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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Oct 19, 2017
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SPAN 491 - Book History& 1st Best-Sellers
Course Goals & Description

As students and scholars, we all read from screens, books, printed pages, and—with less and less frequency—handwritten documents. How does each form affect our understanding? Is the medium the message? Did the advent of printing change the ways we read and think? 

This class will combine the study of the first 150 years of book culture after the invention of printing in Europe with readings of some of the most popular fiction on the international European book market in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: Amadis of Gaul, Celestina, Arnalte and Lucenda, The Prison of Love, and Grisel and Mirabella. Reading fictions while the studying material books that contain them, we will explore how book-objects reflect the emotional and intellectual experiences of historical readers. We will discuss the relationships between manuscripts and printed books, the politics and business of publishing, the importance and effects of book format on readers, and developing notions of authorship and literary property. 

Throughout the semester we will visit Georgetown’s Booth Special Collections Center, The Library of Congress, the Folger Library, and the National Gallery of Art. Students will seek out manuscripts and early printed books conserved in the DC metro area’s Libraries in order to do individual projects. We will also make use of the growing number of digital archives of pre-modern books and discuss how this newer medium is changing reading habits today (even now, as you read this course description on-line).

Texts & Readings

1. Howsam, L. Old Books and New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in Book and Print Culture. U Toronto Press, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0802094384 
2. Finklestein Ed. The Book History Reader. Routledge, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0415226585 
3. Celestina. Ed. Severin. Cátedra. 2006. ISBN-13: 978-8437607009 
4. Obras de Diego de San Pedro. I. and II. Ed. Whinnom. ISBN-13: 978-8470390333 and ISBN-13: 978-8470391576 
5. Martin Abad. Los Primeros Tiempos De La Imprenta En Espana, 1471-1520. Laberinto 2003. ISBN-13: 978-8484830863. 

We will use digital resources, such as the Biblioteca virtual Cervantes and Early English Books Online (EEBO), for other readings. 
Assignments & Expectations of Students

This course will be taught in English with readings in Spanish and English. Students lead discussions, write 2 5-7 page papers, and complete an original research project.

Prerequisites for undergrads 241, 242, 261, or 262 (or equivalent)

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Spanish Department

Course Attributes:
HALC - Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, Mean Grade is Calculated

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Release: 8.7.2