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

Fall term 2021 Online Learning course

Online session: Wednesday 6:00 – 7:15 p.m.

Course at a glance….

Book history is an interdisciplinary field that opens up many avenues of study. In this course our topics will range from literary and rhetorical analysis to historical and cultural research. We will study the book as a material object, from scroll to codex to digital text, as we review the development of various writing systems in manuscript and print culture from antiquity to the contemporary era, setting Western developments in a global context. We will discuss the social, political, and economic factors at play in constituting readers, authors, patrons, scribes, libraries, and publishers in different eras, including contemporary developments in digital writing and publishing. We’ll examine the book’s relation to power in discussions of censorship, sacred texts, and the revolutionary power of books. We’ll consider the nature of oral traditions and their interaction with written literacies. Course readings will alternate between non-fiction (in theoretical and historical articles) and fiction (People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, short stories by Thomas King, and Fangirl, a young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell). The course will offer options for creative projects and exercises.

This course schedules discussion forum posts, a Collaborate session, and individual written responses as a regular part of the coursework each week on Moodle.

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