Jun 19, 2024  
Course Catalog 2016-2017 
Course Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Book Studies Concentration

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Book Studies has emerged in the 21st century as an exciting and inherently interdisciplinary field of study.  It encompasses the social and cultural history of books/texts and their transmission as well as artisanal and artistic approaches to the book as represented by book artists, illustrators, graphic designers, binders, fine press printers, and others engaged in studying the relationships between text and image. The “book” in Book Studies is multiform, extending beyond the printed codex to embrace all formats, from cuneiform tablets to electronic media. The study of the book–as a material, cultural, sociological, religious, and artistic artifact–reaches all corners of the globe and extends into all eras and attends to both hegemonic and divergent voices, while book history and book arts are mutually reinforcing.

Tracing technologies of reading and writing throughout history, across the globe, and in a variety of media, Book Studies provides a rich context in which to understand the cultural significance of current forms of communication and information storage, from social media to data mining. It fosters skills of critical thinking while placing equal emphasis on thinking practically about employment opportunities by alerting students and preparing them for careers in new media, art and design, academia, education, conservation, publishing in various media, archives, and librarianship. 

Curriculum Overview

Our goal is to provide pathways for students interested in books as communication, material culture, and artistic media on a global scale. Bridging theory and practice, history and contemporary culture, the intellectual and the artistic, Western and non-Western, Book Studies encourages connections across the curriculum and allows students to tailor a wide variety of courses to their particular interests.

Book Studies pursues two core approaches: 1) history and theory, and 2) practice. By means of these two approaches Book Studies enables students to experience how making and creating go hand in hand with thinking and analyzing.

To complete a concentration in Book Studies students must fulfill the following requirements:

The gateway course, Introduction to Book Studies. Students can fulfill the gateway requirement at any point in the concentration, but they are encouraged to take it early.  Doing so will allow them to tailor their assignments in subsequent theory and practice courses to their particular interests.

Four electives. Of the four electives at least one course must be from the history and theory category and one from the practice category (see below). Students must take courses in at least two departments in addition to the Introduction to Book Studies. An approved winter term project or summer internship can count in the Practice Category. We prize winter term and summer internships as opportunities for students to gain experience that cannot be realized during the regular semester. The committee will recognize as practice appropriate work of this nature, even though such experiences do not count toward the number of college courses required for graduation.

An Intellectual Coherence Statement.  Upon declaring a Book Studies Concentration, students will identify an advisor from the Book Studies Concentration Committee.  In consultation with the advisor, they will write an intellectual coherence statement, outlining their intended course of study and their understanding of how the courses undertaken will relate to one another.  This statement will be submitted to the Book Studies Concentration Committee and periodically revisited by the student in consultation with the advisor.

A Culminating Experience. Book Studies concentrators will meet with Book Studies advisor and one other committee member to reflect on the concentration.


Current Book Studies Committee

Laura Baudot, Associate Professor of English (lbaudot@oberlin.edu)
Alan Boyd, Interim Director of Libraries (alan.boyd@oberlin.edu)
Sarah Hamill, Assistant Professor of Art History (sarah.hamill@oberlin.edu)
Erik Inglis, Professor of Art History (erik.inglis@oberlin.edu)
James O’Leary, Assistant Professor of Musicology (james.oleary@oberlin.edu)
Ann Sherif, Professor of East Asian Studies (ann.sherif@oberlin.edu)
Ed Vermue, Special Collections Librarian (ed.vermue@oberlin.edu)
Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias, ex officio, Professor of Studio Art (nyannuzz@oberlin.edu)
Sandy Zagarell, Professor of English (sandy.zagarell@oberlin.edu)

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