LIS 488 History of the Book / Books and Libraries: Beginnings to 1900 010

This is the syllabus for both 488 and 588 History of the Book. Note that all the work is the same, except that 488 students do a shorter semester project. It is the current syllabus for the spring 2013 course.

This is an online-only class. Be sure to read the Technology Policies in the Course Policies section at the end of this syllabus.

A Message from your Instructor

Welcome to the History of the Book: the beginnings to the end of the 19th century.

This course covers the history of the book and the book trade from Sumer in Mesopotamia to publishing in America in the 19th century. In the first half of the class, we trace the development of books globally, ending in Europe in the 14th century. From there, we trace the development of the printed book in Europe and England before we cross the sea and explore books in American until 1900.

This course is ideal for those who are interested in history and particularly the way words on a variety of media developed into the book that we know today. Additionally, the course is essential for students interested in archives and special collections. Even archives that exist independently have collections of books that relate to their documentary material.

This course is an online-only course. There will be a Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) lecture every Sunday from 3 pm to 5 pm. Students are welcome to log in for real-time participation, but a noise-cancelling headset and microphone is required. The reason for this requirement is sound quality. Students without headsets use the computer's microphone and speakers which create echoes and noise.

Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

504 Foundations of Library and Information Services

Course Description: 

This course surveys the history of books and the book trade from early beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia to 1900.   The syllabus tries, as much as possible in one semester, to touch on global perspectives, while acknowledging that much of the focus is on Europe and America.

The  weekly list of topics appears below.

The course concentrates on giving students as solid a knowledge of the topic as can be accomplished in a rapid survey course and encourages thinking across time periods and comparing ways different societies respond to the challenge of making, distributing and preserving their records.

The course is a natural for those who are intrigued with knowlege and society across lands and historical periods. It also provides interesting backgound for cultural practices today, such as authorship, bookselling, book collecting, libraries, and archives. We will find that none of these current practices developed along a straight line from the beginning until now. The many varieties we will encounter underscore that there is no one way to create, record and collect human knowledge, and that these practices arise and are shaped by the societies in which they developed. This is important wisdom for those in the information professions as our society changes around us. 

The knowlege in this course can also be important to you in a variety of positions in libraries and outside. Academic librarians interact with the many disciplines which are connected to the history of the book. Public librarians may benefit for the possibilities for collection and programming of interest to the public inherent in recorded knowledge. Positions in special collections in libraries and in archives which often have book collections within them benefit, and often require, knowledge of the history of recorded documents of all kinds.

And, as is often said, it is impossible to understand the present without knowing the past. Indeed, observations have been made that the book world in cyberspace resembles early book and manuscript practices more than recent book conglomerates turning out best-sellers. If you take this course, you can draw your own conclusions.

Content will be delivered by readings, online lectures in Collaborate (formerly Elluminate), and the contributions of classmates. The week begins at Sunday noon (with the exception of the first week) and ends on Sunday at 11:59 am.. Students are expected to listen to the pre-recorded lecture,  the readings and complete Set I Study Questions, depositing them in the dropbox before Thursday evening at 11:59. Thursday through Sunday will include discussion in small groups and quizzes.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE: Here is the weekly schedule for your information. Any changes will be announced in D2L


Day /Date



Due Dates

Collaborate Live lecture

Wk 1

Jan 9 – 13

Introduction to the course:

Read all the documents in the D2L content section under Syllabus and Course Documents; read all the Instructions for assignments




Friday 2-4


Wk 2

Jan  13 – Jan 20


Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Readings focused on Books. Eliot and Rose,  Ch 5


Sunday, Jan 13, 3-5

Wk 3

Jan 20—Jan 2


Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Reading focused on Books. Eliot and Rose, Ch 6



Sunday, Jan 20, 3-5

Wk 4

Jan 27-Feb 3


Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Readings focused on Books. Eliot and Rose, Ch 7


Sunday, Jan 27, 3-5

Wk 5

Feb 3-Feb 10

Classical and Hellenistic Greece

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Readings focused on Books. Eliot and Rose, Ch 6

Other Book-Related Readings:TBA


Sunday, Feb 3, 3-5

Wk 6

Feb 10-Feb 17

Roman Empire

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Readings focused on Books. Eliot and Rose, Ch 6

Other Book-Related Readings:TBA


Sunday, Feb 10, 3-5

Wk 7

Feb 17 – Feb 24

Eastern Roman Empire and Western Europe to 1101


Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot  and Rose, Chapter 13


Sunday, Feb 17, 3-5

Wk 8

Feb 24-March 3

The Hebrew Book; Islam

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapters 11, 12


Sunday, Feb 24, 3-5

Wk 9

March 3-March 10

Western Europe 1100-1447

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 14

Midterms Open March 6, 11:59 pm; close March 9, 11:59 pm


Sunday, March 3, 3-5

Week 10:   March 10-17    SPRING BREAK

Wk 11

March17- March 24

Gutenberg and Incunabula: 1447 -1500

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 15

Project Preliminaries are due in the dropbox Saturday night, March 23, by 11:59 pm

Sunday, March 17, 3-5

Wk 12

March 24-31

Books Come of Age, 1501-1600

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 16


Sunday, March 24, 3-5

Wk 13

March 31-April 7

British Book Market, 1600-1800

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 17,


Sunday, March 31, 3-5

Wk 14

April 7 – April 14

North American and the Trans Atlantic Book Trade to 1800

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 19


April 7, 3-5

Wk 15

April 14-April 21

The Industrialization of the Book:1800-1970;




British Books 1800-1900

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 20


Eliot and Rose, Chapter 21


Sunday, April 14, 3-5

Wk 16

April 21 – April 26

Building a National Literature: The United States 1800-1900

Reading about geography, history and culture: TBA

Eliot and Rose, Chapter 23


Sunday, April 21, 3-5


April 26 – May 1


History of the Book, from the beginnings to 1900--

themes? progressions? similarities? differences


Projects are due in the dropbox May 1, by 11:59 pm


Final Exams: Open Friday, May 3, 12 am – May 7, 11:59 pm

Sunday, April 26, 3-5



Course Objective: 

Successful completion of this course will help students achieve competency A1.

More specifically, by the end of the semester, students will be able to

Understand the way various societies use books and book collections as part of their social fabric.

Compare the development of writing, books and libraries in different cultures

Develop a broad understanding of recorded ideas through history.

Understand the changes going on now and in the future.

Even more specifically, students will

Demonstrate a mastery of key facts and concepts about books and libraries in each period covered. 

Compare key topics across time periods and social contexts

Address conceptual questions about the development, collection, use, and preservation of recorded knowledge across time periods and societies.

Required Course Materials: 

The required text is A Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, Blackwell Plublishing, 2007, 2008 or 2009.  This is available to all students as a digital resource (PDF) through the main library. All students can use it when they wish as the license includes unlimited and consecutive uses. Students who prefer print texts may purchase any of the editions above through Amazon or other e-tailers.

Additional reading will be assigned in D2L. Web sites may be required or suggested viewing for each week. These will be in D2Las well.

Optional (but strongly encouraged) is the DK Publishing EyeWitness Series. There is one for almost every topic we study. Almost all public libraries have them. They sell for, I believe, about $17 new, and cheaper used ones are widely available on Amazon. They are primarily pictorial, with large-type succinct texts. The newer ones have some of the best cogent descriptions of the civilizations I have run across. For example, the one on Mesopotamia says, "Writing was not invented by poets, authors or even priests, but by accountants." Now who is going to forget that?!

(Digression: I had a student with school-age children who used these books with her kids "to help Mom study." She said she even used the weeks' questions with them, and they came up with surprisingly good answers. She asked me, "Was that cheating?" And I said of course not, group study, with any group, is far superior to individual learning, in my view! My only comment was that I bet high school and college teachers will love those kids.)

The best list of titles is not on their website, but on Wikipedia. Some of the titles I have seen, and used for this course, are:

  • Mesopotamia
  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Rome
  • Ancient China
  • Islam
  • Medieval Life
  • Book



Course Requirements: 

Weekly Workload, Class Schedule and Work


Jana’s Workload Philosophy

My classes typically require the maximum of work recommended by university guidelines for both undergraduates and graduate students. I do this because, if students make a good faith effort to engage with all the assignments, on the timetable suggested, they are very likely to do well. In other words, my philosophy is to require enough and variety of work, to ensure that you will learn, if you do it consistently and with engagement.


Most students do well in my class if they engage with all the work on the required timetable. Those students who do not do well are usually those who do a minimal job on the assignments, do not log in regularly, or skip assignments altogether.


Weekly Workload

Weekly time expectations, following ABOR workload guidelines for undergraduates and general SILRS guidelines for graduate students:

  • 488 students: Assuming the equivalent of 3 hours of class time and 2-3 additional study hours per class hour, 488 students can expect to put in 10-12 hours per week on work for this class, depending on how fast individuals work.
  • 588 students: Assuming the equivalent of 3 hours of class time and 3-4 additional study hours per class hour, 588 students can expect to put in 12-14 hours per week on work for this class.


Normally, it takes 2-3 weeks for students to adjust to the rhythm of this class work. If, after week 3, you find that you are putting in more than this amount of time, get in touch with me, and I will try to help you with ways to reduce your time period.


Class Weekly Schedule

A number of you, especially graduate students, may have become used to face2face classes that meet only once a week.  You may even have formed the habit of logging into online classes once a week and doing all the work in one long stretch.

BE ADVISED: This course does not follow either of these patterns. A better model would be the undergraduate pattern of meeting three days a week for an hour. The work is spread out over the week. You will be expected to log in three times, at the beginning, middle and end of the work week.

Beginning: Sunday noon, Monday, Tuesday. Log in at the beginning of the week to check the news, preferably Sunday or Monday, review the module plan for the week, and listen to the lecture, either in real time or recorded time. Read Set I readings, and work on your 5 set I questions.

Middle: Log in the middle, Wednesday-Thursday, to post your Set I questions. Start the Set II readings, work on terminology, start to post answers to Set II questions in small group discussion, and begin work on your activity. You can start taking the quiz on Thursday

End: Friday -Sunday noon: Log in to take the quizzes, as many times as you like, post some more in your small group discussion, including replying to others, post your activity results and your reflective blog by Sunday at noon.

The work week runs from Sunday at noon (except for the first week) to Sunday at 11:59 am. Students are encouraged to check in on Sunday afternoon or evening to view the News and to review the module plan. The News, which opens when you log into this D2L course, will be the way I communicate with the class. I sometimes post something in the news every day, or every other day, and so it will be useful to form the habit of checking in. The most recent news item is on top, so when you log in, scroll down until you reach the last message you have read. Each student is responsible for knowing what is posted in the news. "I didn't see it" is not an acceptable excuse.

Weekly Activities:

Lectures: Listening to a 1-2 hour recorded lecture from the instructor is required every week. The lecture will be available through D2L on Collaborate (formerly Elluminate), usually by 6 pm on Sunday. The  lecture will be recorded in real-time on Sunday afternoons from  3-5 pm, unless otherwise announced, and students are invited to log in and hear the lecture in real time. Real-time attendance gives the opportunity to ask questions via audio. Attendance at the  live session is not required. If you do not attend the live session, however, you must view the recording of the lecture which will be usually available an hour after the end of the live session. Students who view the recorded session should do that in the first part of the week, as it provides background for the other work during the week. Viewing of every lecture during the appropriate week is required.

Readings: Readings are required every week from the required text or articles posted in D2L. These readings usually will not exceed 50 pages, but some of them take time to understand and absorb, so I suggest that students pace their reading over the week if possible. The purpose of the readings is to retain the big picture of the reading and as many details as possible. I have also tried to find You Tube videos that present the history to you, instead of readings.

Terminology Quizzes: Each week there will be a list of between 20 and 35 terms or concepts, depending on the week.  A weekly quiz will be available from 12:01 am on Thursday to 11:59 am on Sunday. Although the weekly quizzes are not graded and may be taken as many times during the relevant week as desired, at least one attempt is required each week. Quiz questions from each week will make up the midterm quiz exam and the final quiz exam, both of which will be graded and will count in your overall grade. So the weekly quizzes are, in a sense, required practice, and they will also give both of us an indication of how you are absorbing the material. All quizzes will be open before the mid-term and final for study.

Questions: Each week there will be 2 sets of questions: Set I and Set II

Set I will consist of 5 questions and be based on the lecture and  the readings. All students will be required to write out the answers to questions. Answers should be at least one paragraph and should mix facts with your own thoughts and be a good faith effort to answer the question.  Grades will usually be satisfactory or unsatisfactory (essentially pass/fail). A grade of “Outstanding” is available for those answers that show unusual depth of thought or connections.  “Outstanding” does not affect the weekly letter grade of P/F, but will be noted in the student’s record. On the Monday of the beginning of the next week, the instructor will comment on the answers in Jana's forum for relevant week. This is the place to look to fill in your understanding if you missed important points.

Set II will form the basis for discussion in small groups from Thursday to Sunday, 11:59 am. On Tuesday by 11:59 pm, a summary of each group's discussion must be placed in the Set II Small Group Discussion forum. Students should establish a rotation for writing and posting the summaries.

Weekly Online Searching Activities:

In most weeks, there will be a short weekly searching activity, usually looking for something specific on the web, and then posting it in the Activity Sharing discussion, along with a short description. In addition to having you find content on your own that interests you, I try to introduce you to searching tips each week.

Weekly Reflective Blog:

At the end of their week of activity, students are asked to post a reflective blog over what they have learned. This is the time to take a few minutes and let your own thoughts flow. Blogs are not graded but credit will be lost if they are not done or done with fewer than 2- 3 sentences. I value reflective blog postings because they give me a clue to what students are thinking for themselves, not because I ask about something.


All mid-term and final quizzes and exams will be taken on D2L in the Quizzes section. Midterms open March 6, 11:59 pm and close March 9, 11:59 pm. Final Exams will be open Friday, May 3, 12 am – May 7, 11:59 pm. Students are allowed one attempt for each quiz or exam during the above periods.

Midterm quiz and essay exams cover weeks 2 – 9; the final quiz covers terminology in 10-17; final essay exam covers the whole semester. In the final essay exam, you can expect comparative questions of the type that we will go over in the week 17 review.

Mid-term and final terminology quizzes and essay exams are all taken in D2L ON THE HONOR SYSTEM. No outside resources of any kind are to be used in answering the questions. Violation of the honor system can result in failure of the class and/or suspension from the university.


All students will do a semester-long project. Projects are of two types: 1) an academic research paper on a subject of your choice, or 2) a piece of original historical fiction, based on research. The choice is yours. Research in scholarly books and articles is the foundation of both projects. The difference is in the way you write up what you have learned about your area of focus.

Projects for 488 students should be between 1200 and 1500 words. Projects for 588 students should be between 2700 and 3000 words. Projects for 488 and 588 students are due in the dropbox on May 1, 2013, by 11:59 pm.

Once you have chosen the type of project you will do, choose the time period and geographic focus. Start with the time and area represented by one of our modules, and then narrow down to a geographical area and time period. Start your research by understanding more about your time period. Each student must find at least one article in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online (EBO), located from the library's website, > Articles and Databases> E> Encyclopedia Britannica Online. You may choose to read more. Wikipedia articles, in addition to one EBO article, are allowed, but be very aware of possible discrepancies between the two. You will be responsible for errors of fact taken from Wikipedia. Put whatever you read in your bibliography.

Both projects must focus on some aspect of the world of the book within your geographical and temporal period. You can focus on aspects of book production, distribution, content creation, collection, or any number of other topics. Research for this part of your project consists of locating and reading relevant scholarly articles, directly targeted on your area and topic. Scholarly articles are found using subject-specific databases available through the UA Main Library Website, although Google scholar may have some relevant articles; just be careful not to rely on it completely. We will talk about how to find databases during the lecture. We will also talk more about topics in the lectures. There will be a discussion forum for discussing each type of paper as well, which I will monitor every week. If you want an earlier response, send me an email.

488 students are required to use at leave five relevant scholarly articles for their projects, and 588 students must use at least 10. These are in addition to the encyclopedia articles you use for general information about your time period. All resources used need to appear in the bibliography, using APA Citation format. Be sure to remember that APA governs how you cite references in the text as well.

Project preliminaries:

Preliminary pages must be submitted by all students to the instructor for review for both types of projects. They are due in the dropbox Saturday night, March 23, by 11:59 pm

For research papers, preliminaries consist of the title, the introductory paragraph ending in your thesis, an outline of the body of your paper and a bibliography including your encyclopedia article and five other articles, cited in APA format.

Historical fiction preliminaries consist of title, a narrative paragraph introducing your fictional character and his/her historical counterpart (if one exists), the opening paragraph, and an outline of the rest of your fictional presentation, and a bibliography including your encyclopedia article and five other articles, cited in APA format.

Preliminaries will be read and returned with suggestions. They will not be graded but they may be returned for re-doing before proceeding.

Course Grading: 

they may be returned for re-doing before proceeding.

Course Grading: 

Percentages are the same for 488 and 588 students.

Weekly Questions (10%); other participation (5%)


Midterm Terminology Exam


Final Terminology Exam


Midterm Essay Exam


Final Essay Exam


Semester-long project, 1 or 2


Bibliography for semester-long project




Grading Scale: All grades will be converted to 1 to 100, but some may start out 1-10

10, 9 or 100-90


  8 or 89-80


  7 or 79-70


  6 or 69-60


  5 - 0 or 59 - 0




Course Policies: 

Course Policies:

Technology Policies 

This course is delivered online only. (Note that earlier in the fall, there were tentative plans to offer a face2face section, but it was cancelled because too few students were interested).

Several types of technology are used to deliver this course virtually. Please familiarize yourselves with those you don't use easily before class starts.

  • D2L: D2L is the UA's online classroom software. (You may have used D2L as part of a class that had D2L elements along with face2face, so you may be asked to use features you may not be familiar with. Resources for learning D2L are located
  • BlackBoard Collaborate: BlackBoard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) is UA's virtual conferencing software. Even if you have used Elluminate before, you need to review the resources for participates at
  • BlackBoard Collaborate, real time and recorded version: Real Time: To participate with the instructor as the lecture is being recorded, you will need to log into Collaborate about 5 - 10 minuets before the lecture starts. The url for login is found under online rooms on the D2L top navigation bar. Be sure to read the instructions on setting up for participate. NOTE: To participate in real-time in this course, you must use a sound-cancelling headset with a microphone. This piece of technology is actually a requirement for taking your degree at SIRLS, and is a MUST for real-time participation in this course. Recorded Version: The real-time lecture in Collaborate is recorded and is required listening/viewing for all students who do not listen to the whole lecture in real-time. The link will appear in the D2L Content section at approximately 6 pm on the Sunday of the real-time lecture. Please do not use the D2L archives to access the recorded lectures. Use the link provided in the D2L content.
  • UA Main Library Resources: There are numerous resources for online students from the UA Main Library, including digital books, online articles and databases, online reference help and interlibrary loan. Please review the resources for distance students at TBA.
  • Web Resources: There are many resources on the Web that can be accessed by Google, Google Images, Google Scholar and other Google tools. Remember, though, that the most reliable way to find scholarly articles is through the library's databases. We will discuss resources at greater length in class.
  • Encyclopedia articles: Two online encyclopedias will be of help to you. The best traditional encyclopedia, with articles written by experts, is Encyclopedia Britannica Online (EBO), accessed by title from the UA Main Library through the link for articles and databases.

Almost everyone is familiar with Wikipedia. Wikipedia differs from the traditional encyclopedias in that anyone can write an article and anyone can correct it, or expand or contract the same article. We will talk about ways to use Wikipedia to avoid possible mis-information or dis-information.

Help for 488 and 588 from the Library: The library has various online resources for students

Interaction with the Instructor

Especially in online classes, it is important to make expectations clear about interaction with the instructor. I will log onto D2L 2-3 times a week, but will not check all components of D2L. Therefore, if you have questions, either about course operations or course content, email me. If it is about operations and applicable to all, I will post it in the News. If it is about Content, I will post that in the relevant week's Jana's Content Forum. You should read this forum at least a day or two after the week has concluded to read my content remarks. I will read the answers to your questions, and address content issues they raise in the appropriate Jana's Content Forum. I will drop in occasionally to your small groups and respond to your summaries, at least several days after appropriate week. Notice that I have dropped the requirement of D2L discussion forums except in small groups. I have never found that entirely satisfactory pedagogically, so I am trying this approach. You will have a chance to tell me your reaction after the end of the semester.

Academic Code of Integrity
Students are expected to abide by The University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity'The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.' If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under this Code, please ask an Instructor.

Accommodating Disabilities
The University has a Disability Resource Center. If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the Disability Resource Center and request that the DRC send me, the Instructor, official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible. Please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.

Assignment Policies

  • The course week runs from Sunday noon (excluding the first week) to Sunday at 11:59 am.
  • All deadlines are as of 11:59 pm, Tucson time (Mountain Standard Time) on the due date.
  • Students are expected to listen to the pre-recorded lecture, do the readings and complete Set I Study Questions, depositing them in the dropbox before Thursday evening at 11:59 pm.
  • Other required D2L activity for each week is due by the course week's official end, Sunday noon at 11:59 am, with the  exception of the group summaries, which are due Tuesday of the next week at 11:59 pm.
  • Late posts and quizzes will NOT BE ACCEPTED.  Each week's work is an independent unit and is graded as such. It would not be fair to the majority of students who do the work during the week to then have to keep checking to see if more work is posted. It is also not fair, since weekly work is graded, to give some students more time to complete it than others. The only exception is that reading all the small group summaries can be extended into Wednesday because they do not have to be posted until Sunday night.
  • In the event that illness or a major personal catastrophe will prevent you from doing the week's work, contact the instructor at the beginning of the week. In some cases another form of make-up work may be assigned, on a once-only basis. 
  • Midterm and final exams must be taken without the use of any resources outside of the student's own head and are administered under the honor system.
  • Students are expected to write in correct academic English, using standard vocabulary, grammar, spelling and usage.

The current UA Graduate Catalog reads:
The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a term, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed. The grade of I is not to be awarded in place of a failing grade or when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case, a grade other than must be assigned. Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the term ...
Policy for this course is:
Incompletes must be requested a week before class ends. Incompletes will only be given in cases where all work is completed but the final paper. No incompletes will be given to 488 students. If an incomplete is given, the final paper will be due before the start of classes in the spring semester.


Jana Bradley, Professor  (Note: I occasionally reply from my personal Gmail address, but I always receive all mail sent to the official university address and so you can use either one and I will get it in the same timely manner.

Office Hours: Consultations with the instructor in person, via Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) or over the telephone can be arranged in advance at our mutual convenience.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences