Wednesday, March 26, 2014

London, Anyone?: London Rare Books School 2014: Seminar in Rare Children's Books

When: June 23rd-27th
Where: University of London
Qualifications: Priority seems to go to post-grads, but anyone can apply
Cost: £600

Children's Books, 1470-1980

Course tutor: Jill Shefrin

This course is designed to provide a holistic introduction to the study of early and modern children’s books, examining the book as physical object—both bibliographically and materially—as well as concepts of rarity and collectability, together with the history and practice of children’s book collecting, bookselling and scholarship. Case studies will focus on different historical contexts, printing technologies, book design and cross-cultural influences over 500 years.

Many children’s books are, by nature of their principal readers, scarce: children are hard on their books. Books from earlier periods, books produced for a cheap popular market and, in the twentieth century, books published under wartime conditions may be especially rare. Additionally, until the twentieth century, copyright deposit libraries did not particularly value the acquisition of books published for children.

The critical, historical and bibliographic literature on children’s books is complicated by having been written for varied audiences. Children’s books have traditionally been of interest to children’s librarians and primary schoolteachers on the one hand, and, on the other, to antiquarian collectors, booksellers and librarians of special collections primarily concerned with bibliography and in the history of publishing and illustration. In recent years, bibliographical, critical and historical research have all exploded, supported in part by academic interest in the history of the book and the study of children’s literature. Academics in a range of disciplines—particularly English literature—have entered the field. But collectors and scholars have been studying the history of children’s books since the nineteenth century.

Students will have the opportunity to see and handle early material in some of London’s rare book collections and to understand how bibliography serves as a tool of description and communication between the worlds of collectors, booksellers, curators and scholars. They should acquire a sufficient sense of the current state of bibliographical and historical research in the field to enable them to pursue their own professional or personal interests.

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