The course aims to set some well-known and thoroughly-studied English novels in a significantly new context. The novels to be studied are: Northanger Abbey, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, Dracula, and Howard's End. None of these novels was written for readers in the twenty-first century so, in order to move students away from the Whigish view adopted in many English departments, we need to understand how contemporaries might have read these books. This requires that students understand not only the broad historical context, but also significant details of the material environment in which those first readers lived, and the ways in which books and newspapers were produced, delivered - and read in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
London - with its long history of book production, its role as one of the world’s major publishing centres, its famous libraries, museums, archives, and antiquarian bookshops - is the ideal place in which to study the history of the book. And the London Rare Books School (LRBS) is one of the world’s leading institutions in this field. In June and July 2016 London Rare Books Schools once again offers a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects to be taught in and around Senate House which is the centre of the University of London's federal system.
The courses are taught by internationally renowned scholars, including the ILAB affiliates and ABA members Angus O’Neill and Laurence Worms, using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Senate House Libraries, and many more. Each course consists of thirteen seminars amounting in all to twenty hours of teaching time spread between Monday lunchtime and Friday afternoon. In small groups of no more than 12 participants, the students have plenty of opportunity to talk to the teachers and to get very close to the books. All courses stress the materiality of the book, so students will have close encounters with remarkable books and manuscripts and other artefacts from some of the world's greatest collections. There will also be timetabled 'library time' that will allow students to explore the rich resources of the University's Senate House Library, one of the UK's major research libraries.