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G-60. Introduction to c15 Printing

Paul Needham

The use of a wide variety of evidence – paper, type, rubrication and illumination, bindings, ownership marks, and annotations &ndash to shed light both on questions of analytical bibliography and wider questions of book distribution, provenance, and use. There will be a fairly detailed discussion and analysis of both good and bad features in existing reference works on early printing.

This course is intended to serve as a general introduction to bibliographical analysis. Its examples and methods are primarily derived from C15 printing, as this is a period commonly overlooked or only summarily treated by the standard guides. Copy-specific features of books will also be examined, for the same reason that the standard guides generally neglect them.

Note that this course is not a general historical introduction to incunabula; the primary purpose of the course is to encourage a way of bibliographical thinking that should prove useful in the analysis of all books, early or modern.

Students should have already taken the RBS Descriptive Bibliography course (G-10) or its equivalent. Since so many of the books studied will be in Latin, some familiarity with that language will be an advantage. In their personal statement, students should indicate the extent of their proficiency with descriptive bibliography and with Latin.

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Course History


Course name changes from "Physical Evidence in Early Printed Books."


Paul Needham has taught this course many times since 1988.