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ENGL428Y: Book 2.

0: The History of the Book & The Future of Reading
Spring 2010
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-4:45 pm
Tawes Hall 0201
Section 0101
January 26–May 12

Kari M. Kraus, PhD
Office: 3217 Tawes Hall
Office hrs: Tuesdays 2:15-3:15 pm or by appt.

Department of English
2119 Tawes Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland


When Shakespeare's Polonius, acting as spy for King Claudius, encounters an aggrieved
Hamlet pacing about with an open book, he asks the prince what he is reading. Hamlet's
evasive response--"words, words, words"--intentionally misconstrues the question,
preferring to treat it as an inquiry about the material properties of the book rather than an
expression of curiosity regarding its meaning or subject matter. Taking a cue from this
exchange, this course situates the physicality or "thingness" of books--those "poor bits of
rag-paper [printed] with black ink," as Thomas Carlyle once described them--within book
culture more broadly. Our approach will be expansive as we survey antecedents of the book
ranging from the clay tablets of the ancient Near East to the papyrus scrolls of antiquity to
the manuscript and printed codices of the middle ages and early modern era. This historical
backdrop will set the stage for a speculative consideration of the future of the book,
including developments in areas such as electronic paper, wireless reading devices, mobile e-
readers, distributed storytelling, DIY publishing experiments, and locative narratives and
place-based authoring. Over the course of the semester we will test the elasticity of our
mental models by looking at extreme examples of reading and writing technologies, from
edible books to self-destructing poems to a nano-edition of the Hebrew Bible inscribed on a
surface smaller than the head of a pin. We will read primary texts by William Blake,
Johanna Drucker, Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, and the Chinese artist Xu Bing, as well
as secondary texts by a variety of influential scholars. Finally, we will supplement our
cultural and technological investigations with forays into the cognitive science of reading,
delving into how our eyes scan and our brains process a page or screen of text.
In addition to class participation and lab exercises, course requirements will consist of a short
paper, blog entries, one longer paper or project, and a final exam.


This class is unique in that it will serve as the basis for a research project examining how
students use portable electronic reading devices in the academic environment. Each of you
will be provided with a free prototype electronic reader for the duration of the semester that
has been developed by a UMD professor and graduate student. The device will contain
materials for the course, reference texts (including the Oxford English Dictionary), and
special tools like a notebook. You will be asked to use this device to do much of required
reading for the semester, and naturally it will feed into some of our class discussions about
the future of the book.

While our tools will obviously be very new, the course content won’t be any “harder” for that
reason, nor will you be asked to do any additional work beyond providing occasional
feedback to the researchers.

You can choose to not participate in the study or terminate your participation in the study at
any time. If you received an electronic device for the semester, you will need to return the
device upon your decision to terminate your participation. A copy of your data on the device
will be provided on DVD after the device is returned. Participation or non-participation in
the study will have absolutely no bearing on any aspect of your course grade.

We hope you will choose to give us the benefit of your participation. This is a unique
opportunity to play a part in cutting edge research designing the next generation of books.

The following texts are required and can be purchased online or through the campus

1. Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, A Companion to the History of the Book (Wiley-
Blackwell, 2009). ISBN: 140519278X
2. J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman, Personal Effects: Dark Art, Har/Pap. (St.
Martin's Griffin, 2009).
3. Ronald Johnson, Radi Os (Flood Editions, 2005). 0974690244
4. Stanislas Dehaene, Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human
Invention, 1st ed. (Viking Adult, 2009). 0670021105
5. B.S. Johnson, The Unfortunates, First Edition. (New Directions, 2009). 0811217434

Additional readings will be distributed as handouts, accessible on the WWW, made available
on Blackboard (our course management site), or pre-loaded onto our prototype ebook
It is your responsibility to bring copies of the required readings--whether print or electronic--
to class on the day we're slated to discuss them.


Academic Accommodations. If you have a documented disability, you should contact
Disability Support Services at 0126 Shoemaker Hall. Each semester students with
documented disabilities should apply to DSS for accommodation request forms which you
can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for
eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the
DSS web site at

Religious Observances. The University System of Maryland policy provides that students
should not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be
given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic
assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. It is the
responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious
observances in advance. Notice should be provided as soon as possible but no later than the
end of the schedule adjustment period. Faculty should further remind students that prior
notification is especially important in connection with final exams, since failure to reschedule
a final exam before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of
credits during the semester. The problem is especially likely to arise when final exams are
scheduled on Saturdays.

Academic Integrity. The University of Maryland has a nationally recognized Code of
Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards
for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student
you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you
to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For
more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please

The University of Maryland is one of a small number of universities with a student-
administered Honors Code and an Honors Pledge, available on the web at The code prohibits students from cheating on
exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without
authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures. The
University Senate encourages instructors to ask students to write the following signed
statement on each examination or assignment: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or
received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment).”

Late Work. All assigned work is due on the date given on the course calendar, unless you
have extenuating circumstances (for which you will generally be required to provide
documentation) and have made specific prior arrangements with me. Late work will be
docked up to one full letter grade (or not accepted at all if more than a week overdue). If you
have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations with me, please
let me know as soon as possible.

Late Arrivals. Attendance will be taken at the start of each class. My policy is to count two
late arrivals as one absence.

Attendance. Because it is a relatively small class, ENGL428Y allows for far more student
input than a large lecture course would permit: you have a voice in class discussions and your
contributions add to our collective knowledge. If you are absent, you will be missed: the class
simply won't function optimally without you. I will confer with anyone who seems to be
having trouble making it to class regularly, and may ask such persons to drop the course.
Please note that it is your responsibility to contact me about material you may have missed.

Email. You are welcome to email me to clarify an assignment, schedule an appointment,
notify me about an illness or university-sanctioned absence, or within limits discuss other
course-related matters. Please do not send me "what did I miss" emails if you were absent or
"why did I get this grade" emails in response to graded assignments. Questions of this nature
need to be handled in person. Come see me during office hours or set up an appointment.
Additionally, please do not submit assignments to me via email unless I have specifically
requested that you do so.

Assignments. I will collect individual assignments and projects on the dates specified on the
syllabus and return them to you with written feedback and a letter grade. All grading will use
the university's plus/minus system. The requirements for the course, and their weight in
determining your final grade, are as follows:

--Participation: 15% (attendance, class discussion, blog entries, in-class exercises).
--Short Paper: 20%.
--Selected Blog Entries: 20%.
--Research project: 35%.
--Final exam: 10%.

WEEK BY WEEK COURSE DESCRIPTION (tentative schedule, subject to revision;
any changes will be announced in class) Note: “CHB” = Companion to the History of the

week 1 overview due readings assignments
tuesday 26 Introduction to
january ENGL 428Y
thursday Methods and * Theory of affordances
28 january Approaches (Wikipedia and Interaction
Design Encyclopedia)
*Matthew Kirschenbaum,
“Bookscapes: Modeling Books
in Electronic Space”
week 2 overview due readings assignments
*“The Clay Tablet Book in
The Material Sumer, Assyria, and In-Class Lab
tuesday 2 Text: Before the Babylonia” (CHB), pp. 67-83 Exercise:
february Codex “The Papyrus Roll in Egypt, Writing on
Greece, and Rome” (CHB), pp. Clay
*“China” (CHB), pp. 97-110
*“The Hebraic Book” (CHB),
thursday 4 The Material
pp. 153-164
february Text:
Beyond the West *“The Islamic Book” (CHB),
pp. 165-176
week 3 overview due readings assignments
*“Parchment and Paper:
Manuscript Culture 1100- In-Class Lab
tuesday 9 The Codex in the
1500” (CHB), pp. 194-206 Exercise: Book
february West
*“The Gutenberg Revolutions” Formats
(CHB), pp. 207-219
thursday Workshop
11 (pending
february scheduling with
Pyramid Atlantic)
week 4 overview due readings assignments
tuesday 16 Reading and Reading in the Brain
Paper #1 (due:
february Cognition (Introduction, Chpts. 1-3)
2 March)
*Reading in the Brain (Chpt. 4)
*Selection from Proust and the
Writing and Squid (ebook reader)
Cognition *Procne and Philomela (from
Ovid’s Metamorphoses) (ebook
week 5 overview due readings assignments
tuesday 23 Reading and Reading in the Brain (Chpts. 5-
february Cognition 8)
*Jill Walker, “Distributed
Narrative” (ebook reader)
thursday ARGs and
*Jeffrey Kim, et al,
25 Transmedia
“Storytelling in New Media:
february Storytelling
The Case of Alternate Reality
Games” (ebook reader)
week 6 overview due readings assignments
ARGs and
tuesday 2
Transmedia Paper #1 Personal Effects
ARGs and
thursday 4
Transmedia Personal Effects
week 7 overview due readings assignments
ARGs and
tuesday 9
Transmedia Personal Effects
*Bamber Gascoigne, selection
from How to Identify Prints
The Illustrated
thursday (Blackboard)
Book: Prints and
11 march *William Blake Archive
*Joseph Viscomi, “William
Blake’s Illuminated Printing”
week 8 ovcrview due readings assignments
tuesday 16 no class: spring
march break!
thursday no class: spring
18 march break!
week 9 overview due readings assignments
*Megan Benton, “The Book as
Art” (CHB), pp. 493-507
*Johanna Drucker, Artists’
tuesday 23 Selected Blog
Artists’ Books Books Online (in class)
march Entries (due: 1
*Recommended: Johanna
Drucker, “The Artist’s Book as
Idea and Form”
thursday Altered Books Ronald Johnson, Radi Os
25 march
week 10 overview due readings assignments
tuesday 30 The Book B. S. Johnson, The
march Unbound Unfortunates
Final research
thursday 1 The Book B. S. Johnson, The projects: due
Blog Entries
april Unbound Unfortunates Tuesday, 11
week 11 overview due readings assignments
*Aya Karpinska's Shadows
Never Sleep (in class; available
“Digital” for free from the Apple App
Reading: store)
tuesday 6 Pointing, *Anne Mangen, “Hypertext
april Choreographed, Fiction Reading: Haptics and
and Interactive Immersion (Blackboard)
Hands *William Sherman, “Toward A
History of the Manicule”
(ebook device)
*Ivan Illich, Selection from In
the Vineyard of the Text
*“Some Non-Textual Uses of
Books” (CHB), pp. 480-492
thursday 8 Metaphors of the
*Browse the International
april Book
Edible Books Festival website
*Publishing and Printing Food
*Recommended: Anne
Fadiman, “The Literary
Glutton” (ebook device)
week 12 overview due readings assignments
*Thomas Harrison’s Ark of
Studies (Blackboard),
Ramelli’s Book Wheel,
*Reading and
Thomas Jefferson’s Revolving
Writing Machines
tuesday 13 Bookstand and Polygraph,
april Google’s Book Scanners
*Paolo and Francesca (ebook
of Reading
*Reproductions from The Look
of Reading (in class)
*Selections from Pierre
Bayard, How to Talk about
Books You Haven’t Read
(ebook device)
thursday Not Reading and *Selection from Franco
15 april Distant Reading Moretti, Graphs, Maps, and
Trees (Blackboard)
*Recommended: NEA Report
on Reading at Risk (ebook
week 13 overview due readings assignments
*Xu Bing, Book from the Sky
The Limits of
(in class)
Reading: Illegible
*Robert Wasler’s Microscopic
tuesday 20 Text (in class)
Microscopic Text,
april *Nano-Bible
and Auto-
*Miniature Books (in class)
*The Agrippa Files (William
On-Site Visit to
thursday Collections or
22 april Book
week 14 overview due Readings assignments
*“The British Book Market,
1600-1800” (CHB), pp. 232-
tuesday 27 Models; the
april Circuit of the
*Case Study: Cory Doctorow,
With a Little Help
Publication *Distributed Proofreading In-Class Lab
thursday Models; the *“reCAPTCHA: Human-Based Exercise:
29 april Circuit of the Character Recognition” Distributed
Book (Blackboard) Proofreading
week 15 overview due assignments
tuesday 4 *Publication *Case Study: Emoji Dick
may Models (translation of Melville’s Moby
Continued Dick into Japanese Emoji
*Japanese Cell icons)
Phone Novels *“The Revolution Will Be
Crowdsourced (and Cute)”
*“Call Me Ishmael. The End”
*Mika, Sky of Love (Japanese
cell phone novel)
The Future of the
thursday 6
Authoring, TBA
Reality, Ebooks,
Mobile Readers)
week 16 overview due Readings assignments
The Future of the
tuesday 11 (Place-Based Final
may Authoring, Projects
Reality, Ebooks)