ENGL / WRIT 2223: History of Writing, Reading, and the Book


Fall term 2018

Monday & Wednesday 1:30 – 2:45

Course at a glance….

Book history is an interdisciplinary field, and in this course our topics will range from literary and rhetorical analysis to historical research to cultural debates. We will study the book as a material object and the development of manuscript and print culture from antiquity to the contemporary era, setting Western developments in a global context. We will examine intersections of oral and written literacies, the development of writing systems, and concepts of reading and authorship. Course readings will alternate between non-fiction (in theoretical, technical, and historical texts) and fiction (such as Geraldine Brooks’ novel People of the Book). Students will have opportunities for basic practice in writing scripts, editing medieval manuscripts, and using a printing press. Guest speakers may include librarians, publishers, storytellers, and book artists, who will enrich our opportunities to examine books in the Mount’s special collections in the MacDonald Collection, the Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection, and the Canadian Children’s Book Collection. Topics may be as varied as the cultural importance of religious books, the development of a children’s publishing industry, censorship, women as scribes, patrons, and printers, Indigenous oral traditions, typography, and contemporary blogging. The course will offer multiple options for creative projects.

ENGL WRIT 2223 students working in the MacDonald Room

Students doing research in the MacDonald Collection


This course may count as an ENGL half-unit credit or a WRIT half-unit credit. It may also count as a 0.5 elective in the Cultural Studies program.

Image above: Librarian Emeritus Peter Glenister displaying books from the MacDonald Collection

What’s the course like?

Read one student’s perspective on some of the research done by students in this course  in the Mount Saint Vincent Library’s special collection:  “Studying Hidden Treasures in the MacDonald Collection.”

Image above: Nicole Leggat and Corrine MacLean doing research in the MacDonald Collection