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LRBS 2022

Below are outlines of the courses that were run. The courses consisted of live lectures and interactive discussion, as well off-site visits.

For more information on past courses, please email

LRBS week one, 20-24 June 2022

Art & Science: The Art of Natural History Illustration | Henrietta McBurney & Roger Gaskell

The place of natural history illustration is often overlooked in traditional histories of art and visual culture. But images of the natural world created by such renowned artists as Dürer and Leonardo, lesser-known figures Hoefnagel, Ligozzi, and natural history illustrators Catesby and Ehret, hold an important place in the intersection of art and science. This course offers new perspectives on the ways in which nature has been viewed, drawn, and illustrated in books from the early Renaissance to modern times and examines the making and function of such images. Teaching, combining lectures and object sessions, will be based on selected artists, their works and associated books from each of six main topics: the meaning of Ad Vivum; Cabinets of Curiosity, Paper Museums and Florilegia; Gardens and the Age of Discovery; Romanticism, East & West; Victorian to Modern.

European Bookbinding | Nicholas Pickwoad

The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course. The development of binding decoration will be touched on, but will not form a major part of the discussion. 

Marginalia in Books | Christopher Ohge

This course introduces students to the history and study of marginalia, or annotations and markings made in books and other forms of printed material. The course surveys, in chronological order, forms of marginalia beginning with the medieval period, and concludes with a demonstration of a digital reading experience database. Marginalia studies will also be demonstrated by new research in print and digital, including the Archaeology of Reading project and case studies of Mary Astell, John Keats, Herman Melville, and the actor Frank Fay’s marginalia to W. B. Yeats’s plays. The impact of digital methods will also figure into several presentations. 


The Medieval Book | Michelle Brown

This course will provide an intensive introduction to manuscript culture during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The historical contexts for manuscript production will be explored and the landscape populated with some of those who commissioned and made these remarkable works. Techniques of production, terminology and methods of description and cataloguing will be examined and a brief survey of palaeography and codicology will be provided. Styles and principal trends will be studied, with the aid of digital images, slides, facsimiles and primary sources. The Course Tutor and additional lecturers are all acknowledged experts in their fields and will share their experience and perspectives as scholars and curators. 

The Printed Book in Europe 1455-2000 | Simon Eliot

This course will explore the origins, spread, and impact of printed materials in Europe, and particularly Great Britain, from Gutenberg to the point at which they appear to be facing their greatest challenge in five hundred and fifty years. The course will concern itself not only with processes and products, but with the problems of distribution raised by the mass-manufacture of printed materials, and by the changing nature of the ways in which these materials were read and stored. Most importantly of all, the material nature of the book will be emphasised, and its changing impact on the culture of Europe — and beyond — will be explained in terms of this materiality.


Provenance in Books | David Pearson

The primary aim of this course is to develop a personal toolkit to identify and interpret the various kinds of provenance evidence found in books before 1900.  Interest in historical book ownership and what we can learn from individual copies and whole libraries has steadily grown among librarians, scholars and collectors, and more attention is paid to recording it in catalogues. The course will cover different manifestations of provenance – inscriptions, bookplates and book labels, armorials and other evidence from bindings – and include practical instruction on palaeography, heraldry and reference sources. Although the focus will be on practical and factual learning to take away, some time will be devoted to the theoretical and interpretative book historical context within which provenance evidence is of value.

LRBS week two, 27 June - 1 July 2022

The Early Modern Book in England | Giles Mandelbrote & Arnold Hunt

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the English book trade was transformed from a small business into a major industry. This course explores the history of the production, distribution and consumption of both printed books and manuscripts in England during this crucial period of change. Tracing the rise of publishing in English, it will examine some of the factors which stimulated the growth of the book trade, such as the Reformation, the English Civil War, the role of the Stationers’ Company and the spread of literacy. Themes such as copyright legislation, censorship and control of the press will be discussed, as well as the role of manuscripts in an age of print, the development of new markets in the English provinces and overseas, and the emergence of new printed genres such as newspapers and novels. The course will introduce the records of the Stationers’ Company (with a workshop held at Stationers’ Hall) and the English Short-Title Catalogue as research resources. It offers an opportunity to look closely at books as historical artefacts, including aspects such as formats, imprints, and survival, and to interpret the physical evidence in the light of a range of contemporary documentary sources.

English Bookbinding Styles | David Pearson

The main aim of this course is to give participants a toolkit to identify and date English bindings on historic books of the handpress period, distinguishing the contemporary from the later and the repaired, covering the progression of decorative styles which enable simple as well as upmarket bindings to be recognised. It will focus on external, visible features, rather than internal structures, but will cover the materials used to make bindings, and their distinguishing features. English bindings form the backbone of the course, but continental European ones will be brought in to compare, contrast, and set the wider context. Consideration will also be given to the book historical landscape in which bindings should be seen, understood and interpreted. “What are the questions I should ask, when looking at a historic binding?” is a theme that will run through this course, and it is hoped that students will come to the end of the week better equipped to both pose and answer those questions.

An Introduction to Book Collecting & Book Cultures | Cynthia Johnston

This course will pursue a panoptic view of the growth of book culture and the practice of book collecting by tracing the arc of book historical study. Beginning with the well-documented libraries of the ancient world in various media – including the cuneiform library of Ashurbanipal in Assyria and the papyrus scrolls of Alexandria and Pergamum, as well as recent discoveries from the ‘Villa of Papyri’ in Herculaneum – we will examine the role of libraries in the context of power and identity. The course will proceed to explore collecting in medieval culture, on both institutional and personal levels, through monastic libraries and individual collections; the practice and cultural impact of book collecting in the Renaissance, with emphasis on the development of the individual collector; and the development of a culture of collecting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the social diversification of the practice through the impact of the Industrial Revolution. These topics will lead up to a global retrospective from which to interrogate the practice of collecting and the concept of book culture. 

The Modern Rare Book Trade | Leo Cadogan & Angus O’Neill

The purpose of this course is to introduce the international rare and antiquarian book trade as a public resource, a source for information and advice and a means of acquiring books, manuscripts, prints, paper ephemera, and other related items. The course should be useful for students including librarians, collectors, scholars, and private and institutional vendors. The overall aim is to demythologise the trade and encourage an understanding of it in the context of the wider bibliophile and scholarly worlds.  

We intend to show how the trade has traditionally worked, the challenges it faces, and future trends. Subjects of the broad examination will include organisation, markets, research and materials. There will be sessions introducing the trade, its buying and selling methods and history; exploring traditional factors that drive prices (e.g. rarity, scarcity, the "first edition", bindings); an introduction to reading commercial descriptions of rare books and what they can tell us (and not tell us); and a study of modern interests in collecting. These last include ephemeral printing; collecting items in complete context (e.g. with their storage materials); collecting complete libraries and archives; buying and selling unbroken sammelbände; and collecting on marginalised groups in book history. There will be an extended session on the study of provenance. This is an increasing factor of value as we seek to understand our materials in new contexts. The research also protects against the purchase of stolen goods. Another subject that combines historical and collecting interest and protection of the integrity of our trade is the study of repair, ‘sophistication’ and forgery. We will give this proper attention on our course as well.