39

The Making of a Renaissance Book (Video, in class)

9 - 2

Bibliographic Description (ECF & DGR)

Discuss Assignment 1, Bibliographic Description

Ballanger video (in class)

Gaskell 1 - 185 (This is a lot of reading, but these sections all work together to give you a valuable overview of bibliography. Give yourself plenty of time.

9 - 9

Special Collections Field Trip

Please make sure to bring your class handouts and Gaskell with you to Special Collections.  
9 - 14

Copyright (ECF & DGR)

Book in Society 115 - 142

Book in Society 177 - 209

For discussion (if time):

Salman Rushdie on Charlie Hebdo

9 - 16

Audience (History and Practice) (ECF)

Book in Society 313 - 340

The Reading Experience Database


9 - 21

Audience (Analysis) (DGR)

Schriver 151 - 203

Turn in Bibliographic Description
9 - 23


Midterm Exam

9 - 28

Choice of Copy (ECF)

PDF from Textual Editing

9 - 30

Document Design Basics (DGR)

Schriver 249 - 358

Virtual Lab Tools:

Direct Web Connection (

Download (

10 - 5

The work of an editor/Staying true to authorial and textual intent (ECF & DGR)

Book in Society 145 - 175, 211 - 241

Discuss transcription, choice of copy, editorial decisionmaking

10 - 7

Special Collections Fieldtrip

Workshop: Choosing a base text

Choose 2 - 3 options

10 - 12

Workshop: Document Design

InDesign Tutorial Day 1 (the basics of Indesign)

Turn in Audience Analysis

10 - 14

Workshop proposal Poster

InDesign Poster Workshop

On your own time, watch/follow along with Adobe's "Design an eye-catching conference poster" video. Come to class with the beginnings of a poster that you can then work on over the course of the class.

10 - 19

Proposal poster presentations, form groups


You will need to print your poster at the DRL.

MEET IN 3184/94

10 - 21



10 - 26



10 - 28

Tracking changes (ECF & DGR)

Gaskell 311 - 358

11 - 2

Letterpress, paper and type (Josef Beery)

Meet in 3184/3194

11 - 4


Briish Library Rights-Free Images 

11 - 9



Rough working draft of project due in class

11 - 11



Rough working draft of project due in class

11 - 16

Revision workshop


11 - 18

Revision workshop


11 - 30

Final Critique

This is it, the last in-class day. We'll review the class, discuss what we've learned, then take time to answer any questions/make final revisions on your project as needed.

12 - 2

Presentations, final copy of your edited edition due in class

Class presentation day. Meet in Library Auditorium (lower floor, near special collections).



Reflective Report due on Thursday, December 10, 12:00 noon. Please feel free to turn in your work early, if you so choose.


Course Goals

In the mid-fifteenth century, Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg developed technology which allowed print production to move from block-press technology to movable type. When he ultimately went bankrupt and sold off his equipment to pay off his debts, other entrepreneurs began to open shops to facilitate the mass-production of texts. As a result, five trades came to prominence: printing, publishing, editing, bookselling, and typefounding. These trades constitute the basic elements of today’s production and design economy—professional writers, editors, and document designers, along with modern publishing houses and the surrounding industry, owe a large part of their existence to the development on modern design and printing practices, and an understanding of these practices can shed light on much of our modern production economy. In this class we will explore how the history and production of the book (and associated publications) shapes today’s practices. In doing so we will consider the impact of changing technologies on print production, how audiences influenced (and continue to influence) print production, changing document design practices, and the work of the editor in moving from source material to various print editions. This course will culminate with you showing what you have learned by having you create your own printed book edition from source material located in Auburn’s own rare book collection.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

Show an understanding of developmental change in print history

Demonstrate an understanding of basic bibliographic principles

Demonstrate an understanding of workflow and process of group-based production practices

Apply and discuss basic theories and practices of design

Apply and discuss basic theories and practices of editing and content management

Understand and apply principles of textual criticism

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Required Texts and Technologies

Gaskell, P. (1995). A new introduction to bibliography. New Castle, DE: St. Paul’s Bibliographies.

Schriver, K. (1997). Dynamics in document design. New York: NY, John Wiley & Sons.

Robinson, S. (2014). The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture. Ontario: Broadview Press.

Relevant academic articles.


ON FORMATTING: All writings in this class should follow a consistent format (APA, MLA, Chicago, ACS, etc. unless otherwise noted). This is not a genre class (one focused on teaching how to write essays, proposals, research papers, etc.). It is your responsibility to make sure that you are submitting your work in an appropriate format.

Commonplace Book (10)

In the early modern period, when books were rare/expensive but the literacy rate was climbing, people began to keep commonplace books: informal collections of useful knowledge, aids to devotion, poems that moved them, even recipes. Now, we have a variety of similar electronic spaces that allow for similar kinds of curation, including Pinterest and Tumblr. For this component of your final grade, you will create your own commonplace book on Tumblr (please do NOT associate this account with your Auburn email address). You will submit the link to your Tumblr in this assignment space by August 21 and keep it through the end of classes. We will "follow" each of your commonplace books throughout the semester, bringing in particularly helpful or interesting contributions to class. The hope is that these commonplace books will allow you to assemble links/images/video/passages/artifacts that reflect your particular "way in" to your final paper. Your entries can be:

quotations from your reading (either primary or supplemental)

items from popular culture that have connection (intellectual or literally) the issues in our course

general thoughts as you move forward

relevant material you find in your intellectual wanderings

Each entry must include:

sufficient citation so that someone else can find the reference

thoughtful commentary

#hashtags that help organize your material for you and others (for example, please include #auburnbookhistory15 in all entries)

While there is no set deadline each week for this assignment, we do expect to see at least one entry posted each week (and we encourage you to include more -- the more you've got, the more stuff you will have to hand as you write). It does neither you nor us any good to neglect your commonplace book until the end of the semester, and such cramming will affect your grade directly (as in, the final grade for this portion of the course) and indirectly (you will waste time best spent on other activities during a critical point in the semester). You will be given a grade at midsemester and a final grade on this component of your semester work -- only the final grade will be used in the calculation.

For more information about early modern commonplace books, see The Atlantic (among others). For examples, see Tumblr entries tagged with "Commonplace Books". This assignment is loosely based on one by Professor Lucia Knowles, and you might find her explanation helpful.

Bibliographic Description of Special Collections Book (10)

You will be assigned a book from Special Collections. Using the bibliographic description models we’ve discussed in class, write a descriptive bibliographic record of the book including notes and description of binding.

Audience Analysis (10)

Choose a book from Special Collections. In a 1,000 – 2,000 word paper describe:

The likely audience for the book at the time of its initial release.

A potential audience for the book were it to be released in a new edition in our own time

Your ideas for what the book might look like in its modern edition

Your work for this assignment should be well-supported with academically viable reference material (at least 4 sources, no Wikipedia,, etc.). Please use a consistent format for your work (APA, MLA, Chicago, ACS, etc.).

Final Project

1. Write an individual proposal (10) in which you justify your selection of textual material for your final group-based editing and production assignment. This proposal will include:

A thoughtful analysis of your audience

A justification for your choice of texts (may not include original work or any copyrighted material

Your plan for creating a successful modern edition of your chosen text

2. Present your proposal (10) to the class (poster). Your poster should be BIG. Your poster should be printed professionally (printing is free for students in the MDRL).

3. [GROUP] Create an edition of your text (15) for a specific audience. Your edition may be designed for either digital or print production.

4. [GROUP] Write a critical introduction (10) to your project in which you:

Justify your textual choice

Justify your editorial choices

Justify your selection of audience

Discuss how your choices are designed to appeal to your audience

Discuss how your choice of production technologies affected your workflow and production process

Your word count should be between 1000 - 1500 words.

Your work for this assignment should be well-supported with academically viable reference material (at least 4 sources, no Wikipedia,, etc.). Please use a consistent format for your work (APA, MLA, Chicago, ACS, etc.).

5. Group Presentation (10)

Present a physical (or digital, make sure you have access to appropriate technology) copy of your work and be prepared to answer questions. What kind of question? We don’t know… lots of people come to these things. Yes, this will be open to the public.

For this component, you will need to be ready to display:

1. The physical or digital copy of your work

2. A modified version of your poster, re-designed to include your group's vision. Think of this as a poster-overview of your project. Anyone walking up to your project should be able to see at a glance what you have done for your project and why you have done this. So a good poster will have all of the elements of the original proposal (audience justification, design choices, etc.), just modified to reflect your group's work. Yes, you may use the original proposal poster as the base and modify only as you see fit. Please consider all of our feedback from the poster-discussion days--as a group--when making these changes.

3. The formal critical introduction to your project, printed, stapled, and ready for any visitors to your project to pick up and read.

6. Reflective Report (5)

In this 800 - 1000 word project reflection, due on the day of our final exam, you will consider this class as a whole. This is your chance to talk us through your learning process over the course of the entire semester, from topics on document design to working with books in special collections. An effective reflection should give us a sense of how you see all of the elements of the class hanging together.  In your reflection, you may wish to consider such topics as:

How working with books in Special Collections has changed your perceptions of print culture

How design principles impact our perception of texts

How culture influences design and production

How technology influences design and production

How group dynamics shape design projects

Your impressions of the course overall

As always, please refer to our course texts, and any neccessary outside source material, in order to support your assertions.

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You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0).

A (90-99%) The document is superior. It exceeds all the objectives of the assignment. The presentation and discussion is ethical, sophisticated, thorough, thoughtful, and ideally suited for the audience. The style is clear and appropriate to the subject, purpose, and audience. The organization and design of the document make the information understandable, accessible, and usable. The mechanics and grammar are correct. Typography and design elements are sophisticated, ethical, and appropriate to audience and purpose. Outside information is cited appropriately.

B (80-89%) The document is good. It meets all of the objectives of the assignment, but requires minor improvements or contains only easily correctable errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Presentation and discussion are good, but could be addressed in more depth. Typography and design elements are good, ethical, and appropriate to audience and purpose. Outside information is mostly cited appropriately.

C (70-79%) The document is adequate. It omits useful information or requires significant improvement in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Presentation and discussion are superficial in places.Typography and design elements are not entirely suited to audience and purpose, have questionable ethics, and/or require significant improvement in order to function for their intended purpose. Some outside information is cited appropriately.

D (60-69%) The document is disappointing. It meets some of the objectives of the assignment but ignores others; the discussion is inadequately developed, omits important information, or displays numerous or major errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Typography and design elements are poorly suited to audience and purpose, lack awareness of ethics, and/or largely fail in their intended purpose. Most outside information is not cited appropriately.

F (0-59%) The document is unsatisfactory. It omits critical information, does something other than the assignment required, or displays major or excessive errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Typography and design elements fail to accomplish desired goals and/or lack ethical awareness. Outside information is not cited.

Team Assignments

Team assignments receive grades based on group and individual work. It is possible that unsatisfactory participation in team assignments will result in a lower participation grade or a lower grade on the team assignment itself. You may be called upon to evaluate your own or your team members' performance on group assignments.

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The following policies intend to help you develop and display professional work habits, both in individual and team work. These habits include meeting deadlines, doing required work, and regular attendance. Please read these policies carefully.

Attendance and Tardiness Policy

*While all students should plan to attend every class, graduate students, in particular, should not miss class. Ever. You are allowed 2 unexcused absences in this class. All unexcused absences beyond 2 will result in a loss of 1 point from your final semester's point total for each absence.

The 2 absences that do not deduct points from your grade are not considered "allowed," "free," or "permitted"-- they only result in no points being deducted from your grade. Any quizzes or participation grades given on a day when you are absent without documentation will result in a grade of zero (0) for that quiz/participation assignment and may not be made up.

Do not show up late to class. If a participation grade or quiz is given during the first 15 minutes and a student arrives late, a grade of zero (0) will be received for that assignment.

A student will be excused from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for documented University-approved functions (such as competing in an athletic event), or the observance of a religious holy day and the time necessary to travel for this observance. The student will not be penalized for the absence and will be permitted to take an exam or complete an assignment missed during the excused absence. The policy applies only to the documented University-approved events and official holy days of tax-exempt religious institutions. No prior notification of the instructor is required, though is requested.

Other than exceptions related to university-related events and religious circumstances, only a note from a doctor or death notice for an immediate family member will result in an absence being excused. Personal circumstances are not considered acceptable for excusing an absence. Please see Auburn University's policies for additional materials relating to what constitutes an "excused" absence. Back to Top Dropping the Course If you drop the course, you must do so in person at the Office of the Registrar. We cannot drop you from the course. It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of the drop dates.

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Due Dates and Submission Technology

You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0). It is your responsibility to turn in your work on time. Computer-related excuses will not be accepted. In the event of difficulties with our course management system (i.e., Canvas), you may email us your work to get it in on time, though you will still be responsible for submitting it through the appropriate channels when the difficulties are resolved. If you believe you have a legitimate excuse for submitting late work you may submit to us a formal appeal. We reserve the right to reject your appeal.

If you are absent the day a physical assignment is due, I will not accept the work via email. You must make arrangements with us to submit work before the deadline or put your work in my department mailbox. If extenuating circumstances apply (see below), your work will be due the day after your return from your athletic event or the day after you attend the emergency appointment or funeral. Electronic documents must be saved in the following format: lastname_firstinitial_assignmentname.

Documents saved in the .docx format are generally compatible across systems. However, formatting is a major aspect of this class. To that end, you may wish to save your file as a .pdf to insure that all formatting appears to us exactly as you intended. There are several free options available to you, beyond those offered by most office software suites, including bullzip,pdfill, and cutepdf, among others. The excuse "it didn't look like that on my computer" will not be accepted.

We may give quizzes at any time during the class. These quizzes cover the specified readings, but they may also cover material introduced in previous classes/chapters. I do not offer make-up quizzes for any reason other than absences for university business (and only with proper university documentation), documented illness (a clinic must document the episode of illness if you have a chronic illness), or the death of an immediate family member. Additionally, late homework exercises will not be accepted under any circumstances.

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Basic Technology Requirements

Computers You are expected to be familiar with the day-to-day operation of computers including email (and sending attachments) and standard software. If you are not familiar with basic computing skills, speak to us as soon as possible, so that we can familiarize you with basic procedures.

You are also expected to have regular access to computing technology whether it be your computer at home or the computers provided by the university. The statement, "I don't have access to a computer" is not acceptable.

Hardware and Disk Media Requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure that the computer(s) and disk(s) you use are functional and that you have, in the case of technological failure, backed up your data. Bring a USB drive to class, keep your work on it, and keep your work updated.

Email Requirement

You are required to have a viable email account. When sending email to us, your instructor, or to your classmates, please ensure the subject line is formatted as: RE: ENGL 7030- [Your Last Name] Identifying emails from students is difficult, especially when sent from accounts outside of the university. If you do not include a valid subject line it may go straight to junk mail, or I may delete your email myself.

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Plagiarism includes any use of words or ideas of another writer that would allow readers unfamiliar with the source to assume that the words or ideas originated with you. THIS INCLUDES USE OF IMAGES. Policy does not allow us to judge whether an instance of plagiarism is accidental or deliberate. If I find in your work 1) another writer's work inserted without quotation marks or acknowledgment, 2) a close, unacknowledged paraphrase of someone else's writing, or 3) another writer's research or analysis presented without acknowledgment, then I will treat it like a plagiarized assignment and deal with it appropriately. Sanctions range from failing the assignment to expulsion from the university. I take the issue of plagiarism very seriously, and will enforce the university's plagiarism policies to their full extent.

Please see Auburn University's policies relating to plagiarism and penalties.

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Special Needs

Auburn University makes reasonable accommodations for people with documented disabilities. I will adapt methods, materials, or testing for equitable participation. During the first week of class, set up a meeting with us. Bring the Accommodation Memo and Instructor Verification Form to the meeting and discuss what you need for equitable participation in this class. If you do not have an Accommodation Memo but need special accommodations, make an appointment with the Program for Students with Disabilities (Haley Center 1244; 334-844-2096; or All communication between a student, the Program for Students with Disabilities, and his or her professor is confidential.

Religious Holidays

Students requiring to miss class due to the observance of an officially recognized religious holy day are asked to consult with us in advance so we can schedule missed work accordingly.

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