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The History of the Book Seminar is an on-going interdisciplinary faculty and advanced graduate student seminar on the History of the Book, with the definition of "book" taken very loosely to mean any kind of text, be it a codex or anything else. The focus will be on the physical production of texts of any sort and how they are received or perceived by their original (and subsequent) audience(s). This focus is intended to involve us in discussion of a wide-ranging group of related issues, such as how material forms affect the meaning (or at least the understanding) of given works, how canons are formed, patronage and its effect on works of art, literacy and how one determines what constitutes it, the history of reading, changes in the dominant media in a given culture. The seminar has involved a wide range of scholars from a number of departments including: English, Journalism, Telecommunications, Classics, Art History, Religious Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and Musicology, and librarians in both the Wells and Lilly Libraries.
Meetings of the seminar are held on Mondays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Lilly Library. Presenters at each session are asked not to provide formal lectures but a twenty- to thirty-minute account of present work in progress, an account which will be preceded by a one- or two-paragraph Abstract, distributed a week in advance, via a listserv, to those expressing interest in the seminar. Each session's presenter is asked as well to come armed, insofar as is possible, with some handout or material demonstration (books or xeroxed pages from same, slides of artworks, video tapes, etc.) that might serve as a basis of discussion. Emphasis in the seminar is on the interchange of ideas and we have always been anxious to avoid a format in which one person speaks and the audience remains passive.
Anyone interested in participating in such a venture should please communicate that fact to Peter Lindenbaum (email: email@example.com) of the English Department who will enter your name on the listserv. Announcements concerning the seminar are sent out to those subscribing to the listserv.
Sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.