An intensive survey of the origins of, and the changes in, textual culture that took place between c. 2500 BC and 400 AD. It will set these changes into their related historical contexts and place considerable emphasis on the material nature of writing and book construction. This will involve extensive use of materials from the Museum of Writing currently housed in the Senate House Library. In addition to handling and using original artefacts, students will have the opportunity to experiment with writing on clay tablets, on papyrus, and on wax tablets using modern reconstructions. The course will end by looking at the ways in which the modern book form (the codex) emerged at the end of the period, and how some of the ancient texts studied in the course survived through the post-classical manuscript periods to the age of printing.
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.