- Elizabeth Hebbard
- SW 221
- Days and Times
- MW 11:30a-12:45p
- Course Description
Books are one of the most ordinary and familiar objects in our lives. We see them everywhere without ever really looking at them. We tend to think of books as containers of words and of works that can be accessed in a variety of formats: in print or in e-book, in disembodied PDF scans, or in fragmented GoogleBooks search results. Yet books have much to tell us beyond the words they transmit, especially about ourselves and our place in the natural world.
This course proposes an experiment: what happens when we look at books that we cannot read? If we can no longer access books through their content, we can instead study books as cultural artifacts, and when we do, aspects of their materials and form which have always seemed natural suddenly raise intriguing questions. Why is a page rectangular? Why are print letterforms different from handwritten cursive letterforms? What can bookworms tell us about early print culture? What role do wasps play in the fabrication of medieval ink?
Our main focus in The Book Lab will be looking deeply at early books, imitating historical bookmaking techniques in order to better understand them, and completing collaborative creative projects, such as generating new digital fonts based on historic typefaces and identifying engravings from the history of the Indiana Daily Student. This course introduces students to the interpretation of primary and secondary sources; to the creation and pursuit of research questions; and to the study of rare and archival materials in collections at IUB. Class time will be spent in hands-on lab activities, group discussion, collaborative research, and individual reflection.