Group seminars, or individual conferences, are scheduled under this number to meet special needs. Prerequisite: permission of the Graduate Program Coordinator.
Winter 2013 - Special Topics: READING
This course invites students to investigate in depth an activity that is fundamental to a university education, not to mention central to modern life: that is, reading (an activity that, first in the television age and now against the backdrop of the “new media revolution,” is always assumed to be at threat). We’ll focus on reading books, though of course we have to understand book reading in the context of a wide array of other kinds of readings (periodicals, signs, leaflets, letters, and now especially, digital text). We’ll consider what reading is; and investigate its history, how reading was shaped by specific uses of the written word, whether religious, political, scholarly or social/leisurely; by developments in the technologies that offer access to texts (manuscripts; printed books; e-readers); and by changes in the various scriptural, typographic, and conceptual “rules” that help us make sense of the texts before us, that is, changes in how we expect texts to be presented on a “page” (whether paper or virtual), in type forms (say, from Gothic to Roman type), as well as in how the authority and credibility of the text is establish (e.g. the importance of the Author). Throughout, we’ll be attentive to the political, civil, and economic stakes that shaped reading’s evolutions, as these are manifest in phenomena such as literacy, public opinion, and the commercial interests in expanding consumer markets for books.
The course will be conducted in English. Readings will be available in English. Most of our focus will be on early modern Europe and France. But we’ll consider all relevant contexts, and final papers can investigate other times and places.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading