The Book in Society

archives-7-1-24-12The Book in Society surveys the history of print culture and discusses such issues as censorship, bestsellers, and the future of the book in the digital age. The course asks such questions as what exactly is a “book”? Who produces it, who reads it, and why? Students examine the ways in which books have been central to modern society—how they have informed, entertained, inspired, irritated, liberated, and challenged readers. They also look at the processes by which books are produced and distributed to readers, and how those processes shape both the ideas that are contained in books and the ways in which readers respond to them.

The course culminates in presentations of independent research projects about some aspect of book culture (historical or contemporary). Students in recent classes have pursued such research topics as the history of Cliffs Notes and other study guides, Islamic traditions of book-making, the Harry Potter phenomenon, magazine design through the ages, women mystery writers, book preservation strategies, and the fiction of Chuck Palahniuk.

This course is offered annually, usually in Fall semester.
For a glimpse at a 1930s schoolboy’s “History of Print,” click here.

students looking at a really old book
student looking at old printed page
student looking at a really old book