“The Order of Books” Fall 2011


libraryCultural Studies: The Order of Books

English 273-02 (Graduate Seminar)

Fall 2011  Tues. 2:10-5:00



The Order of Books

“The book is not simply the object one holds in one’s hands” according to Michel Foucault: “the frontiers of a book are never clear cut.” In this seminar we will investigate the materiality of the book as object, combining approaches from book history and textual theory. In recent years, textual scholarship, bibliography and book history have been reinvigorated by the growing interest in questions of mediation and material culture shared across disciplinary lines. The materiality of the codex book, the apparent stability and permanence of its physical form and bibliographic codes, seems to offer a stable ground upon which scholars can build more elaborate theories of unstable texts, discourses, authors, audiences, digital environments. But books are objects whose materiality is as much a part of social, discursive and historicized practices as are the words, ideas and images they “contain.”

Grounding our inquiry in an understanding of books as material objects, we will consider the wide-ranging theoretical possibilities of this dynamic materiality. We will read from major theoretical statements and recent historical work on textual history, textual theory, material and print culture, including the work of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Robert Darnton, Jacques Chartier, Adrian Johns, Katherine Hayles, Franco Moretti, William St Clair, Jerome McGann, D.F. McKenzie, Elisabeth Eisenstein. Each student will be responsible for an oral presentation, short critical response papers, and a seminar paper. This seminar is open to graduate students from all humanities disciplines and satisfies one course requirement for UCR’s Designated Emphasis in Book, Archive, and Manuscript Studies. To enroll please contact the English graduate administrator Tina Feldmann (tfeldmann@ucr.edu).

Recommended Preparatory Reading before classes begin:

Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge UP, 2nd ed.

Required Books:

Chartier, Roger.  The Order of Books. Stanford UP, 1992.
Finkelstein and Mccleery,  Introduction to Book History. Routledge 2005.
Finkelstein and Mccleery, eds. The Book History Reader. Routledge 2005, 2nd ed.
Moretti, Franco. Graphs, Maps, Trees. Verso, 2005.

In addition, we will also read numerous essays and chapters available via our Blackboard ilearn website.

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