History of the Book in Theory and Practice Image Block

History of the Book

in Theory and Practice

9:30 - 10:45, Tuesday/Thursday, Fall 2018
Drs. Emily C. Friedman and Derek G. Ross

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; and Understand and apply principles of textual criticism.

Contacting Us: Dr. Friedman is available Tuesday 1:00 - 3:00 and by appointment, and Dr. Ross is available Tuesday 1:00 - 3:30 and by appointment. We will make every effort to respond to emails within 24 hours, excluding university holidays and weekends.

Week 1:

AUGUST 21 & 23 (Schedule subject to change)

Class 1: Introduction, syllabus walkthrough, and paper-folding excercise.

Discuss Commonplace Book assignment and keeping an active notebook

Abbreviated Syllabus Booklet (pdf)

Class 2, Traditional Technologies and Their Impact (ECF): Discuss Hamlet's Blackberry (pdf).

If time, discuss:

Does the Medium Matter?


Week 2:

August 28 & 30

Class 1, Production Practices and Their Impact (DGR): Schriver 13 - 149

Production practices and their impact (Powerpoint)

Production practices and their impact (pdf) 

Class 2, Special Collections: Meet in Special Collections. Read Book in Society pp. 21 - 114. Before we leave Special Collections, identify to us one or two types of books you would be interested in working with later in the semester.

Week 3:

September 4 & 6

Class 1, Typography (ECF & DGR): Schriver 249 - 301

Gaskel 9 - 39

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

Class 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.)

Week 4:

September 11 & 13

Class 1, Special Collections: Meet in Special Collections. Please make sure to bring your class handouts and Gaskell with you as you will need them to work on your Descriptive Bibliography assignment.

Class 2, Copyright (ECF & DGR): Book in Society 115 - 142 and 177 - 209.

The (updated) Communication Circuit 

Creative Commons 

Week 5:

September 18 & 20

Class 1, Audience--History and Practice (ECF): Book in Society 313 - 340

The Reading Experience Database

City Readers

Class 2, Audience Analysis (DGR): Schriver 151 - 203

Bibliographic Description Due

Week 6:

September 25 & 27

Week 7:

October 2 & 4

Class 1, Document Design Basics (DGR): Schriver 249 - 358

Class 2, 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, and editorial decisionmaking

Week 8:

October 9

Class 1, Special Collections: Choosing a Base Text

Choose 2 - 3 options before leaving

Audience Analysis Due

Week 9:

October 16 & 18

Class 1, Document Design Workshop (DGR): InDesign Tutorial

Class 2, Workshop Proposal Poster: On your own time, watch (or follow along with) Adobe's "Design an eye-catching conference poster" video. Come to class with the beginnings of a poster you can then work on over the course of the class.

Week 10:

October 23 & 25

Class 1, Meet in Meet in Library Auditorium (lower floor, near special collections), Present Posters in Class and Form Groups for Final Project

You will need to print your poster at the DRL. Do not wait until just before class to do this.

Class 2, Workshop: British Library Rights-Free Images

Week 11:

October 30 & November 1

Class 1, Workshop (you may go to either Special Collections or the lab)

Class 2, Workshop (full class in lab)

Week 12:

November 6 & 8

Class 1, Workshop

Class 2, Workshop

Week 13

November 13 & 15

Class 1, Meet in Mell 4027, Critiques and Workshop: Working draft of project due in class

Class 2, Meet in Mell 4027, Critiques and Workshop: Working draft of project due in class

Week 15 (Thanksgiving Falls on Week 14)

November 27 & 29

Class 1, Revision Workshop

Class 2, Revision Workshop

Week 16:

December 4 & 6

Class 1, Final Discussion: This is it, the last in-class day. We'll review the class, discuss what we have learned, and prepare for Thursday's presentations.

Class 2, Presentations, Final Copy of Edited Edition Due: Class presentation day. Meet in Library Auditorium (lower floor, near Special Collections). You will present your edited edition and critical critical introduction, and also (seperate from those grades) be assessed on the presentation of your work (your poster and ability to discuss your project with regard to the coursework along with being able to answer questions put to you on, among other things, audience, purpose, and context).

Your Reflective Report is due by 10:30 am, December 13. Please feel free to turn in your work early, if you so choose.

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 via pdf.

You will be required to produce a physical poster ($8.00 printing cost in the MDRL) and a final, physical book. How you produce this project will be discussed in class, but may--at your own discretion--incur production costs.


ON FORMATTING: All writings in this class should follow APA format. This is not a genre class (one focused on teaching how to write essays, proposals, research papers, etc.). Instead, this class is designed to teach you how to understand, and apply, multiple design theories and approaches. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are submitting your work in an appropriate format. For help on APA style please see the APA handbook or the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue.

Commonplace Book (10 points)

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. For this component of your final grade, you will create your own commonplace book. This will be a physical book that you will bring to class regularly to take notes on your readings and research. 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; Drawings, cuttings from magazines, newspapers, etc.

Each entry must include sufficient citation so that someone else can find the reference and thoughtful commentary. While there is no set deadline each week for this assignment, we do expect to see at least one substantial entry 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). 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 points)

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 points)

 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; and 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, Ask.com, etc.).

Final Project (60 points total)

Your final project for this class will be to produce a physical, modern, edited edition of a book from Special Collections. There are 5 components to this project, which entails both individual and group work.

1. Individual Proposal (10): This individual proposal will justify your selection of textual material for your final, group-based editing and production assignment. This proposal should include a thoughtful analysis of your audience; a justification for your choice of texts (which may not include original work or copyrighted material); and your plan for creating a successful modern edition of your chosen text.

2. Poster Presentation of your Individual Proposal to the class (10): Your work should be of standard, academic poster size (though these vary, 48" by 36" is common) and be professionally printed.

3. [GROUP] Create a Physical Edition of Your Text (15): Your group will design and produce a physical, modern, edited edition of work selected from Special Collections. These will be publicly presented at the cocnclusion of our course.

4. [GROUP] Write a Critical Introduction to your project (10): In this Critical Introduction you will: justify your textual choice; justify your editorial choices; justify your selection of audience; discuss how your choices are designed to appeal to your audience; and discuss how production technologies affected your workflow and production process. This Critical introduction should be between 1000 - 1500 words, and be well-supported with academically-viable reference material using at least 4 sources (no Wikipedia, Ask.com, etc.). Please use a consistent format for your work (APA, MLA, Chicago, ACS, etc.).

5. Group Presentation (10): Here you will present a physical copy of your work and be prepared to answer questions. What kind of questions? We don't know--we will invite many people to this event, which will be open to the public. For this presentation you will need to display the physical copy of your work and a modified poster re-designed to show your group's vision. Think of this as a poster-overview of your project. Anyone walking up to your display should be able to see at a glance what you have done. This means your poster will need to include elements of audience justification and design choice. You may modify the individual proposal poster for this component as you see fit. Please consider feedback from poster discussion days when editing your work. You will also present a 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; and 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.



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

Grades on assignments will be determined according to the following criteria:

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.

Projects submitted more than 7 days after the due date will not be accepted for a grade (they will receive a zero), though I will be happy to look over the project and offer constructive commentary.

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.


You are allowed 2 unexcused absences from this class. Each unexcused absence beyond the 2 allowed will result in the loss of 1 point from your point total for each absence.

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

You 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. You 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.

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.

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, we will not accept the work via email. You must make arrangements with me 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 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. We 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.

Basic Technology Requirements


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, or use the cloud, keep your work on it, and keep your work updated.

Email Requirement

You are required to have a viable @auburn.edu email account. When sending email please ensure the subject line is formatted as: RE: ENGL 4150- [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 we may delete your email ourselves.


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 we 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 we will treat it like a plagiarized assignment and deal with it appropriately. Sanctions range from failing the assignment to expulsion from the university. We 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.

Special Needs

Auburn University makes reasonable accommodations for people with documented disabilities. We will adapt methods, materials, or testing for equitable participation. Students who need accommodations are asked to electronically submit their approved accommodations through AU Access and to make an individual appointment with the instructor during the first week of classes – or as soon as possible if accommodations are needed immediately. If you have not established accommodations through the Office of Accessibility, but need accommodations, make an appointment with the Office of Accessibility, 1228 Haley Center, 844-2096 (V/TT).

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.

Diversity Statement

This classroom is a safe space for all students, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, physical ability, nationality, age, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, and veteran status. As Auburn's Office of Inclusion and Diversity notes, "These and other socially and historically important attributes reflect the complexity of our increasingly diverse student body, local community, and national population." We will not tolerate any language or action which diminishes those around you, and encourage you to speak to us, or the Office of Inclusion of Diversity, if you have questions or concerns regarding the treatment of others.