Cultures of the Book

On Campus
Subject Area
Course Number
ENGL 1600 950
Course Code
Course Key
Primary Program
Course Note
Fulfills requirements: Sectors 1, 3, 4 of the English major and Sector IV Humanities and Social Scie
Course Description
June 10 - July 12, 2024. This course aims to challenge everything you thought you knew about books, reading, and writing. For this special “London edition,” we will focus on how cultural heritage has (and has not) been collected and exhibited in the city’s extraordinary libraries and museums. We’ll begin with the British Library, the largest national library in the world (and once part of the British Museum). We’ll explore the library’s rare treasures and learn how its staff use the latest technologies to make these important books accessible to a new generation of readers. At the same time, we’ll turn a critical, historical eye on the British Library as an institution, tracing its origins back to eighteenth-century imperialism and linguistic nationalism. How have Enlightenment values shaped what “counts” as literature? Who decides what texts are saved and read? With this history in hand, we’ll consider counter-archives where individuals have, over the centuries, saved what otherwise would have been lost. Roaming the back alleys of London, we’ll visit small zine libraries and collections of political ephemera. Throughout our discussions and site visits, we’ll keep an eye on the ethics of collecting cultural heritage and the passions that drive it. As a capstone assignment, students will collaborate on producing their own digital humanities project(s).
Subject Area Vocab