Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List
- Peter W.M. Blayney. The First Folio of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991. (Available through their bookshop, SKU 002004.)
Page for page, this may be the best introduction to the bibliography of early modern books ever written. Although only parts of it relate to analytical techniques, you should read this in its entirety—probably once a year. Start with this text before proceeding to number 2 below.
Be careful not to confuse this $7.95 paperback with the $150 Norton facsimile bearing the same title and an introduction by Blayney.
- Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography. New Castle, DE/Winchester: Oak Knoll Press & St. Paul's Bibliographies, 2009 (reprint of the corrected 1974 printing).
Still the standard introduction to historical bibliography, with frequent references to analytical matters along the way. Try to have read (selectively) p. 5-12, 40-141, 164-170, and 311-320, and become familiar with the basics of the collation formulary on p. 328-332. Please bring a copy of Gaskell to class, as you will probably have frequent recourse to it. The more basic imposition diagrams following p. 87 will play a central role in the course, though RBS practice format sheets will be available. If you find yourself overwhelmed by bibliotopology, try watching the video presentation The Anatomy of a Book: I. Format in the hand-press period written by Terry Belanger and directed by Peter Herdrich. If your local library doesn’t have it, the DVD can be purchased from Rare Book School at a reduced rate of $45. (This discount applies only for students enrolled in courses at RBS.) The $45 package includes a workbook and facsimile practice materials as well as the cost of domestic shipping. Please note: students located outside of the United States must contact RBS for international shipping rates before sending payment.
If after watching the video you still feel unsure with the basic impositions and foldings, you should take either RBS G-10 or G-20 before tackling this course.
- G. Thomas Tanselle. Bibliographical Analysis: A Historical Introduction. Cambridge U.P., 2009.
Although the course will not follow Tanselle’s historical approach, you will find it very useful to be familiar with Chapters 1 and 2 of this book. (We will not cover the topics in Chapter 3.) Tanselle’s tightly reasoned exploration of the values and pitfalls of different types of evidence goes beyond what we will be able to cover in a week, and its reading list (with accompanying chronological and subject indexes) cannot be bettered for the Anglo-American sphere. Don’t worry if everything doesn’t make sense at first—that’s what the class is for.
Tanselle’s list of works cited is supplemented by his own Introduction to Bibliography (2002), p. 255-365.
- D.F. McKenzie, “Printers of the mind: some notes on bibliographical theories and printing-house practices.” Studies in Bibliography 22 (1969), p. 1-75. Reprinted in his Making meaning: “Printers of the mind” and other essays, ed. Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002).
McKenzie rocked the little world of bibliography with his demonstration that some common assumptions about printing shop work-flow were not borne out by the records of an actual eighteenth-century establishment. This is a complex and technical article, but try to follow the general lines of evidence leading to the conclusion that shops were often printing more than one job at once. McKenzie’s caveats about the implications of this, notwithstanding Tanselle’s criticisms in #3, need to temper any bibliographical investigation.